SBD/February 7, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Super Bowl Ads: Doritos, Bud Light Ads Featuring Dogs Tie Atop USA Today Ad Meter

Doritos and Bud Light "tied for the top Super Bowl commercial as selected by consumer panelists rating the ads as they aired in the game for USA TODAY's 23rd annual exclusive Ad Meter," marking the first time two ads tied for the top spot, according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Doritos "struck marketing gold" with its ad featuring "a guy who pays big-time for teasing a hungry pug dog with Doritos." The ad was consumer-generated as part of the "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, and marked the "second time in three years that consumers chose as best commercial an ad by a regular Joe." Meanwhile, Bud Light's ad, which aired late in the fourth quarter, featured a "dog sitter who gets the canines to cater his party." The ad marked a "return to glory" for A-B, which "won 10 consecutive Ad Meters" from '99-'08. The No. 3 ad was a "highly professional spot" for Volkswagen's Passat brand, and was "about a huggable kid in a Darth Vader costume who -- with an unknown assist from his dad -- thinks he has started the car with 'the Force.'" The No. 3 finish marked the "highest finish ever by a car ad in the Super Bowl, tying a Nissan ad" in '97. Horovitz notes many highly ranked ads shared a "common bond," as they had "been widely seen on Facebook and YouTube for days -- and even weeks -- before the game." Horovitz: "Such success throws a monkey wrench in a long-held and apparently faulty belief by Super Bowl advertisers that they need to keep their secret until game day" (USA TODAY, 2/7). The Doritos ad reportedly cost just $500 to make, but Deutsch Inc. Chair Donny Deutsch said of that claim, "And I got the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you also. That's just not fact. They can spin it all they want" ("Today," NBC, 2/7).

USA TODAY'S SUPER BOWL AD METER: TOP FIVE ADS
ADVERTISER
DESCRIPTION
LENGTH
QUARTER
SCORE
Bud Light
Dog sitter puts dogs to work
:30
4th
8.35
Doritos Dog's revenge for Doritos teasing
:30
1st
8.35
Volkswagen "Darth Vader" starts 2012 Passat
:30
2nd
7.95
Doritos House sitter brings back grandpa from ashes
:30
1st
7.68
Pepsi Max Love hurts with bad girlfriend
:30
1st
7.56
USA TODAY'S SUPER BOWL AD METER: BOTTOM FIVE ADS
ADVERTISER
DESCRIPTION
LENGTH
QUARTER
SCORE
Mini Cooper "Cram It In The Boot" game show
:30
3rd
5.3
Stella Artois Women in tears as Adrien Brody loves only Stella
:60
3rd
5.3
Go Daddy Danica Patrick, Jillian Michaels in the buff?
:30
4th
5.18
Hyundai Elantra shows compacts don't have to be boring or tiny
:30
3rd
4.49
Hyundai Elantra breaks "good enough" compact trance
:30
1st
4.2

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU: In Ft. Worth, Robert Philpot writes the Volkswagen Darth Vader ad "has so many good qualities." Philpot: "It's sweet, it's humorous, it tells a story that is easy to follow. It features an adult male who doesn't act like an idiot. And nobody gets hit in the crotch." (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7). In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes the ad was a "loving, spot-on tribute to 'Star Wars,' and its ardent fans" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7). In New Orleans, Dave Walker ranked the ad No. 1, and writes it was "adorable, and an understandable pre-kickoff favorite via countless Internet preview plays, albeit in longer form." Walker: "Nothing topped it" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/7). In L.A., Austin Knoblauch wrote the Volkswagen ad was the "best commercial of the Super Bowl." Knoblauch ranked Snickers' ad featuring Roseanne Barr and Richard Lewis No. 2, the "Doggy Doritos" ad No. 3, the E*Trade "baby commercials" No. 4 and Bridgestone's "Reply-all commercial" No. 5 (LATIMES.com, 2/6). In Dallas, Tom Maurstad awarded the Volkswagen ad his "best in show" designation, as it was a "sweet, smart spot without a trace of special effects or sexual innuendo." Maurstad writes in general there was "not much in the way of raunchy high jinks" this year (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/7). Former A-B Exec VP/Global Industry Development & CCO Bob Lachky writes there is "not much about the car's features but it keeps your attention until a great joke at the end. Good family appeal" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/7).

AD ROUNDUP: In S.F., Peter Hartlaub in a front-page piece writes there were a "few bright moments" among the ads. Bridgestone "had a series of clever, upbeat and mayhem-free advertisements, including a beaver that saves a careful driver from a collapsing bridge" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/7). In West Palm Beach, Leslie Gray Streeter wrote Volkswagen's spot is the "funniest ad to hit both the Xers and the kids watching the animated 'Star Wars' series." Meanwhile, Audi's ad featured rich people who "break out of the caviar/old money prison to a sure escape." One of the escapees "picks a Mercedes and gets caught, while the other takes the Audi and gets free." Streeter: "A long way to go to get there for that joke. But funny." Streeter also wrote Chrysler's ad featuring Eminem and the city of Detroit was "unexpectedly civic-minded and patriotic, even" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 2/6). In Milwaukee, Duane Dudek awarded a "touchdown" to the Chrysler ad, as it "romanticizes the working-class spirit of Detroit." Dudek also awarded a "field goals" to two Bud Light ads, including the one where "dogs not only play poker, they grill burgers and serve Bud." Bud Light's "first-quarter HGTV parody in which a kitchen redesign involves a bucket of beer was an early score." However, Dudek writes most of the ads were "forgettable." Snickers tried to "re-create a Betty White moment with Roseanne Barr, but fails." Meanwhile, he asks, "Did the Groupon ad, with Timothy Hutton, illuminate the dilemma of the Tibetan people or exploit it?" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/7).

