Skip to main content

Super Bowl Ads: Some Winners, Many Losers

Super Bowl ads get judged completely differently than ads that run the other 364 days of the year, but by any measurement this year’s batch as a collective was underwhelming.

The rest of the year, television ads have goals ranging from brand building to straight ROI. But on Super Bowl Sunday, the ads are for the most part just trying to one-up each other to get the most notoriety on the post-Super Bowl ad rankings, actual effectiveness (and taste) be damned.

But even from a cleverness standpoint, this year’s crop for me fell flat. Brands like Doritos and Pepsi Max tried desperately to go for the cheap laugh, and missed more often than they landed, even when aiming squarely below the belt.

There were some winners, such as multiple ads with Eminem and a Kim Kardashian ad for Sketchers that played perfectly to the NFL audience, while actually having a real brand message, um, behind it.

But perhaps the big winner was Fox, and not just because the game ended up going down to virtually the last play after it looked early on that it may have been a one-sided road to ratings ruin.

Actually, Fox’s promo department had a great night. The Terra Nova promo was fantastic, much like the clip the network showed journos at press tour last month.  Sitting next to me, the wife said, “That’s a TV show, not a movie? I’m in.”

An American Idol ad in the high-profile first spot at halftime worked, highlighting the new blood that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have brought to the 10-year-old show, while an X-Factor spot centered around – who else – Simon Cowell, also worked well.  And even a House spot that played off of the ageless Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad was fun, though I’m scared to think how few people may have known it was born from that classic spot.

Unfortunately, despite companies spending $3 million a pop just to buy the time, there was no Mean Joe Greene moment Sunday night, and unlike the Coke campaign, not a lot to smile about.