Yet Another Superbowl Ad Post-Mortem

Fanhouse has their aggregation of the 2011 Superbowl ads, quarter by quarter, brought to us by Kia.

The faith-in-humanity-reducing USA Today Ad Meter declared its increasingly-suspect winners as chosen by a 282 person sampling of Californians and Virginians. weighed in with their AdZone rankings, brought to us by Geico, and apparently they have a somewhat less shot-to-the-groin-friendly demographic.

On Sunday night, Fox presented Superbowl XLV to an audience estimated at over 110 million people, making it the single most-watched event in TV history.  Which helps explain both the $100,000/second pricetag for spots during the broadcast and the Monday morning creative directing by seemingly everyone.  Judging Superbowl ads has become our wintry national pastime.

One theme that came up just slightly less often than the reliable chestnut “the work just wasn’t as good this year” was the assertion that VW’s charming Star Wars-themed Passat ad “The Force” cheated. A number of blogs and commenters took issue with their decision to release that Superbowl Ad to YouTube last Wednesday, a full four days before the game itself.  The consensus seems to be that by racking up over fourteen million views before gametime, the ad somehow disqualified itself as a bona fide Superbowl ad.

Excuse me?

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingMarketing isn’t professional boxing.  There are no Marquess of Queensberry Rules insuring a level field of play.  We don’t want level playing fields. Our job is and has always been, to bend the rules, to do the unexpected, to earn favor and attention by innovating with our creative, strategic and media ideas.  In a socially-driven culture, building up a big head of steam for your contender isn’t cheating, it’s really, really smart.  Despite being hacktastic, Doritos’ “Crash the Superbowl” grows more successful every year in terms of entries and pre-game voting, to the point where Pepsi Max joined that crotch-whacking fray this year.

Aside from integrity and decency, there are no rules. Today, the biggest rewards await any brand clever enough to innovate how they weave together personal and broadcast networks in new and surprising ways.

Amidst a surplus of clutter and a deficit of attention, gaming the system is today’s ad game.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


2 thoughts on “Yet Another Superbowl Ad Post-Mortem

  1. miguel says:

    I saw how everyone was saying how brilliant that VW spot was and I watched it online before the Super Bowl. Aside from a stellar performance by Darth Kid and being well produced, I don’t see what everyone’s raving about. “Oh, you have to have kids,” someone told me. Well, I do have one of those. Sorry, still don’t like it. It really bothered me enough to think hard about why I didn’t like it. Part of it reminded me about beer advertising in the 90s when you’d have spots going retro, drawing on pop culture nostalgia or referring to an old TV show. At the time, getting Tattoo from Fantasy Island into a spot was a great idea. Or hey, who would you rather hook up with… Ginger or Mary Ann? Okay, so VW is playing to the Star Wars kids who are all grown up now with kids of their own. I get it. Does the new Passat give you the Force? I guess I’ll only know if I test drive one. Do I want to after seeing this spot? Hell no. I’d feel dirty. I don’t my love of the Star Wars franchise to sell me cars. To me, this spot about the Force, just feels forced. And, “This is not the VW spot I was looking for.”

  2. Kristen says:

    For me, it’s not a question of whether of not the VW ad made its literal debut at the Super Bowl, but whether or not I (and 110 million of my closest friends!!) experienced it as its debut. Because I had already seen the spot half a dozen times, it was a little like peeking at a Christmas present before the big day, and then pretending to be surprised when I unwrapped it Christmas morning. It’s a GREAT ad, but it lost a little of it’s ‘ta dah’-ness for me when I saw it during the Super Bowl. All of that aside, the brilliant marketing move that made 14 million (including me) make an effort to seek out the spot and watch it attentively beforehand is undoubtedly worth far more than the few of us for whom the magic of the moment was diminished, ever so slightly…

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