Louie bows out, FedEx scores in Super Bowl commercials



Free Press Staff Writer

Let’s get the local chauvinism out of the way. The Federal Express commercial about how the Red Wings’ third consecutive Stanley Cup (we hope!) was misrouted to Bolivia instead of Joe Louis Arena by a different overnight delivery firm – was probably the most anticipated spot of the Super Sunday advertising bacchanal.

That noted, let’s check with some experts-the Michigan State advertising and communications faculty who gathered at an East Lansing Super Bowl party that will probably show up as a “faculty meeting” on an expense form.

Robert Kolt, speaking for a cadre of partying Spartan savants, had the Wings commercial ranked No. 3 for creativity, productivity and strategy (as in, will it sell the product?). No. 1 was Budweiser’s renegade lobster. The crustacean, destined for the hot pot, holds a bottle of Bud hostage.

Said Kolt of the lobster bit: “It was likable, cute and geared toward a sale.”

No. 2 was a slick Oldsmobile ad updating the image of the stodgy GM line. And while nobody was saying what brand of beer was being quaffed at the party, almost all the Budweiser segments impressed the ad experts. Three of their top five picks were from Anheuser Busch. The Super Bowl marked the apparent retirement of the series of ads with Louie the Lizard. The wise-guy New York-accented Louie was fired, ostensibly as a result of poking fun at other, more solemn Bud advertising.

Kolt agreed with general ad industry sentiment that ending a campaign when it’s on top instead of flogging it to death makes sense.

As a group, ads for upcoming movies were runners-up to the beer ads in the frequency race. The ad for “Wild Wild West” starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline was perhaps the most intriguing. Even the Buffalo Bills made a Super Bowl reappearance, but only on an NFL ad thanking fans for their seasonal support.

Losers? Our MSU knowledgeables didn’t have much use for the Selsun Blue shampoo commercial- so forgettable that the experts couldn’t recall its plot line. Seibel Software and Blockbuster also earned Spartan boos.

Three thumbs-downers not on the MSU list:

Vince McMahon’s slithery World Wrestling Federation ad, attempting to be wry about the grappling game’s violence, sexual exploitation and endorsement of stereotypes.

A nondescript Volvo truck ad (Ford: These Swedes need help!) American Express ads featuring more of the offbeat same from the not-on-prime-time-anymore Jerry Seinfeld.

The MSU panel: Robert Kolt, Keith Adler, Janice Bukovac, Linda Cowles, Steve Edwards, Jim Gilmore, Hairong Li, Bonnie Reece, Bruce Vanden Bergh, Nora Rifon, Chuck Salmon, Eugenia Zerbinos, Chuck Atkin, Bill Donahue and Jim Spaniolo.