Freelance Copywriter Reviews the 2007 Super Bowl XLI TV Commercials

Five Star players and a Couple of Goats.

Like last year, the winner of this year’s Ad Super Bowl had to be Anheuser-Busch with five great spots and a few that were merely very good. A line from the “Classroom” spot gets our vote for Most likely to make it into popular vernacular: “Gimme a Bud Light, Feller.” This one was multicultural without being politically incorrect. Just fun. How many product mentions do they get into this spot? Nearly a dozen — and without being offensive. Brilliant.

 Another example of a star player was Bud Light’s “Axe” spot. This one was solidly in the vein of “True” comedy from start to finish. “I’m sure there’s a reason for it” is a savvy way of saying guys dismiss anything for a Bud Light. The spot gets even better when the guy actually stops and asks the hitchhiker about the axe. Of course, it’s a bottle opener. Great spot.

With the stray dog ad, Budweiser proves once again how well they can do regal noble and sweet just as well as comedy. A cute homeless pooch (having a very bad day) sees a wagon in a parade and the Dalmatian on board. He gets splashed with mud — instant spots — and gets to join the Bud parade with a cute wink to the other dog. This is a great example of how to do sweet right (are you listening, GM robot?).

The set-up for Bud Light’s “Rock Paper Scissors” really pays off well with the unexpected: one guy throws a rock. Of course, according to the rules, the guy who threw paper should have won. The low five at end is a nice touch, but wait: didn’t Sierra Mist do this exact concept in 2005? Even so, this one’s a winner.

E-trade had several good spots but the standout was “What you can do with one finger.” This one had the perfect VO, great editing, direction and camera angles PLUS it used fun choices as examples before the punch line. Even when it comes to telling your expensive broker where to go, all it takes is one finger. Entertaining, persuasive, and a good use of humor.

CareerBuilder: Work is a Jungle is a good visual metaphor, but the spots were a little uneven. In the best one, an arrow pierces a coffee cup and an office worker yells, “RUN! They’re looking for volunteers for a training seminar!” In another, office workers are fighting for a promotion. The tagline “A better job awaits” is compelling, and this campaign is close. It’s nice to see Career Builder trying to mature, but we’ll miss the monkeys and jackasses.

What’s the big controversy over Nationwide and K-Fed? It’s very funny and a great follow up to last year’s Fabio spot. Things CAN change overnight and Federline being self-deprecating enough to appear in this spot makes him infinitely more likeable.

“Karate Class” was the best of the Sierra Mist ads. Despite not feeling like their usual loose improv, the “beard combover” spot started well, but went a little too far with the cutoffs, making us question their decision on the ending. The Sierra Mist campaign based around the improvisational comedy troupe called the “Mist Takes” started in 2005 and is still wearing well. Cheers.

There was a lot of attention on Doritos “Create your own ads” contest this year. One (“Cheesy”) uses a cool freeze frame art/animation technique and is fun until the woman ends up on her hands and knees. Instead, the “Checkout Girl” spot (Giddy up!) was a great way to showcase all the flavors and even slides in comments on each. It’s nice that they didn’t use a skinny model as the checkout girl. This is a very original and professional looking spot and gets better and better until the crammed-in “obligatory crunch bite.”

The Emerald Nuts spot is also a lot of fun and has a great premise: During the afternoon slumps, they say Robert Goulet comes in and “Messes with your stuff.” Goulet seems to relish his role as office prankster and the last shot of him on the ceiling is hilarious.

Bottom Feeders: the Top Five Losers

King Pharmaceuticals “Gotta have heart” was heartless! Awful. I was hoping the black limo would be the product to the rescue, but no, more horrible abuse and the poor heart guy is thrown into a wall and lies in rubble as the tagline comes up. Hardly inspires confidence in product or hope it will come to your aid.

In the Mars Snickers spot, we were told we could vote on multiple endings at The one that wins after the exclamation “Quick do something manly” (ripping out chest hair) wasn’t very good but slightly better than the other endings offered online (drinking motor oil, a third mechanic asking to join the Love Boat and a smack with a wrench in the gut). There was only one product shot (incorporated early) and men kissing is not going to inspire a lot of guys to buy Snickers — especially with the product shot looking like a turd and the tagline of “Most Satisfying.”

Coke had a few good spots (the take-off on Grand Theft Auto was one and Black History month tribute another), but the animated marathon about what happens before the bottle drops in a vending machine was wildly over-produced. It seemed to be trying for enchanting, but just came off as creepy.

In GM’s Robot spot, a yellow robot is sad and moping after being fired and for a moment we’re thinking, “Okay, so GM is hiring people again instead of using robots to make cars!” But then we see the robot is just having a bad dream, followed by the line, “With a warranty like this, everyone is worried.” Everyone? This just reminds us that robots put people out of jobs. Now they’re trying to make them cute and make us feel sorry for them? Not a smart approach.

Chevy tried too hard to appeal to every possible target audience. The spot featuring various people singing to their cars was entirely transparent. The hip doesn’t hop and the country sounds like pop.

All in all, not an outstanding year for Super Bowl ads, but it’s great to see ad contests anyone can enter — and even better seeing the results. “Checkout Girl” was as good (if not better) than any Doritos ad I’ve ever seen — as was the NFL spot of dejected fans saying goodbye to the season. In all this push to recruit “home-made” ads, it’s apparent that there was plenty of creative talent on the sidelines this year.