The Superbowl Advertising Doritos Chew Test
Hundreds of articles are written about the Superbowl. This year is no exception. Superbowl XLIII is now history, leaving the morning DJs to oooohhh and ahhhhh about how young and vigorous the "Boss" looked during the half time show. Sports writers will argue all year about whether the Cardinals' final score came too early, leaving more than two minutes for the Steelers to engineer a comeback. They can debate whether the '09 or '08 Superbowl was the "best ever." And of course plenty of marketing experts are telling us which commercials we all liked best.
I would like to offer my opinion on the last matter as well. But what's a guy to do without a huge national forum or Matt Lauer to interview him? My search for a new and interesting angle is what leads me to reveal the results of the first annual "Superbowl Advertising Doritos Chew Test."
Everybody knows how loud Doritos can be as you mangle them between your molars. That makes Doritos a natural enemy to a person's ability to pay complete attention. So the idea here is that if a spot is good enough to make you stop chewing for a portion of the commercial, then you know you've got a good one. Visuals and copy must immediately grab your attention. Plus there has to be an idea that is emotional, humorous or thrilling enough to bring your jaws and teeth to a full stop.
Although none of this year's spots was "breakthrough" good (in the order of the Apple 1984 commercial or the very old MasterLock spot) there was a decent crop of average and above average TV ads this year. My top five are:
5. Coke Zero And A Smile. This commercial reprised the 1979 Mean Joe Green spot, but with a twist. In this version, the Steelers' Troy Polamalu has a warm exchange with a cute kid but is then confronted by "Coke" lawyers. He ends up decking one meddlesome attorney and then throwing the lawyer's ripped shirt to the grateful kid. I stopped and chewing for virtually the entire spot.
4. Bridgestone Potato Heads. Bridgestone really cut through the visual clutter of fast car/street chase ads (both automotive and movie spots). It was a hoot to see Mrs. Potato Head lose her "nagging" mouth after Mr. Potato Head's skillful, Bridgestone Tire-enabled stop. And everyone can feel good that the herd of sheep was saved from "mashed" Potato Heads.
3. Careerbuilder.com "If You Hate Going To Work." Talk about a spot that keeps reiterating its central point. This commercial stopped my munching mandibles with a cute sequence showing a woman screaming inside her car, a man belittled by a co-worker, as well as dolphin-riding and small animal-punching fantasies. It was a long commercial but it made its point well--and repeatedly. I laughed all the way back to the salsa dish.
2. Monster.com's Moose Butt. We've all had jobs where we did the toiling while someone else reaped the rewards. This commercial shows both sides of that familiar employment story. In one room luxury abounds around a do-nothing boss who loafs beneath a mounted moose head. Then the camera moves around to the "real worker" inside the room behind the boss's. Here an employee works uncomfortably, beneath the moose's rear end. Talk about getting the smelly end of a deal.
1. Budweiser's Clydesdale & Stick. Forget about the Steelers. The Budweiser Clydesdales are a franchise to be reckoned with. In fact, the approach is so familiar and loveable that the spot doesn't have to work at all to let you know the specific product that is being sold. And the Clydesdales stood out well in a year of transfomers, avatars, auto chase scenes and injured man humor. My favorite of the Clydesdale bunch features a smart aleck horse determined to one-up the Dalmatian, which had just fetched a stick for the team master. Not to be outdone, the Clydesdale delivers an entire tree limb and lays it at his master's feet. I also liked the Clydesdale Circus Loverboy spot. To heck with the chips and salsa. Bring me a Bud.
And what about the Doritos commercials? "Crunch Test" was cute but too much like all the other spots, where physical pain was the punch line. People are also sure to be talking about the Doritos "Crystal Ball" spot. It was attention-getting if office vandalism is your thing. But the spot's final "impact" is never something a guy wants to watch while he is eating Doritos. Score Doritos an A for product and a B- for commercials.
An honorable mention goes to Pepsi for it's "Forever Young/Generations" spot. The GE Scarecrow/"If I Only Had A Brain" spot and NBC's "LMAO" promo get honorable mentions, too. The worst spot in my book was the H&R Block Death & Taxes commercial. Someone should tell this company that people don't particularly like to think about death or taxes. The grim reaper was gross. I spit my chips into a napkin over that one.
The only other downside of the Superbowl commercial selection was that there seemed to be an incredible mishmash of spots featuring crashing cars and morphing monstrosities. Good thing we had a decent game to watch between these.
See all the Superbowl spots at www.hulu.com/superbowl. Or click below.
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