FOX GETTING ITS OWN PROPS: In N.Y., David Hinckley writes the best ad was the Fox ad in which "House" star Hugh Laurie pulls off a "deliciously twisted parody of the famous Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad." Hinckley: "This one ends up with the kid crying. It's a keeper." The second best ad was the Audi "Escape to Luxury" ad. Hinckley: "A whole screwball prison escape drama in 60 seconds. 'Unleash the hounds,' barks the boss man, and elegant Afghans bound out. It ends with Kenny G. Who could have known?" Meanwhile, the worst ad was Doritos' "Finger-lickin' good" ad. Hinckley: "A guy licks the fingers of someone who has just finished a bag of Doritos, to get the cheese residue. Maybe the creepiest spot in Super Bowl history" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/7). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman writes Fox' promo department "had a great night," as the ad for "Terra Nova" was "fantastic." A halftime "American Idol" spot "worked, highlighting the new blood that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have brought to the 10-year-old show." The "House" ad also "was fun" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 2/7).

MISSING THE MARK: In DC, Hank Stuever writes the Super Bowl ads "mostly failed to score big." There were a "few highlights here and there, beginning and ending for most viewers with a satisfyingly cute Volkswagen ad." Chrysler's ad in which Eminem "drives meaningfully through the Motor City" was a "daring yet laughably pretentious ad about a Detroit rebirth." Stuever: "Tagline: 'Imported from Detroit.' It was a bold statement, delivered unconvincingly." Meanwhile, Go Daddy's "anticlimactic reveal" was that Joan Rivers "is their new hot celeb, superimposing Rivers's head atop a buxom new body." Stuever: "A nation goes ick in unison." Groupon also "hit a strangely tasteless note with two ads that start out seeming to be about one thing … and then shift into a just-joshin' punchline" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/7). The STAR-TELEGRAM's Philpot writes the ads "for the most part … didn't justify the reported $3 million that advertisers paid for 30 seconds of airtime." Philpot: "And that's not counting what they paid for over-produced ads that turned into muddles" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7). The S.F. CHRONICLE's Hartlaub rhetorically writes, "How bad were the ads?" The first two Pepsi Max spots "featured the same punch line at the end: someone getting hit in the face with a can." A Chevy ad poked fun "at elderly people in a retirement home," and Groupon "premiered an amazingly tone-deaf commercial about Tibet." Hartlaub: "You know it's a bad year when the perpetually misogynist GoDaddy.com ads don't even register an honorable mention on the worst-of list" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/7).

COMING ATTRACTIONS: In L.A., Steven Zeitchik noted while "a number of the best-received spots referenced well-known films," ads for upcoming movies "landed with more of a thud." Perhaps the "most well-received -- or at least the most intriguing -- came with 'Super 8,'" produced by Steven Spielberg. While some Twitter users said that the ad "reminded them a little too much of Spielberg's 'E.T.,' comments about the commercial were retweeted often and generously" (LATIMES.com, 2/6). DAILY VARIETY's Brian Lowry wrote Marvel and Paramount's spot for "Thor" gave a "good taste of what's going to be in the movie while making it appear both serious and fun." DreamWorks also "took exactly the right tack in its ad for the next 'Transformers' -- showcasing a big action sequence and not including any of the dialogue." However, "on the flip side, if you aren't a comic-book geek, it's probably difficult to draw much of a conclusion about 'Captain America: The First Avenger.'" Lowry noted three animated movies "duked it out in the second half." Paramount's "Rango" looked "quite funny and charming." But Lowry added of Fox' "Rio" and Disney's "Mars Needs Moms," "Not quite so much" (VARIETY.com, 2/6).

LACKLUSTER NIGHT OVERALL: Donny Deutsch said there was not “anything overwhelming” in this year's batch of Super Bowl ads. Deutsch: “I don’t think the world was set on fire when I look at the totality of it." USA Today’s Laura Petrecca said the Super Bowl was an "ad year with lots of talkers. Nothing really stands out, like the Snickers ad last year with Betty White, but lots of big celebrities, good music ... so people will be talking about the ads this year more so than last year” (“Today,” NBC, 2/7). CNBC's Carl Quintanilla said of the ads, "What struck me is that there wasn't one that seemed to be a cultural touchstone ... that we'll be talking about in 10 years" (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 2/7). Author Sally Hogshead said, "This year we saw the return to the simple, brilliant idea. The ads that won were not the ones with the flashy, over-the-top special effects and it wasn't even necessarily the ones with the glossy celebrities. This was about great ideas" (“The Early Show,” CBS, 2/7).

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