Super Bowl ads: it’s time to get back to advertising

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The best known Super Bowl spot of all time is perhaps the Apple 1984 one. For that era, it was the equivalent of ‘shock and awe’, I guess. Over time, advertising during the event has been a subject of increasing public & media attention. The result: advertisers wanted to outdo each other in getting attention. For a while it was funny. The early spots for EDS, E*Trade, Budweiser (frog), (‘When I grow up’), Tabasco (‘Mosquito’) were genuinely funny and memorable.

Over the years, things have become repetitive. Being bizarre, outrageous and aiming for the lowest common denominator in terms of IQ levels may have delivered results years ago. Not anymore. So stop aiming to please only the cretins among the audience. I think GoDaddy is a perfect example of this. What worked some 5 years ago is being rehashed and re-presented over and over again. It’s tiring to watch. Almost feel like the guy in the Career Builder ad – letting out deep sighs.

I showed a 50-odd ad collection of last night’s Super Bowl in the office. Underwhelming is the word that comes to mind. See the ads here or here. What gives? I think agencies are getting caught up in their own creativity or too much of this crowd sourcing bit is happening. What explains the lack of a single, outstanding ad with an idea? Google’s Parisian Love was my favourite among the lot – simply because it was devoid of any buffoonery.  It’s perhaps becuase the event and the advertising around it has become what we in India call, a tamasha.

Trust me, next year will be no different. There will be even more crowd sourcing, even more hype before the event (why on earth do advertisers release their Super Bowl ads to media before the event?) and even more bizarre ad themes. Hopefully the old style advertising will stand out even more.

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  1. Why '1984' is still referred as the best super bowl commercial? I think its because of 2 things. The product itself and obviously the creative. Nowadays an ad in the super bowl is considered to be a mandatory!

    Do you think that PEPSI, with its decision to opt-out of Super bowl for it "Pepsi Refresh Project" has showed the world a new way to make meaning full move rather than just pumping dollars for few weeks of super bowl?

    Will it happen in India where a brand can do away with IPL and use that money to establish a meaningful relationship with its consumers?

    Good day,

    Manoj Kandasamy.

  2. Manoj, apart from Pepsi, the other ex-Super Bowl regular Fedex pulled out of the event – for the 2nd year in a row. Pepsi did a smart thing by prolonging the buzz on the brand for a longer period than just limiting it to this one day/event. Also, SB perhaps makes sense for smaller/lesser known brands to propel themselves into the public domain. In India, right all brands – big & small, seem to be clamouring for the IPL!

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