SBD/February 6, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Three Dog Night: Doritos, Volkswagen, Skechers Ads Top USA Today Panel

USA Today's annual Ad Meter is taking votes until 6:00pm ET tomorrow afternoon, but a panel of consumers that rated the ads that aired during NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLVI "gave a clear sign that dogs are still a Super Bowl advertiser's best friend,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. The panel's top pick was a Doritos spot "featuring a 120-pound Great Dane that casually buries the family cat, then bribes the owner to keep mum by supplying him with Doritos.” The runners-up “also featured canines, including a Volkswagen spot that had a pooch hitting the gym to be able to chase a VW Beetle into a 'Star Wars'-like adventure.” It was followed by “a Skechers spot with a sneaker-wearing, pudgy bulldog winning a race against greyhounds.” Horovitz notes one “serious ad garnered serious attention on the Super Bowl.” A “powerful, two-minute-long Chrysler spot featuring actor Clint Eastwood likened the halftime plans of the two Super Bowl teams to America working to get back on its feet.” The ad could “not be officially rated by the panel because it ran during halftime, not during the game.” In the early online Ad Meter voting “at the end of the game the Doritos dog was running No. 2, while another dog -- the Bud Light rescue dog Weego -- was in the lead.” Dogs had “four of the top five slots” (USA TODAY, 2/6).

ADVERTISER DESCRIPTION
SECS.
QTR
SCORE
TOP FIVE
Doritos Dog bribes cat owner
30
2
8.82
Volkswagen Dog gets fit, "Star Wars"
60
2
8.73
Skechers Dog in sneakers wins road race
30
2
8.57
Doritos Baby grabs Doritos
30
2
8.48
M&M/Mars Introduces Ms. Brown
30
1
8.47
BOTTOM FIVE
GE Appliance workers like their jobs
45
2
5.29
Bud Light Platinum New top-shelf beer at work
30
1
5.18
Cadillac ATS on "Green Hell" track
30
4
5.12
Century 21 Agents best Donald Trump, others
30
3
5.03
GE Turbine workers make energy
45
3
4.97

THE HITS: USA Today's Laura Petrecca noted "dogs ruled" this year. The Doritos ad that topped the USA Today panel “works because it’s fun." Petrecca: "You can break these things down and start to overanalyze, it’s cute" ("Today," NBC, 2/6). In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes a “toast is in order” for Anheuser-Busch InBev, as the “frat-boy humor with misogynistic overtones that has long sullied Super Bowl spots for Bud Light beer was refreshingly absent.” Two commercials for General Electric “did something rare for Super Bowl spots” as they “touched on a serious subject, industrial policy, by saluting the workers who make GE appliances and turbines in Kentucky and New York.” Almost any advertiser could have “enticed Matthew Broderick to re-enact his role as the hooky-playing fun-lover in ‘Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.’” But Honda’s spot for the CR-V compact crossover “made sense because the product’s current campaign encourages consumers to take time off from life’s duties” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/6). Business consulting firm Jim Stengel Company President & CEO Jim Stengel tweeted, "Love GE's strategy, the execution, well I expected something more remarkable" (TWITTER.com, 2/5).  In Chicago, Steve Johnson writes it is “easy to win affection for man's best friend,” but the spots featuring dogs made “doggedness work, and Bud Light even squeezed in an appeal for rescue dogs” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/6). Marketing and PR firm The Geek Factory Founder & CEO Peter Shankman tweeted, “Good job Budweiser for making a special mention of a rescue dog!" (TWITTER.com, 2/5). In Cincinnati, John Kiesewetter wrote the “red M&M steals the show stripping off its color at the party, a nude scene everyone will be talking about” today (CINCINNATI.com, 2/5). Accenture Global Digital Advertising Manager Andrea Donatucci tweeted, “Finally the 1st ad that made me laugh. Dancing M&M will get me everytime.”  Media Producer and Host of "What's Trending" Shira Lazar tweeted,“Loved the best buy commercial- although I thought it was just an iPhone commercial. Love real ppl- real stories!” (TWITTER.com, 2/5).

