The obligatory Super Hole VII – Creative Director edition


— 9:37 AM on February 4, 2013

Jason Fox, our resident Mac fan, spends his days working in advertising as a copywriter and all-around creative guy. He has an annual tradition of doing his own post-mortem on the Super Bowl ads. This year, we've asked him to post his write-up on the MacHole, just for fun.

This year, I've decided to do things a bit different. Instead of merely reviewing the ads, I'll act as a Monday-morning creative director and offer advice on how these spots could have been better. Which is easy for me to do when I don't have a client in the edit suite demanding to have "Like us on Twitterspace!" plastered along the bottom third of the screen and insisting all action take place in the 4:3 frame because that's what their grammy still watches. Anyway. As usual: I only review ads shown during the four quarters of the game, so no pre- or post-game bits. No movie trailers, TV show promos, NFL ads or local ads.

Spots are more-or-less arranged in alphabetical order according to brand (but not holding company). I don't guarantee that I got them all. You, too, have access to Google.

And if you helped make one of the ads that I didn't care for, well, you worked on a Super Bowl ad. I did not. You can point out my typos and laugh.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, "Black Crown - Coronation" – The best way to change this spot would be to kill the product. Barring that, this bit won't convince its apparent target market of leather-clad hipsters one whit. That's right, I said whit. If you're going to extend your line for the 453rd time, you better give me a better example of what the beer actually is. In this case, I can only speculate that it's leftover Bud Dry in new bottles.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, "Black Crown - Celebration" – I do not want to join this cult.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, "Bud Light - Journey" – This spot had me until Stevie Wonder showed up. No offense, but his cameo was rather pointless. And I swear I've seen that ending before.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, "Bud Light – Lucky Chair" – More Stevie Wonder, but a better payoff on this one. Also, still grateful for the lack of a flatulent horse (Google it, kids).

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, "Budweiser – Brotherhood" – The spot itself is fantastic. The social media component tacked onto the end, less so. I'm sure they'll get a ton of hits and tweets and whatnot, but the ending does what a great ad (which this is for 98% of its running time) never should: take people out of the moment and remind them they're watching a commercial message.

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Audi, "Prom (Worth It)" – I like this spot, although it feels a little subtle, black eye notwithstanding. While the open bit between the son, mom, and little sister rang true, it stole time from the son/dad interaction. Which makes for a weaker connection between the dad trusting his son with his A6 and how that inspires his courage at the prom. Granted, in this day and age the kid would probably be expelled for harassment, too.

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Axe, "Lifeguard" – The idea that "nothing beats an astronaut" is pretty solid. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my classmates would start arguing over whose dad could beat up the others. I'd step in and say that my dad could arrest all their dads and stick them in jail since my dad was a cop. Win. However, this spot was all build-up (nice shark punch, BTW) without a big enough payoff. In this case, I think the astronaut should either make a splashier entrance, or be part of the spot earlier on. I do appreciate the lack of skank, however.

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Beck's, "Sapphire" – Wherein we learn that Nemo grows up to like mid-grade German beer. Or did I miss something?

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Best Buy, "Ask Amy" – Amy Poehler is awesome. She is funny. She makes this spot worth watching. Strangely, this spot is meant to prove that Best Buy has all the answers. But, if you watch, the Blue Shirt only answers about 2% of Amy's questions. Sure, you can blame the editing, but should you?

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Cars.com, "Wolf" – Simple, communicated the main message well, decently entertaining. Best use of $3.4 million ever? No. But compared to what I've seen so far, well done. And better than last year's two-head spots.

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Calvin Klein, "Concept" – Cannot unsee.

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Century 21, "Wedding" – The only message I picked up from this is that Century 21 agents troll weddings for new clients. Was that in the brief?

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Coca-Cola, "Chase" – Hmmm. Coke is trying a choose-your-own-adventure approach this year, starting with this spot. Viewers can go online and vote for an ending. I believe two versions will be aired during post-game festivities. But I don't really care. While the production values are uniformly excellent, I don't really care about any of the people involved in this desert-based search for sweet, sweet Coca-Cola refreshment. Which is a shame, because Coke ads usually rock. I think this spot needed more action and more dialog. Because trying to develop the characters without at least a couple pithy lines just didn't cut it.

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Coca-Cola, "Security Cameras" – This is a recut version of a long-existing spot. Still nice, but I'm not sure why Coke is encouraging vandalism. Here's the long-form version:

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Doritos, "Goat 4 Sale" – One of the winners of yet another "Crash the Super Bowl" contest in which Doritos lovers enter their own spots only to lose out to production companies willing to shoot stuff for free. This spot was better than many I've seen in the past. But maybe I'm just a sucker for a well-placed goat. Still, "guy in beard" is a bit too stock of a character these days. And I should know.

