Super Bowl XLVI: The Good and the Ugly of Advertisements

I don't typically watch the Super Bowl. I'm not a big fan of football and crowded parties with people screaming at a TV are not my idea of a good time. However, the promise of good advertising won me over this year. I watched for the ads. I probably could have skipped the whole thing. Super Bowl DoritosThere were only three commercials I found myself drawn to. The first, and arguably the best, was a Doritos advertisement. A man is planting flowers in his backyard when he sees something he'll never forget: a large dog burying a cat's collar. Before the man can do anything, he's given an offer he can't refuse.

The result is a darkly humorous ad of misplaced expectations. You can watch the whole thing here.

Super Bowl SketchersThe second is a Sketchers ad. This, too, relies on the draw of an adorable dog to bring it power. A man enters a Boston Terrier into a dog race populated by greyhounds. This small pup, Mr. Quiggly, is wearing Sketchers running shoes. After falling behind in the first quarter, Mr. Quiggly surges past the pack with enough room to finish the race in style.

It's cute, it's funny, and it's memorable. You can't ask for much more than that in a Super Bowl ad. You can watch the whole thing here.

The third ad relies on a single sight gag at the end to be memorable. M&Ms have rolled out a new spokescandy. The brown M&M is back and she's tired of being objectified for her delicious looking candy coating.

Super Bowl M&Ms

The ad picks up when it focuses on the red M&M stripping down, but by that point its lost any focus on the new candy character. It's a double-edged sword: people will remember the ad, but not for the reason it exists at all. You can watch the whole thing here.

So how did so many other ads backfire this year? Simple. The majority went for the "bro" audience. From the Coca-Cola polar bears acting like overly aggressive frat brothers to beer commercials filled with gags repeated so much in thirty seconds you can't forget them, the advertisers aimed for an audience that can speak entire conversations in pop culture quotes. Surely there will be people who enjoy these ads for their content. Chances are, the people who do remember them do not remember them for the brand or product in question.

There was another tactic, as well, that I consider less welcoming. Quite a few ads were actually ads contained within ads. The biggest offender was the 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. A commercial that had nothing to do with the Star Wars universe would air, only to feature something at the end connected to Star Wars to overshadow the actual advertisement. No, I don't think people will remember the Cantina bar commercial as a Volkswagen ad.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

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