Some Scored, Some Punted, Some Threw Bombs

Super Bowl Ad Reviews

A special look at the Super Bowl, the biggest advertising and marketing event of the year Some Scored, Some Punted, Some Threw Bombs

The Times asked three advertising creatives to critique commercials shown during Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast–the biggest marketing event of the year. Here are their scorecards. Dick Sittig is president of Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co. in Santa Monica, the agency that creates ads for Jack in the Box restaurants.

* Pizza Hut: Three spots starring Spike Lee, Fran Drescher and Donald Trump introduce New York-style pizza. Not only are these spots funny and beautifully produced, they wisely take advantage of what only a Super Bowl telecast can do–make 200 million customers instantly aware of your product.

* Anheuser-Busch: (Budweiser) Frogs and Lizards. The fact that the frog says, “Is this any way to sell beer?” makes me think the agency and the client understand they’re now selling the advertising instead of beer.

* Anheuser-Busch: (Budweiser) Lobster. My favorite spot this year. You don’t often get to see a lobster and a chef in a knife fight. And unlike the frogs and lizards, it elevates Bud by portraying the beer as special and valuable.

* MasterCard: Cartoon characters. Huh?

* Selsun Power: The folks at Selsun must have gotten great seats at the game. There is no other way to justify spending $1.6 million on this fantasy of dandruff and bullfights.

* Victoria’s Secret: Beautiful women in lingerie strutting their stuff for drunk guys watching football. That’ll work.

* Frito-Lay: I like the Cracker Jack spot a lot. They only tried to make one point, that Cracker Jack is available in a big bag, and they made the point memorably. Very funny and well done.

* Siebel Systems(): Blah, blah, blah sales professionals, blah, blah, blah commitment, blah, blah, blah superior, blah, blah, blah empower, blah, blah, blah. At the very least, the agency should have told their client the music they used, James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” is best known as the theme for a laxative.

* Anheuser-Busch: (Budweiser) Dalmations. Even though you can see the punch line coming a mile away, it’s still really funny. But what makes this spot good advertising and not just good entertainment is that it also elevates the Bud brand. As an added benefit, I bet this spot is a huge hit with Bud employees and distributors.

* I want to like this spot. The contrast between the kids and their world-weary monologues is engaging. But isn’t exactly a household word, and this spot spends too much time entertaining me at the expense of informing me.

* Frito-Lay: (Doritos) A hot chick sets off the fire sprinklers on a bunch of guys. I’m sure this spot tested well–it’s got a sexy woman parading in front of the target audience while illustrating a single product attribute. And yet, like a Hollywood action flick, the formulaic parts don’t add up to a satisfying whole.

* General Motors: (Cadillac) Being from the Midwest myself, I understand how the guys in Detroit might think “Bad to the Bone” is one bad-ass anthem() that’s gonna give stodgy, old Cadillac a cool, new image. But all it does is reinforce my feeling that Cadillac is 15 years behind the times and still searching for what their brand stands for. This spot is tied with the Catera Duck for brand self-destruction.

* First Union: What a beautiful, incredibly produced commercial. I have no idea what First Union is.

* Land Rover: A neighborhood kid walks up to a new Discovery and asks the mom behind the wheel if her kid can come out and play. It takes forever for the mom to look for the kid inside this big Discovery. Simple, funny. They only tried to make one point and they succeeded. It really stood out from the big-production ads.

* Just for Feet(): A barefoot Kenyan long-distance runner is captured and “shoed” by some safari types. The Kenyan is not happy. Note to client: Did you really mean to demonstrate to the whole country that the best runners in the world don’t want or need your product?

* NFL: NFL players go out of their way to personally thank their fans. This ad will not win awards but tactically, it’s brilliant. The NFL’s message: “We’re not the NBA.”