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Doritos, "Fashionista Dad" – Reminded me of an episode of "According to Jim." That should never be construed as a compliment.

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E-Trade, "Save It" – More talkin' babies. Which, for some strange reason, I tend to like because they always put good dialog in the baby day trader's mouth. Not so much this time. And I'm not just saying that because I've done work for TD Ameritrade recently.

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Gildan Activewear, "Getaway" – I don't know what they could've done to salvage this spot, but I can tell you what they should have done in four words: Jerry Seinfeld, Golden Boy.

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GoDaddy, "YourBigIdea.CO" – It's a post-Christmas miracle! A GoDaddy ad that I actually enjoy. One that isn't sexist, stupid, sexist, dumb, sexist, idiotic or sexist! And it even pulls off the overlapping montage (or "choddy") in a good way. I think the dialog could've been a bit more unique (like the "sky waitress" bit), but still. I don't feel dirty having seen this. I can only assume GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons was out of the country shooting animals when this was produced.

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GoDaddy, "Perfect Match" – And back to stereotypes. And inappropriate camera angles. And I have no idea why my Internet hosting company needs a sexy side. I'm not paying for that. Start over.

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Hyundai, "Excited" – This spot for the Genesis R-Spec (that's "super sporty" to you non-gearheads) sedan is Hyundai's only misstep of their multi-spot Super Bowl assault. The raw specs are quite good, but without being wrapped in a story, they just pale in comparison to Hyundai's other ads. I'd either have sold the R-Spec's bona fides the same way the other spots do for other models, or have run the "Don't Tell" spot instead, even it has already aired.

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Hyundai, "Epic Playdate" – Nice use of the Flaming Lips (especially the Zorb reference). My only wish is that they'd done a subtle bit of minivan taunting. And that the person driving the minivan had been me. (Sad face.) Well played.

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Hyundai, "Stuck" – While many automakers are turning to smaller, turbocharged engines to increase gas mileage, Hyundai is, in this spot at least, touting the power benefits of forced induction. It's not anything that hasn't been seen before, premise-wise, but the situations are creatively constructed and just believable enough to work. Slobbering hounds FTW!

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Hyundai, "Team" – The extended version (a :45) is better than this :30 that aired during the game. However, this version is still quite strong, marred only by the final shot where the bully character is obviously being yanked from behind. Choose a different ending and this mother in gold. Mom's steely gaze is awesome.

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Jeep, "Whole Again" – Only a brand born from military service could get away with this kind of spot. Jeep almost did it. But starting with an Oprah quote and then having her do the voiceover, just doesn't smack of armed forces pride. Still, I can't help but get weepy seeing parents return home to their kids.

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Kia, "Space Babies" – This ad for Kia's Sorento crossover is loaded with stellar production values. It is seriously one of the best-looking spots I've seen in a while when it comes to animating animals and babies. Unfortunately, I don't really know what the point of the spot was. If, as the ending art card implies, it's about the Sorento having an answer for everything (and a trademarked answer, no less), then why is that squeezed into a two-second bit near the end? Kids ask a lot of questions (especially my son Gideon), so why not have the son in this spot fire off a barrage of q's at an increasing rate as the dad, well-versed in his son's querying ways, fires back with answers involving the car? It could still include fancy dream sequences while avoiding the "Wheels on the Bus" ending. Please, that boy is too old to be distracted by WOTB.

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Kia, "Hotbots" – Another nicely produced spot that leaves me wondering what the message is. Obviously, I'm supposed to "respect the tech" lest I be assaulted by fembots with their seams showing. But what's the tech? You're showing me a Kia Forte. Which is not an unattractive vehicle by any means, but it's not exactly known as a harbinger of bleeding-edge auto technology. Less nerd, more nerdy goodness to, perhaps, respect, please.

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Lincoln, "Steer the Script" – Lincoln's first-ever Bowl spot from their bespoke WPP agency, HudsonRouge, was theoretically written by the brand's Twitter followers. And if anyone can tell me what those followers were smoking, please do.

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Lincoln, "Phoenix" – This spot was the polar opposite of Chrysler's intro for the 200 a couple of years ago. Whereas that was a great spot for a mediocre car, this is a mediocre spot for (what looks like) a great car. If you're going to go esoteric, you better write, write, and rewrite. And then probably do something else. Esoteric is hard, yo.

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M&M's, "Love Ballad" – Best use of Meatloaf ever. And that includes "Fight Club." I wouldn't have bothered with the actress from "Glee," however. Didn't add anything to the spot.

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Mercedes-Benz, "Soul" – Nice ending, but needed less fluff, more Dafoe. I suspect those fingernails were natural.

