Okay, having praised a few great ads, its only fair to offer some armchair quarterbacking on how a few contenders could have been great.
1. Budweiser: Clydesdales
It could have been great: This started out as one of the day’s best beer ads. And I’m sure some think its great. After all, cute baby horses and loving farmers stand out from the rancor of product promotion. But it in my opinion it goes off track.
The spot starts out by adding dimension to Budweiser’s iconoic Clydesdale team. But then it turns in to a semi-magical story of reuniting the farmer and his now grown-up colt, tainting what had been an authentic moment with a hoaky story line followed by incongruous social media call to action.
The ad’s ending invites viewers to tweet what Budweiser should name the colt. Yes, the one the ad just portrayed as a grown-up horse. So, while we all got the story is fiction, this call to tweet drives that fiction home in a way that diminishes the ads authentic and emotional foundation.
It could have been better:
If I were creative directing at Anomaly, Budweiser’s agency, I’d keep the first part of the ad “farmer gives colt to Budweiser” and make the social media call to action be to tweet your town and state to get the Clydesdales to come visit your town’s all American 4th of July parade. That’s authentic, American, local, patriotic, and just seems more plausible intersection of audience interest.
It would give the Clydedales more relevance and tangibility, which is where this ad was headed. Save the magical realism auto makers. Budweiser is great at selling its brand and beer; just keep it real.
2. Volkswagen – Get happy
Every year someone blows it. But I’m shocked that VW who brought us a kid pretending to be Vader, now brings us a Midwestern guy pretending to be Jar Jar Binks. Okay, he’s pretending to be Rastafarian…but so was Jar Jar, and they both deserve ridicule. The connection between German engineering and Rastafarian culture seems as incongruous as German engineering and humor.
This ad by Deutsch, Los Angeles, who was behind the Milk ad I just mentioned as among the day’s best, misses its own mark. They set out to show how “VW’s spread delight” but they made an only slightly funny ad which makes the car’s owner seem like a culturally deaf dolt. Ennobling the portrayed owner (perhaps by using an actor from the Office) and cutting the accent could have made a better brand experience.
3. Megan Fox for Motorola and some product…sort of.
This ad is straight from Super Bowl central casting: reference to nearly non-existant sex appeal, guys getting hurt, and a product that is difficult to remember.
Just when GoDaddy turned away from using muted sexual references to sell, Motorola has jumped right in their spot by putting model, Megan Fox in a bathtub where considers how easily she could send hot pictures of herself across the Interwebs.
Too bad the ad misses building the sex appeal of both the product and the model, who ends up coming across as more a social media narcissist than a muse. My advice, differentiate the product, and show Megan Fox running her life on the device and being interested in men who do too.
4. Becks Sapphire: “Singing Fish”
So this is how Becks (also known as Anheuser-Busch) rolls out a new beer? Really?
So, Sapphire is darker than regular Becks, but why would a fish want darker beer? We’ve seen CGI fish characters for a decade, so the likely take away to viewers is that this beer is as equally unremarkable as this ad. Did the singing fish make anyone want beer?
My recommendation – animated beer characters are lame unless they’re both hip and retro. Play against the German heritage, by showing how people all over the world dig Sapphire with sports and the foods we enjoy when watching sports. Unless of course real humans hate the stuff….and if that’s the case, why not try a singing fish? ;>