SBD/February 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

A-B Again Tops USA Today Super Bowl Ad Poll; RadioShack Hits While Butterfinger Misses

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Budweiser's "Puppy Love" commercial has "pranced off with the best-of-breed ribbon for Super Bowl commercials," marking the second consecutive year Anheuser-Busch has won USA Today's "consumer-judged Ad Meter," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. It marks the "12th time in the past 14 years" Budweiser earned the distinction. The brand's winning ad last night featured "a spunky puppy who is adopted but keeps coming back home to the Clydesdale horse it loves." The Ad Meter used responses from an online audience of 6,272 preregistered panelists. Another A-B spot "finished third, this one about a town's real welcome-home parade for a soldier returning from Afghanistan." A-B in recent years has "discovered that effective Super Bowl ads sometimes can be less about creating belly laughs and more about plucking heartstrings." Both "Puppy Love" and last year's winning Budweiser ads "have no dialogue, only soulful music." A Doritos commercial, which "was one of two winners of its annual consumer-generated Super Bowl ad competition," finished second. In the ad, "a kid dressed as a cowboy rides his big dog and lassos a bag of Doritos out of his brother's hands." A second Doritos spot, which finished fourth, showed "a foolish guy trade his Doritos for a ride in a 'time machine.'" Meanwhile, Super Bowl XLVIII "may have marked a serious turning point for those Super Bowl advertisers." Horovitz: "Out: ads created just for cheap laughs or lookie-loos. In: ads with fewer words, do-good messages and cinematic credibility" (USA TODAY, 2/3).

MOST POPULAR SUPER BOWL SPOTS (USA TODAY AD METER)
BRAND DESCRIPTION
LENGTH
SCORE
Budweiser Clydesdale, puppy want to stay together
:60
8.29
Doritos Kid rides dog, lassos Doritos
:30
7.58
Budweiser Welcome home parade for soldier
:60
7.21
Doritos Time travel booth
:30
7.13
RadioShack 80s icons clear out old Radio Shack
:30
7.00

LEAST POPULAR SUPER BOWL SPOTS (USA TODAY AD METER)
BRAND DESCRIPTION
LENGTH
SCORE
DreamWorks (Disney) "Need for Speed" trailer
:30
4.34
GoDaddy Danica Patrick as body builder
:30
4.04
Sprint Family plan
:30
3.96
Subway New sandwich with Fritos
:30
3.91
Bud Light New aluminum bottle
:30
3.89
   
LOVE SHACK, BABY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Suzanne Vranica notes a team of '80s-era entertainment personalities helped make RadioShack "one of the big winners in the Super Bowl advertising contest," along with Chrysler and Anheuser-Busch. RadioShack's spot featured actors John Ratzenberger and Erik Estrada reprising their respective iconic TV roles, Cliff Clavin from "Cheers" and Ponch from "CHiPs," as well as Gold Medal-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton and wrestler Hulk Hogan. NJOY Global Head of Brand Dean Crutchfield said of the spot, "It's great to see a brand make fun of itself" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/3). AD AGE's Ken Wheaton wrote, "In an attempt to update its stores and its image, RadioShack does something few brands have the backbone to do: it acknowledges reality." After the characters "ransack the place, we're treated to the updated look of Radio Shack" (ADAGE.com, 2/2). EW.com's Annie Barrett ranked RadioShack's spot among the best and wrote, "What the future of a store with 'Radio' in its name looks like is anyone’s guess, but the spot gets major funny points for its self-awareness" (EW.com, 2/2). USA Today's Laura Petrecca said RadioShack's ad was "great," as it "spoofs itself and its outdated image." NBC's Savannah Guthrie added, "It goes to the message that it's trying get across. Sometimes I see these Super Bowl commercials and I think, 'Oh, it's cute but what are they advertising?'" Association of Independent Commercial Producers President & CEO Matt Miller: "This was clean, smart, got the message across and did it with fun" ("Today," NBC, 2/3). The AP's Candice Choi writes, "At least Radio Shack understands its problem -- and can laugh about it" (AP, 2/3).

YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL: In Dallas, Chase Wade ranked Coca-Cola's spot, titled "It's Beautiful," among the best and wrote, "America is a melting pot and no one knows it better than Coca-Cola." Instead of the brand's usual animated polar bears, the beverage giant "produced a touching take of America the Beautiful sung in languages from around the world" (DALLASNEWS.com, 2/2). In New Jersey, Virginia Rohan notes the Coca-Cola spot featured "expansive scenes from the West and Southwest, interspersed with everyday American neighborhoods and cityscapes." The "well-done spot immediately signaled that this is not your grandparents’ America and sparked divisive commentary on social media." She ranked the ad among those that "really stood out" along with Budweiser's "Puppy Love" (Bergen RECORD, 2/3). However, USA TODAY's Jolie Lee notes the Coca-Cola spot has "sparked both outrage and kudos on Twitter and Facebook." The inclusion of "different languages sparked comments on Coca-Cola's Facebook page calling the ad a disgrace and unpatriotic" (USATODAY.com, 2/3).