CAR & DRIVER: In Detroit, Mekeisha Madden Toby writes Chevy “deserves a gold star for its apocalyptic ad.” In the spot, a man and his dog “are shown in a truck as they're escaping the rubble and chaos left by an apparent attack.” When the man later joins his friends, “all who drive Chevy trucks, he asks about his missing friend” and they “break the bad news: The missing man was driving a Ford. Zing!” (DETROIT NEWS, 2/6). Entertainment Weekly Editor Jess Cagle said the Chevy ad was a “very well-done ad." Cagle: "I just thought a lot of information conveyed in a short amount of time very economically and the end of it was sort of funny. They took a dig at Ford. I love it when one brand takes a dig at another brand” ("GMA," ABC, 2/6). FOXSPORTS.com’ Brian Lowry writes Fiat was a good ad, as a man sees a “stunning Italian woman -- but she’s a car!” That is perhaps the “best illustration of the relationship between buying a car and testosterone I’ve seen in a while.” Honda’s “Ferris Bueller" ad actually plays “much better in the long version posted on the web than what it aired” but it still “was OK” (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/6). JWT New York Exec Creative Dir Matt MacDonald gave Kia four stars and said, “This was a sleeper hit, pun intended. It was a fresh take on a typical guy’s fantasy, done in a way that women appreciated as well” (N.Y. POST, 2/6). Exact Target VP/Marketing Jeff Rohrs wrote on his Twitter page, “Audi wins! Echo & the Bunnymen PLUS killing off Twilight-esque.” Red Bull Dir of Digital Media Kevin Doohan tweeted, "#solongvampires was pretty good. Love the song choice. Shows off gr8 feature with vampire deaths. Fantastic!” (TWITTER.com, 2/5).

THE MISSES: In N.Y., David Hinckley wrote the worst ads were Cars.com and Bud Light Platinum. There “might be a joke in a guy whose inner voice tells him to buy a car, but this ad never even got into the same zip code with it.” Meanwhile, as a product presentation to the A-B development department, the Bud Light Platinum ad “could have been a winner.” But as a TV ad, it had “a worse first quarter than the Patriots” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/6). On Long Island, Verne Gay writes the Cars.com ad was “easily the worst of the worst.” A guy’s head “sprouts out of back” and then the “head sings.” And the guy “talks about the signing head on his back. And … Oh, enough. Terrible” (NEWSDAY, 2/6). In California, John Maffei notes the “dumbest segment was for the Chevy Sonic.” In one, a band “was driving down a country road, bumping into stuff placed on a fence.” Maffei writes, “It was just dumb.” Then there was a segment “in which the car was doing flips and bungee jumps” (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/6).  FOXSPORTS.com's Lowry writes working Elton John “into a spot showcasing ‘The X Factor’ winner was lavish but empty, and Coke’s polar bears -- always beautiful to look at -- didn’t deliver much fizz this year.” Meanwhile, he wrote of Acura's spot, “Sorry, you’ll never convince me Jerry Seinfeld -- or Jay Leno, for that matter -- wants to drive an Acura” (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/6). Edelman Digital Exec VP David Armano tweeted, “Coke polar bears ad. Wanted to like it. Didn't really get it” (TWITTER.com, 2/5). 

CHECK THE WATER: In California, Chuck Barney writes, “We're still trying to figure out how watching a little boy peeing in a pool will compel us to buy software from TaxAct.com” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 2/6). In Miami, Glenn Garvin writes, “I am still trying to figure out what a young boy peeing in a swimming pool has to do with a Taxact.com’s income-tax software.” Other ads were “less opaque, particularly” H&M's ad featuring MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham “strutting and stretching in his tighty whiteys in a way that gave a whole new meaning to ‘bend it like Beckham’” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/6). In Tampa Bay, Eric Deggans writes too many ads during the game “were too hard to figure.” Why would TaxAct.com “try to sell software helping you prepare your tax returns with a commercial featuring a little boy who seems to relieve himself in the pool?” And why did Chevy “assume that watching people bungee jump and skydive with its new Sonic subcompact car would make me want to buy it?” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/6). Business and media author Steve Garfield wrote on his Twitter page, “I will never buy TaxACT. Disgusting”

