Economics

Was It Just Me or Did the Super Bowl Ads This Year Really Suck?

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Or maybe they just always did but the world was less interesting back then so we didn't notice as much?

Check out many of the SB ads here.

Check out a list of "classic" SB ads here.

My personal least favorite from this year's game (and it took some real effort to top the dental-drill-equivalent Go Daddy and Career Builder ads) was GM's "We're Obsessed with Quality," in which a robot assembler dreams of being fired after dropping a screw or something (to the strains of "All By Myself," naturally). The spot is supposed to tout GM's new 100,000 mile warranty (something that what, Kia, pushed five years ago?). But what it–and virtually every ad for every GM product–does is underscore what a crap factory GM is.

The robot ad is below (and I look forward to an anti-immigrant version in which the American robot loses a job to a Mexican robot who will work longer hours for less pay), so check it out.

In other news, Ford sales in January tanked badly enough that Daimler-Chrylser came in the number three slot. And GM dropped too, bringing us closer to the moment when Toyota becomes the top-selling U.S. car company.

NEXT: It Don't Matter Who's in Austin, Rick Perry Is Still the King

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  1. the 30 second version of the garmin ad sucked compared to this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taRPwYe1EYA

    steve grimmett!!!

  2. Nope. They sucked.

    But, I did pick up some Emerald Nuts this morning to ward of Robert Goulet.

  3. Donny Deutch was on CNBC this morning and they were talking about the ads, and the announcer says…”And how bout that robot ad? My god, what a terrible ad” and Deutch got an angry look on his face and then started arguing with the guy..the guy asks, “Wait, was this a Deutch ad?”

    Sure as shit..haha made my morning.

  4. I don’t remember a single one, but the six Scotches and a belly full of bison chops may have dulled my senses. Who won anyway?

  5. I think Budweiser is going to lead the polls for the best commercial again this year. However, there were a few more contenders this year; in particular I like the robot from General Motors.

    See for yourself, Super Bowl Commercial Poll: http://todayspolls.googlepages.com/superbowl_commercials

  6. I don’t know, I kinda thought Career Builder’s “Workplace Survival” commercials were funny, if not very original.

  7. Personally, I enjoyed the GM robot. I’ll probably never own a GM vehicle, but there’s just something about an anthropomorphic assembly machine standing on a bridge contemplating the end of it all.

  8. Campbell’s sure missed out on a tie-in opportunity.

    Welcome to the Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup-er Bowl.

  9. And I figured the GM ad would be ripe for reprisals from therapists stating “suicide is a tragic decision that should not be handled by GM in such a light manner”.

    Has there been the requisite outrage from the gay community about the Snickers ad when the men recoiled after an accidental kiss?

    And of course, there is the fast food workers outrage over the Nationwide ad with Kevin Federline.

    What other special interests groups got pissed off this Superbowl?

  10. the gm workplace robot seemed to imply that if you don’t buy GM cars the factories will shut down and workers will kill themselves. Implicit is the idea that you should buy american cars out of guilt, an idea that GM has been riding for years while shilling shitty inferior cars.

  11. For some amusing commentary on the ads, see Seth Stevenson over at Slate.com:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2158974?nav=tap3

  12. People always say the ads sucked. Every year.

    It makes me wonder exactly what they expect from a 30 second spot about selling something.

    It’s odd, because the Super Bowl ads are always more entertaining than commercials run during other networks shows. I don’t think anybody would dispute this.

    So when people complain that the SB commercials aren’t any good, it just makes me think that we shouldn’t be comparing them to Godfather Part II or Citizen Kane.

  13. So let’s get to the real news: who won the Bud Bowl this year?

    Has there been the requisite outrage from the gay community about the Snickers ad when the men recoiled after an accidental kiss?

    I had to laugh at that one, only because at that particular moment I could sense millions of homophobic, meatheaded football fans shuddering in unison. That was great.

  14. The Grand Theft Auto spoof thing wasn’t so bad. The rest blew chunks. It was sad to see GoDaddy cave, but pretend they didn’t.

