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Volume 27 No. 32
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Who Were The Ad Winners And Losers From Last Night's Game?

The NFL "took back some yardage from Madison Avenue" last night, as Super Bowl ads in ABC's broadcast "generally were not lavish and most didn't look outrageously costly," according to Tom Shales (WASHINGTON POST, 1/27). REUTERS' Adam Pasick writes that the ads "prompted their share of chuckles but failed to summon the fireworks of years past, ... as most marketers played it safe." Also, "low-brow, slap-stick comedy carried much of the night." N.Y.-based DiMassimo Brand Advertising exec Mark DiMassimo: "I'd say it was a major disappointment, and we really needed the fun." Several ads, including Gatorade's "39 vs. 23" spot, have been running prior to the Super Bowl, and DiMassimo said, "It was weird to see so many old ads. I sensed much smaller production budgets, and we just didn't have the high flying enthusiasm of some past years" (REUTERS, 1/27). AD AGE's Bob Garfield writes that "in terms of actual advertising quality, it was ... a really, really good show." But it "wasn't a tour de force, exactly. Glaringly in short supply was the visual storytelling the event best serves" (ADAGE.com, 1/27). Garfield appeared on "GMA" to discuss this year's Super Bowl commercials. He called this year's ads "very good, not only as entertainment, but also as advertising" ("GMA," ABC, 1/27). In AZ, Bill Goodykoontz: "For the third consecutive year, the commercials ... were a disappointment" (AZ REPUBLIC, 1/27). In S.F., Tim Goodman writes under the header, "TV ads were anything but super; There were a few standouts, but mostly the commercials were abysmal." Goodman: "Has there been a worse year for Super Bowl ads?" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/27). In Tampa, Walt Belcher writes, "Not only was there no standout. ... It was hard to make a top 10 list" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/27). In Dallas, Tom Maurstad writes "the losers outnumbered the winners" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/27). Charlotte-based ad agency Collins Haynes & Lully exec Nancy Haynes said of the ads, "About 80[%] of them are just alike — they set up a cute vignette and in the last two seconds they tell you the product. They barely get the sponsor in the last two seconds. That might have worked in the '70s and '80s but the way people multitask now, it doesn't work any more" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/27).

SURVEY SAYS? USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz writes that for the fifth straight year, A-B had the No. 1 ad in USA Today's Ad Meter real-time consumer ranking of Super Bowl spots, as Budweiser's "Clydesdale Replay" took top honors. A-B placed four of the top five ads, and six of the top ten. The second-most favored ad was Bud Light's "Dreadlock Dog." The No. 3 spot was Sierra Mist's "Monkey Catapult." Horovitz: "Several themes repeated throughout the Super Bowl's commercial breaks. There was violence aplenty. There were several tacky sexual stereotypes. There was a seemingly deep-seated attempt by advertisers to appeal to the hearts — and wallets — of aging baby boomers. There was an unusually divergent mixture of minorities in the ads. There was sight gag after sight gag." While two of PepsiCo's ads placed in the top ten, the company "seems to have lost its formula for winning Ad Meter. ... It was another somewhat disappointing showing [for PepsiCo]." Michael Jordan "fell flat in ads for Hanes and Gatorade, neither of which even cracked the top 20" (USA TODAY, 1/27). Reebok's "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" ad placed sixth on the USA Today Ad Meter. The five least popular spots were of Subway, Sony Pictures' "Bad Boys II," Walt Disney's "The Osbournes" DVD release, Yahoo's HotJobs and Gallery Furniture (USA TODAY, 1/27). According to a McKee Wallwork Henderson Advertising ADBOWL survey of 167,000 online and cell phone users, the most popular ad was a FedEx spoof of the movie "Castaway." The rest of the top five included "Clydesdale Replay," "Terry Tate," "Dreadlock Dog" and Mist's "Monkey Catapult" (MWHA). According to an informal DallasNews.com survey, A-B ads "were a big hit" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/27). In Cincinnati, Amy Higgins notes that a panel of young consumers "assembled last night to watch and rate the commercials as they aired — and they were less than impressed" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/27).