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Milk Processors, "The Rock" – I really wanted to like this spot, but something didn't quite click for me. In this case, I think the scenarios that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson bypasses in his quest for milk should have ratcheted up the absurd factor faster. You've got an iconic campaign (although no longer in the hands its creators at Goodby), a likeable action star and sweet, sweet, lactose-fueled moolah. But you still need a story. And a lion on top of grandma's car just ain't it. Maybe if it had been the guy from the old "Aaron Burr" spot. Maybe.

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Mio, "Anthem" – I'll bet the outtakes for this spot, starring comedian Tracy "Tracy Jordan" Morgan are downright high-lare-ee-us. The spot itself is an argument for keeping the outtakes in.

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Oreo, "Whisper Fight" – This reminded me of the old Cliff Freeman spots for Little Caesar's Pizza. And that's a very good thing. And then, when the power in the stadium went out, Oreo tweeted this pic. Win.

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Pepsi, "Beyoncé" – I have a relationship with Pepsi's AOR, TBWA\Chiat\Day, so I'll be keeping my mouth shut lest I be perceived as either a sycophant or an idiot. Or has that ship already sailed?

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Pepsi Next, "Party" – See above.

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Pizza Hut, "Hut Hut Hut" – If only yesterday had been the day user-created content had died.

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Ram Trucks, "Farmer" – The elegant words of Paul Harvey combined with stunning still photos of the American farmer. The Midwestern boy couldn't help but get goose bumps. But I suspect the same could be said of Manhattanites, too. Would've left the "Here's to the farmer in all of us" super at the end off, but still, very, very well done.

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Samsung, "The Next Big Thing" – I enjoyed the two minutes (yes, two minutes) I got to spend with Seth and Paul and Bob. Nice guys. Funny guys. Clever bit of meta-ness with Lebron. Still have no idea why I should want a Samsung mobile device. Am I supposed to learning on Pinterest or something?

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Skechers "GOrun 2 - Man vs. Cheetah" – I have owned perhaps a dozen pairs of Skechers through the years. This spot makes me regret almost every one of those purchases. Tired premise. Poor visual effects.

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SodaStream, "The SodaStream Effect" – The spot SodaStream originally planned on airing was nixed by CBS. Probably because it directly attacked Coke and Pepsi—two major sponsors of the game. I don't blame them for doing so as business is business (hey, these are "commercial" messages, remember?), but the ensuing uproar guaranteed SodaStream way more exposure than they may have otherwise received. I think this spot is actually better than the Coke vs. Pepsi vs. SodaStream spot, although I still don't quite understand the message. I should buy it to save the planet? I'm guessing I'd buy it to save money. But I'm not surprised by the green angle given its creator is Alex Bogusky. I think you could have kept the same general premise with the exploding bottles while trumpeting a more consumer-centric message. But then, I'm no hippie.

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Speed Stick, "Unattended Laundry" – For a second I thought this was a student version of the old Southwest Airlines "Wanna Get Away?" campaign. If you're going to go cheap on production for a Super Bowl spot, go cheap with purpose. Or at least lose the inner monologue.

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Subway, "15 Years" – I've always admire Jared for turning his weight loss into a lucrative ad career. Good for him. Not sure it was worth the coin to tout his 15 years of slimness with this spot, though. Okay, I am sure. It wasn't.

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Taco Bell, "Viva Young" – If you're going to have old people acting young, you should twist it in some way other than having a few elders act like hipster doofii. A cameo by "Cocoon" star Wilfred Brimley wouldn't hurt, either. Although TB probably isn't great for his diabeetus.

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Tide, "Miracle Stain" – The key to this well-produced spot was creating a twist ending that no one would see coming. Wait? That didn't happen? Bummer. 'Twas entertaining while it lasted.

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Time Warner Cable, "The Walking Dead" – Well produced? Yes. Enjoyable? Pretty much. Seen this concept before? You betcha. Netflix. 2006. And that probably wasn't so new then, either.

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Toyota, "Wish Granted" – Another spot with great production values and little to say. The message I received: the hatch-mounted spare tire is gone. Again, give me a reason to like the vehicle, not just the ad. Grant the wishes via the RAV-4 in (semi-)grounded ways. At least they didn't use Sheldon. So overexposed.

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Volkswagen, "Get in. Get happy." – People have been accusing this spot of being racist because the white protagonist speaks like a Rastafarian. That is dumb. If you want racist, watch the animated SalesGenie.com spots from a few years ago. At worst, this spot is innocuous. Which is nice way of saying boring. Bring back Tiny Darth.

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Wonderful Pistachios, "Get Crackin'" – Psy. Sorry, sigh. I quit.

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