  15. I liked the Doritos spicy-cheesy-bold-crunchy ad that was shot for like $12 by a bunch of kids. I thought it was at least as good as some of the other crap. Testament to sheer creativity and resourcefulness, too.

  16. the 30 second version of the garmin ad sucked compared to this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taRPwYe1EYA

    steve grimmett!!!

    Cheers for that Ron. According to the NY Times it was an allegory for the war in Iraq …

  17. I liked the Doritos spicy-cheesy-bold-crunchy ad that was shot for like $12 by a bunch of kids. I thought it was at least as good as some of the other crap.

    At least as good? It was easily 28% better than the second best. The only one I really laughed out loud at. Twice!

  18. I liked the Doritos spicy-cheesy-bold-crunchy ad that was shot for like $12 by a bunch of kids. I thought it was at least as good as some of the other crap. Testament to sheer creativity and resourcefulness, too.

    It wasn’t bad, but pretty obviously cost more than $12. Wasn’t there a car in it?

  19. And during a Coke ad which included the tag line “Thank you for drinking”, I held up my glass of Glenlivet and said “You’re welcome!”

  20. It wasn’t bad, but pretty obviously cost more than $12. Wasn’t there a car in it?

    Off me, dude…it’s still monday. I’m just reporting what I heard.

  21. It wasn’t bad, but pretty obviously cost more than $12. Wasn’t there a car in it?
    If you already own all of the items used in the production, and everyone involved volunteers their labor, and the only expense is sending the DVD to the studio, then yes it can cost $12 to create a Superbowl ad.

  22. I produce video for a living, Dan T. Trust me, you can produce a pretty good 30 second video for next to nothing.

    If everyone volunteers and the production costs amounted to a bag of Doritos and gas for the car, $12 is not an inconceivable shooting budget.

  23. If you already own all of the items used in the production, and everyone involved volunteers their labor, and the only expense is sending the DVD to the studio, then yes it can cost $12 to create a Superbowl ad.

    I know, but to me it’s kind of fuzzy math to say that things you already own didn’t cost anything.

    The alleged $12 price tag is part of the gimmick, in other words.

  24. “Or maybe they just always did but the world was less interesting back then so we didn’t notice as much?

    I think that gets to the heart of it.

    What made those late-’90s commercials generally so amusing was that they self-consciously broke the Fourth Wall… they were smart and ironic and all that. It was a new approach, and it worked.

    But that approach, by definition, had a limited shelf life; it’s hard to successfully pull off irony once the audience is expecting and watching for it. So yesterday’s ads seemed to gravitate toward the opposite side of the spectrum — big and slapsticky, etc. The ones that did attempt the whole wink-wink thing came off more forced and smarmy than clever (see: GoDaddy’s “wild marketing department” spot).

  25. I thought there were some funny ads, the snickers one where they kiss, that one where all those guys just started stripping in the street, garmin was ok, few others made me chuckle. It seemed like there just weren’t that many ads this year, and every other ad was for cbs programming and the grammys.

  26. What bothered me mostly about the snickers ad was the complete illogic of the situation. No one would ever do what they did to lead up to the fake kiss. It also surely irritated like 80% of the male viewing population which is not exactly a good advertising strategy. The homoeroticism leading up to the kiss as they orgasmically chowed down on the candy was a bit much. Football is gay enough.

    Also it didn’t make me want to eat snickers, i mean isn’t that the point?

  27. “Who won anyway?”

    I didn’t watch, but apparently Payton Manning beat the bears last night.

  28. Incidentally, my analysis of the trend toward slapstick is far more accurate than this ridiculous NYT piece today:

    Super Bowl Ads of Cartoonish Violence, Perhaps Reflecting Toll of War
    By STUART ELLIOTT
    No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.

    More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.

    Good grief, that’s goofy. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/05/business/media/05adcol.html

  29. “More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.”

    Damn! Now I’m sorry I didn’t watch. 😉

    Bet Mr. Elliott didn’t watch Roadrunner cartoons as a kid.

  30. The ad that confused me the most was the one where Jay-Z and Don Shula are playing some sort of holographic football game, and somehow Jay-Z outcoaches the hall-of-fame coach. It needed more Larry Csonka.

