Monday Morning Quarterback: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Super Bowl 41
Like it or not, only one team came out of yesterday's game with a new ring and the new title of "Super Bowl 41 Champion." But in the game of Super Bowl advertising, there's room for more than one at the top. Despite the hefty price-tag of $2.6 million for a 30-second spot, 80 commercials took on the Super Bowl ad challenge. You do the math--that means the ads alone brought in about $208 million.
By now, you've probably dissected each ad with friends, family and co-workers. But what did critics think? We spoke with Steve McKee, president of advertising agency McKee Wallwork Cleveland, this morning to get his thoughts on the best and worst of Super Bowl 41. For the seventh consecutive year, McKee's agency worked in partnership with Rassai Interactive to operate the ad-ranking site www.ADBOWL.com.
"On the whole, the ads this year lacked a certain spark," said McKee. "There weren't any truly big ideas or breakthrough concepts. A number of spots were well executed, but, in general, this year's ads were a little disappointing. But the great thing about Super Bowl ads is everybody's entitled to their own opinion."
So far, the website has received about 30,000 opinions and will receive more votes throughout the day and the rest of the week. Here's how it worked: Viewers registered for free on ADBOWL's site and rated the commercials on a scale between one and five, with one being a "Fumble" and five being a "Touchdown." Here are the results of the top five ads ranked by ADBOWL voters as of midnight Sunday.
The Top Five Ads (as ranked by ADBOWL voters):
- Bud Light: "Rock, Paper, Scissors"
How It Scored: Overall, this ad ranked highest by ADBOWL voters. The spot ranked in the top three for all five categories, including Women's Choice, Men's Choice, Ages Under 17, and Ages 18-plus.
Watch it: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819647
- Blockbuster Video: "Mouse"
How It Scored: Blockbuster's spot came in closely behind Bud Light's spot. The commercial scored number one with Ages 18-plus and Women, while it came in second for Men and only eighth for Ages Under 17.
Watch it: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819648
- Budweiser: "Dalmation"
How It Scored: "Dalmation" ranked in the top three for both Women and Ages 18-plus. It dropped to number seven for Men and didn't even rank for Ages Under 17.
Watch it: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819653
- Bud Light: "But He Has Bud Light"
How It Scored: Bud Light came in closely behind Budweiser's ad and showed its universal appeal by ranking in the top 5 for each of the five categories.
Watch it: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819735
- General Motors: "Robot"
How It Scored: "Robot" was a favorite with Ages Under 17, coming in at number three. But it dropped to number seven for Women, and number nine for Ages 18-plus and Men.
Watch it: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819657
McKee says that so far, a fairly even mix of men and women have voted, both young and old. Many of those voters submitted their rankings as the game progressed. "People were obviously watching the game with their laptops nearby because votes were streaming in after each commercial break," said McKee.
Once again, Budweiser was able to create at least five winning ads that scored big with men and women of all ages, especially with its Bud Light brand. What is the magical ingredient that makes their ads work? "They know how to win. They know the formula to make a Super Bowl ad popular. Their product is fun [and] people expect good things from them, so they can just let loose and have a good time," explains McKee.
Though established companies like Budweiser, Coca Cola and FedEx are always expected to come out on top, there are always a few ads that surprise even the critics. According to McKee, one of this year's top surprise ads was the Snickers spot in which two men devour a Snickers bar together and end up locking lips. "I was surprised. I thought the Snickers ad would do better," says McKee. "It was one of the rare surprises in the game for me in that I didn't expect it to go where it went. In my mind though, they milked the joke too far." This ad didn't show up at all in ADBOWL's top 10, but did show up at number six for Ages Under 17.
Another spot McKee didn't expect to see in the top 10 came from General Motors. McKee says their "Robot" ad was charming and very well done. Typically, consumers tend to think of General Motors in terms of their more well-known brands like Chevrolet and Buick. So, nobody expected them to come out with an ad that would score big with consumers--but they did. "For them to crack the top 10 was a tremendous achievement," said McKee.
Media build-up and hype played a factor in the success of the consumer-generated
Doritos "Car Wreck" ad and helped it garner a spot in ADBOWL's rankings in several different categories.
Another hyped-up ad didn't quite live up to its potential. The much anticipated Nationwide Insurance ad featuring K-Fed--a.k.a. Britney Spear's ex-husband, Kevin Federline--didn't rank in the top 10 of any ADBOWL category rankings. McKee thinks this spot was the right ad for the wrong company. "The target audience for annuities would tune out the ad long before the punchline," McKee said. But, he points out that Nationwide was wise to pick a celebrity the media cares so much about. "The media hyped the ad, which made consumers pay attention," said McKee.
We've seen the cream of the crop. So what about the ads we're talking about for the wrong reasons? McKee says this year's biggest losers include Pizza Hut and SalesGenie.com. "The Pizza Hut ad with Jessica Simpson bombed. And the SalesGenie ad was a total fish out of water in the Super Bowl. It just didn't fit the environment," McKee said. But he was quick to point out that even though the SalesGenie ad may have tanked from an advertising standpoint, it could still have the power to generate sales and draw people to the site.
One ad that McKee says has been played out is GoDaddy.com's spot. "The GoDaddy ad choked. I am sure they'll argue it still drove millions of people to their website, which it probably did, but now it's almost become a parody of itself and it's just not working."
If you can't get enough of the post-Super Bowl advertising criticism, go to www.ADBOWL.com to view the rest of the top 10 list and to see the results broken down by gender and age. Is your favorite ad missing? The polls are still open throughout the rest of the week, so you still have time to get your vote counted.If you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out our picks for the top breakthrough Super Bowl ads of all time.