Score one for Doritos, Radio Shack and Tim Tebow, but it’s back to the bench for GoDaddy.com, Soda Stream and Maserati.
Radio Shack was widely regarded the MVP of Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials with its “The ’80s Called: They Want Their Store Back” ad. In it, countless ’80s relics such as Hulk Hogan, Mary Lou Retton, Q-bert and the California Raisins arrive to dissemble an outdated Radio Shack store so room can be made for a more contemporary one.
“It was transparent and authentic of the brand to admit they have an issue with their image and own up to it in a funny way,” said Sandy Gingerich at Eric Mower + Associates in Buffalo. “Every time you watch it you see something new.”
Doritos also scored with its “Time Machine” ad, where a little boy named Jimmy offers a man a trip in his cardboard time machine, powered by Doritos. The boy takes off with the Doritos, and the man emerges – mistaking another old man for a now-aged Jimmy.
Tim Tebow won fans with his “No contract” ads for T-Mobile, playing off his lack of an NFL contract and T-Mobile’s no-contract cellphone plans.
“Everyone thinks I want a contract. But without one, I’ve done so much this year,” Tebow says, before going on to deliver babies, tackle Bigfoot, ride a bull and save puppies from a burning building.
“It perfectly dovetailed with T-Mobile’s message and their point of differentiation – that you don’t have to sign a contract with their company,” said Jeff Bucki, associate creative director for Travers Collins. “That’s exactly what you want to accomplish with a commercial.”
Others didn’t fare so well.
GoDaddy.com fell victim to its own hype, announcing before the game that a real person would quit their job during one of its commercials. It turned out to be a kind of boring machine engineer named Gwen, who gave her two weeks’ notice on the air in order to start her own puppet-making business. Critics thought it fell flat, lacked drama and didn’t feel real.
Soda Stream used Scarlett Johansson to hawk its at-home soda-making machine. She disrobed and drank a glass of homemade soda in slow motion.
“It was uninspiring. The product’s benefits got lost in this celebrity soup,” said Dan Bartlo of Amherst ad company Quinlan. “I think a lot of brands were just name dropping and forgot to talk about what makes them great.”
Another example of that was Maserati’s use of acclaimed “Beasts of the Southern Wild” actress Quvenzhane Wallis.
Over stylized shots that could have come from the Oscar-nominated film, Wallis delivered a bewildering monologue about waiting until the giants get sleepy.
“Walk out of the shadows, quietly walk out of the dark, and strike,” Wallis says, before an awkward transition shows a Maserati Ghibli speeding down the highway.
It was widely regarded as odd and confusing.
“They got so overwhelmed in the production values, so lost in the concept,” Bartlo said. “It was like, ‘we’re going to make our spot beautiful because our car is beautiful’ instead of showing how great the car is.”
Win or lose, the majority of advertisers got what they wanted – eyeballs. With today’s fragmented viewing audiences fast-forwarding commercials via their digital video recorders or skipping them altogether by viewing their entertainment via tablets, smartphones or computers, the Super Bowl is one of the last big nights of the year advertisers can count on.
Even if viewership falls off halfway through – as it looks like it might have after halftime Sunday – people continue to view and discuss the commercials for days afterward.
National advertisers paid $4 million per 30-second, in-game ad. Local advertisers spent an average of $18,000 per 30-second spot according to Patrick Lewis at Eric Mower. The average local prime time ad slot sells for about $1,200.
“It sounds insane, and it kind of is,” Bucki said. “But at least you know you can reach people with your message.”