GIVING IT A HUMAN FEEL: In California, Chuck Barney writes Microsoft's debut Super Bowl ad was the "most moving" spot of the night. The brand "commendably devoted time to inspiring heroes," including former NFLer Steve Gleason, who "now has ALS and uses a Surface Pro tablet to speak." Barney: "Bravo" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 2/3). In New Orleans, Dave Walker notes Microsoft's spot features a "technology-empowers-us-all message, narrated -- using his eyes" -- by Gleason. Walker: "Just awesome" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/3)

MORE HITS: EW.com's Barrett noted Cheerios' ad, titled "Gracie," shows a girl who "bargains her way into a pet puppy as her parents use Cheerios to illustrate that a new baby brother’s on the way." The spot was "simple and not too sweet, just like the cereal" (EW.com, 2/2). The MORNING NEWS' Wade ranked Cheerios' ad among the top spots and wrote, "Sometimes, simplicity works the best and there’s nothing more simple than Cheerios for breakfast" (DALLASNEWS.com, 2/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Vranica writes Chrysler's two-minute commercial starring Bob Dylan was a winner. She also ranks A-B among the winners and writes Budweiser "gave viewers a one-two punch, with one ad showing a puppy bonding with the Clydesdale horses" and another spot "involving a small town welcoming home a soldier" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/3). AD AGE's Wheaton gave T-Mobile's pair of spots featuring Tim Tebow a rating of four stars because they "are on message for the product and for Tebow, who gamely makes light of his own situation as he enjoys life sans contracts." The joke "might fly over the heads of non-football fans." Wheaton: "But you know what? We deserve some jokes just for us" (ADAGE.com, 2/2).

DON'T LAY A FINGER: In Colorado Springs, Tracy Mobley-Martinez places Butterfinger’s “Couples Therapy” spot among those that "didn't work." In the spot, Mr. Peanut Butter and Mrs. Chocolate "walk into a therapist office: He likes things as they are, while his partner is looking for a little something different." A "satin jacketed Mr. Butterfingers … er, enters the picture. Seriously strange and definitely not funny." Meanwhile, Mobley-Martinez writes of Stephen Colbert’s Wonderful Pistachios ad, "Oh, Stephen. How far the mighty have fallen" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 2/3). In DC, Maura Judkis wrote of Butterfinger's ad, "Yep, it’s a candy bar menage a trois. Edgy! Perhaps a bit too edgy for some viewers" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/2).

MORE MISSES: In Orlando, Hal Boedeker wrote several spots “didn’t work.” Bud Light “tried too hard with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle and a llama.” Also, an M&M “being taken hostage and stuffed in a car trunk was not amusing.” Boedeker: “I’m no fan of commercials in which food talks.” Meanwhile, Colbert “popped his head open for Wonderful Pistachios,” which was “weird” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 2/2). The TIMES-PICAYUNE's Walker wrote M&M’s "Hostage" spot "didn’t work." Walker: "A little spy movie, kinda, with a bad guy talking in Russian, I guess.” He added of Axe’s spot, "Sure, ‘Make love, not war’ is a nice sentiment. But a lot of global evildoers probably smell great, too" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/3). In Cincinnati, John Kiesewetter wrote, "Didn’t like the payoff to the Bud Light ‘didn’t know he was in a commercial’ spot. A waste of money? Wasssuuuppp with that?" (CINCINNATI.com, 2/2). VARIETY's Brian Lowry wrote while Bud Light deserves kudos for the “idea of doing a serialized spot -- with Don Cheadle and Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less,” the “payoff to this reality-TV spoof felt like a missed opportunity” (VARIETY.com, 2/2).

AUTO ADS A MIXED BAG: The GAZETTE's Mobley-Martinez ranks Volkswagen's "100,000 miles" among the ads that worked and writes the premise "could have been cloying." A VW engineer's "wings goose a woman in the elevator," and "in the funniest moment, the size of the wings directly relate to one’s ... er, manliness." The spot was "possibly not as on-the-money as last year’s memorable 'The Force,' but still, quite charming." Mobley-Martinez also ranked Chevy Silverado's "Romance" and Jaguar's "Rendezvous" among the spots that worked (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 2/3). In Detroit, Brent Snavely writes Maserati's spot positioned it "as a small brand that is now ready to slay the giants of the luxury automotive industry." The ad was "a bold statement" for parents Fiat and Chrysler that "reflects the company’s plan to dramatically boost sales of the Italian luxury brand." Univ. of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Michael Bernacchi: "Maserati was a surprise and they did reasonably well with it" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/3). But EW.com’s Barrett wrote of Chevy’s "Romance" ad, "Here’s a rancher taking his bull to get laid, basically." Meanwhile, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" fans may have gotten "really psyched for an apparent sequel to the film before realizing they’d just watched a 90-second ad" for Maserati (EW.com, 2/2). The MORNING NEWS' Wade wrote Chrysler’s spot with Dylan was "the worst." Wade: "An abysmal tagline sunk Chrysler’s near-cinematic effort to highlight American-made cars and even a Bob Dylan cameo couldn’t save it" (DALLASNEWS.com, 2/2).

BUMMED ABOUT THE BLOWOUT: BrandAds co-Founder Ryan Pamplin said the lopsided 43-8 score of last night's game is an "unfortunate circumstance" for advertisers. Pamplin: "It's always a gamble. You never know what you're going to get, and this was kind of a blowout. I suspect that the advertisers towards the third and fourth quarters really didn't get their money's worth this year" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 2/3). CNBC's Brian Sullivan said the score was "bad news" for Fox and asked, "Are there make-goods for Fox?" Sullivan: "I turned the channel in the fourth quarter. You wonder what guarantees were built-in for advertisers and if I'm somebody who was late in the game, paid a lot of money for fourth quarter, you dropped off" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/3).
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