  31. I know, but to me it’s kind of fuzzy math to say that things you already own didn’t cost anything.

    At first I wasn’t sure what your angle was until you came up with this little chestnut. Then it was obvious that you’re just a wanker trying to start a pointless argument.

  32. “Then it was obvious that you’re just a wanker trying to start a pointless argument.”

    Dan T. being a pointless contrarian?!

    Madpad, surely you jest!

  33. More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous.

    The one about heart disease came across this way to me. Which was too bad, since a bunch of street toughs taking it out on a metrosexual in a large plush heart costume has a lot of comic promise.

  34. Only two ads registered at some level above background noise for me: the one where Carlos Mencia was teaching the immigrants to say something (I forget what; something about beer, I imagine); and the homo-Snickers ad. The Mencia ad got a chuckle out of me; the Snickers ad made me think, “Edgy, circa 1990”. All the other ads ranged from forgettable to excruciatingly obnoxious.

  35. My favorite commerical was the one where I vomited after drinking only two beers due to undercooked potstickers and poor judgement making skills. Or maybe that was real life.

  36. Which was too bad, since a bunch of street toughs taking it out on a metrosexual in a large plush heart costume has a lot of comic promise.

    Guilty pleasure I guess, but I liked that ad.

  37. Dan T. being a pointless contrarian?!Madpad, surely you jest!

    Yeah…what was I thinking.

    Some days it seems this board serve no other function but to give hairsplitters, hyperbolists and hardcases a place to vent their spleens and take out their frustrations over boring jobs, bad life choices and lousy social prospects on everyone else.

    Since I’ve done that myself on occassion, that’s not a compaint or a judgement…just an observation.

  38. The manufacturing geeks over at the Evolving Excellence blog (www.evolvingexcellence.com) are thrashing the GM commercial as well. Fundamentally they say the reason Toyota has such high quality is due to their respect for people, which creates employee continuous improvement suggestion programs, which robots can’t do. Instead of firing someone (or a robot) over a dropped screw, Toyota would get a team of people together to figure out what process failure led to the screw being dropped? not canning tens of years of experience for a mistake that probably wasn’t the person’s (robot’s) fault. It’s a good read:

    http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2007/02/gms_disrespect_.html

  39. Fundamentally they say the reason Toyota has such high quality is due to their respect for people,

    I don’t know if I buy that one. Japanese auto companies don’t shy away from automation or firing workers. Mistubishi laid off over 13,000 in 2004.

    In general, the corporate culture may be better because unions don’t frustrate the improvement process and managers aren’t as mind-numbingly stupid. But say what you will about U.S. automakers, their reliability has been going up as has the over-all quality of U.S. cars.

    Not saying you don’t have a point…but the evolving excellence site won’t load so I can’t get more details.

  40. C’mon the Sierra Mist “beard combover” was hilarious! The Bud Light with the auctioneer was pretty good too.

  41. The COKE side of life is when you truly believe small creatures are inside the vending machine.

  42. I hate to say it, but maybe the GM assembly line robots need to unionize.

  43. So no one has a comment about the Coke ad with the guy from GTA jumping out of his car and sharing his soda with everyone in the neighborhood?

  44. Actually, I thought the ad was more targeted towards the UAW collectively. A little reminder of what is at stake if their host goes down the tubes.

  45. I hate to say it, but maybe the GM assembly line robots need to unionize.

    The first thought that went through my head when I saw that commercial was, “What crappy labor relations GM has.”

  46. “The COKE side of life is when you truly believe small creatures are inside the vending machine.”

    Actually, the coke side of life ended in a bit of a blur back in the ’80s. Or was that just me?

    BTW, part of GM’s problem might be that for the longest time nobody ever got fired for any reason. That robot commercial was in rather bad taste, considering what’s going on at GM, and it’s pretty amazing that millions of dollars get spent on such things without anybody seeing that.

  47. So no one has a comment about the Coke ad with the guy from GTA jumping out of his car and sharing his soda with everyone in the neighborhood?

    I’ve been seeing that commercial for the better part of a year. Maybe it was just during the commercials we have to watch before a movie in the theater.

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