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: The N.Y. TIMES' Elliott writes too many commercials "fell back on tactics that were too familiar from a plethora of Super Bowl spots: anthropomorphic animals, second-class celebrities, slapstick violence and riding the coattails of popular culture.” The “dearth of originality was underlined by multiple appearances of some famous faces,” including model Adriana Lima appearing in a spot for Kia and another for Teleflora, as well as Pro Football HOFer Deion Sanders appearing in both Bridgestone and Century 21 spots (N.Y. TIMES, 2/6). In DC, Hank Stuever writes the commercials “blazed no new creative territory and even verged on dud gags and filed-down ideas.” Go Daddy experienced an “impotence brought on by its own puerility, while the E-trade baby ran out of things to say.” A little boy “urinated in a swimming pool to get you interested in software to do your taxes.” A head popped out of a man’s shoulder “to get you to visit a car sales Web site” (WASHINGTON POST, 2/6). In S.F., Peter Hartlaub in a front-page piece notes it “seemed as if the advertisers were playing it safe.” There were “no horrible missteps like last year’s Groupon commercial, which seemed to make an insensitive joke at the expense of the people of Tibet.” Instead, several “major advertisers went with the old reliable: puppies, violence and half-naked women” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/6). In Boston, Raakhee Mirchandani writes it was “hard to be bowled over by last night’s pathetic display." What a "Super snooze.” Even Broderick “channeling Ferris Bueller for Honda and comedy heavy-hitters Jerry Seinfeld with the Soup Nazi and Jay Leno for Acura didn’t deliver any laughs” (BOSTON HERALD, 2/6).

WHAT THE ADS SAY ABOUT US: In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes the Super Bowl ads are “a barometer of our culture.” Zurawik: “What they said to me is that we have become a truly dumbed-down, crass, trashy and even cruel society -- and somehow proud of it.” But what was “really sad about most of the ads was how many featured stupid, gross or cruel behavior.” A dog “having killed a cat and trying to cover it up was supposed to be funny in a Doritos ad.” A little kid “urinating in a swimming pool and laughing when his sister jumps in was the punch line for an online tax service.” Zurawik: “The ad that best summarizes how debased our excessive commercialism has made us is the Go Daddy commercial that features two women using another woman's body as a billboard on which to write and draw the Go Daddy brand” (Baltimore SUN, 2/5). The AP’s Mae Anderson writes advertisers “showed a little skin in their Super Bowl.” The Go Daddy ad showed NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and trainer Jillian Michaels “body painting a nude woman,” while Beckham appears “in his undies" (AP, 2/6). UPS Dir of Sponsorships & Events J.W. Cannon tweeted, "Nothing says skank quite like GoDaddy. Why women would belittle themselves to be in those ads is beyond me” (TWITTER.com, 2/5).

TO PREVIEW OR NOT TO PREVIEW
: EW's Cagle said companies releasing their ads prior to the game “took away a little bit from the joy of being surprised by the ads during the Super Bowl.” But it was smart, because if “you release your ad a week or two before, you’re the only one releasing your Super Bowl ad that day and you get a lot of buzz, you get a lot of conversation” (“GMA,” ABC, 2/6). However, Tivo VP & GM Tara Maitra said Tivo viewers rated the Doritos highly and “ever since Doritos has been doing user-generated content they’ve had real success.” Maitra said the top three ads rated by Tivo “none of those commercials debuted online” prior to the game. Maitra added, “I wouldn’t say that having the previews online beforehand killed them because of course, you did see a bunch in the top 10. ... But if you want to be in the top spot I would save it for the gameday” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/6).
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