WINNERS: In DC, Shales writes that the Pepsi Twist spot featuring Ozzy Osbourne was "among the guaranteed crowd-pleasers," as was the H&R Block spot starring Willie Nelson. Reebok's "Terry Tate" is a "promising if ultra-violent" character (WASHINGTON POST, 1/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Suzanne Vranica writes the "biggest winners" last night included the Osbourne spot, Bud Light's "Dreadlock Dog" and Reebok's "Terry Tate." The Trident gum spot was "the Cinderella story." FedEx's spoof of "Castaway" scored well on the Wall Street Journal's Online poll (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/27). DiMassimo Brand Advertising's DiMassimo said Bud Light's "Dreadlock Dog" spot was "the funniest spot, ... which was just a good visual gag. There was nothing Super Bowlish about it" (REUTERS, 1/27). AD AGE's Garfield gives four stars to Budweiser's "Clydesdale Replay" spot and Gatorade's "39 vs. 23" spot with Jordan (ADAGE.com, 1/27). In Boston, Monica Collins writes that the Bud Light spot featuring a man "in an upside-down clown suit" was the "boldest, bawdiest — and yes, the funniest." The Pepsi Twist Osbourne spot "memorably hilarious" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/27). In FL, Nancy McAlister lists her top five ads, with FedEx's "Castaway" spoof at the top, followed by Gatorade's "39 vs. 23," Sierra Mist's "Monkey Catapult," the Budweiser ad featuring a guy meeting his girlfriend's mother, and the H&R Block ad starring Willie Nelson (TIMES-UNION, 1/27). In L.A., Chris Dufresne gives a "thumbs up" to "Clydesdale Replay," FedEx' "Castaway" spoof, Cadillac's spot, Sierra Mist's "Monkey Catapult," the Diet Pepsi ad, and AT&T Wireless' "Antique Bandwagon" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27). CNNSI.com rated Pepsi Twist, FedEx, Visa (featuring Yao Ming and Yogi Berra) and Reebok spot among the best (CNNSI.com, 1/27). In Houston, David Barron writes that the Visa spot featuring Yao and Berra was "one of the more memorable ads" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/27). In Milwaukee, Tim Cuprisin writes that the best ads came from A-B, and "nothing in its series of commercials broke any ground, pushed any envelopes or invoked the kinds of cliches the measure the success of ads." But A-B's spots "were consistently effective in making viewers smile" (JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/27). In Newark, Steve Politi's winners include "Clydesdale Replay," H&R Block, Pepsi Twist, Visa's spot with Yao and FedEx (STAR-LEDGER, 1/27). The WASHINGTON TIMES calls FedEx' "Castaway" spoof "hilarious" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/27). K.C.-based ad agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink has awarded Dodge its LAMBardi Trophy for its "Beef Jerky" spot touting its Ram truck. The award honors the Super Bowl spot that does the best job standing apart from the rest of the ads (SHS).

LOSERS: In Boston, Wesley Morris writes A-B's 11 spots were "as flat and predictable as their beer." The telecast was also "loaded with dud movie trailers ... and dud T-shirt spots," including the Hanes ads with Jordan and Jackie Chan (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Vranica writes that "not all ads scored with viewers," including AT&T Wireless, Levi, Quizno's, and the Sierra Mist "Monkey Catapult" spot. In the AT&T spot, Gilligan saves his "Gilligan's Island" shipmates with his wireless phone, and NM-based Markowitz & Associates' Michael Markowitz said, "You are in real trouble when you spend $2.2[M] on 30 seconds of TV air time and you spend most of it running old TV footage — which has nothing to do with your brand." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/27). In FL, McAlister writes that the Dodge "Beef Jerky" spot was the "most tasteless commercial" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/27). In L.A., Dufresne gives a "thumbs down" to Levi, Pepsi Twist, A-B Bud Light's spot featuring a clown, and AT&T Wireless' Gilligan ad (L.A. TIMES, 1/27). AD AGE's Garfield gives no stars to Dodge's "Beef Jerky" spot, which he calls "disturbing, repulsive, unacceptable" (ADAGE.com, 1/27). In N.Y., David Hinckley writes that when Jordan "himself looks tired, in two separate ads, it's time to start looking for fresh blood." Also, when "the Quizno's ad looks like the Subway ads used to look, it's time to move on" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27). In Tampa, Belcher writes that the production of Reebok's "Terry Tate" spot "is weak." The Hanes' spot with Chan and Jordan and the Sierra Mist "Monkey Catapult" spot were "yawners" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/27). In Milwaukee, Cuprisin's losers include FedEx, Hanes and Subway (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/27). In St. Louis, Gail Pennington writes Visa "may have erred in assuming viewers could easily identify" Yao (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/27). In Dallas, Maurstad writes that Yahoo's HotJobs spot "proved that all singing and no razzle-dazzle make for a deadly-dull commercial" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/27). In Newark, Politi's losers include Hanes, Quizno's, Bud Light, AT&T Wireless, Levi, Monster, HotJobs, Cadillac and Subway (STAR-LEDGER, 1/27). The WASHINGTON TIMES writes Dodge's "Beef Jerky" spot "was nasty." Also, the Monster and Hanes ads "were boring" (WASH. TIMES, 1/27).

View the full length commercials that ranked well in USA Today's Ad Meter

And those that didn't fare as well:

NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE? The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority runs a full-page ad in USA Today in response to the NFL refusing to air its ad during last night's game. The ad copy: "They wouldn't even run a commercial for Las Vegas, so we guess an expansion team is out of the question." The ad also invites people to view the TV spot at www.vegasfreedom.com (USA TODAY, 1/27).