I've been writing this post in my head since last night, but I'm still not sure I got it, but sometimes it's more important to dive in than to dither in your thoughts. I started with the positive, here's what I liked last night:
Dot.coms are dead, long live the car ads. Car companies dominated the buys last night.
I thought the ads were pretty "eh", there were some good ones, but nothing that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Consumer brands not afraid to go negative... Chevy, Samsung, Pepsi all had negative ads up.
Probably the ad that people either loved or hated was "Halftime in America," the Chrysler ad narrated by Clint Eastwood. I loved it. Yes, it was derivative of last year's ad with Eminen. Yes, it was too long and sometimes too overwrought. Of all the ads tonight, this was the one that I had a visceral reaction to. I watched the game with my wife (who is a blast to watch football with, each play elicited a shriek or gasp of concern), despite backtracking this morning, immediately after the ad she turned to me and said, "That makes me want to buy an American car" -- isn't that the point?
Look, you can break this ad down in a lot of ways, but at the end of the day, I loved it because it was on-emotion and it connected with me at that level -- and hell, I'm probably not even the target audience. Some called it the best political ad of 2012, as it harkens back to "Morning in America," it acknowledges the best in us and speaks to American pride and spirit. Chrysler = Detroit = America. And really is there any voice more soulful than Clint Eastwood.
An interesting entry from Hyundai. I really liked this ad as well (this was my wife's favorite). Not as great as the Chrysler ad, but I thought it was an interesting framing for a company that people don't really have a story for. I've never thought much about Hyundai as car company, but the idea that "they try harder," that they're in it together, that they keep working through problems is a great identity for any company.
My problem with an ad like this is, will people accept it? I have no reason not to accept it, but just because they say it doesn't make it true. What's the proof? I wish Hyundai would follow up with more ads along these lines, show me ways that the company has overcome problems, instead they followed up with this ad:
Funny and clever yes. On message and on-emotion..., not so much. How does this ad fit in with Hyundai's message in the Rocky ad? It doesn't seem to. Maybe it works as a way to get people to remember to Hyundai, but I didn't even remember who this ad was for until I went back and looked. I laughed at this ad, it was good entertainment, but not a great ad. In a way, this ad is a good representation of the ads last night, some nice entertainment, but nothing that was a great ad.
The Best ad that didn't run in the US
I already talked about this ad. But thinking more about it, it reminded me of the old Bud slogan, "This Bud's for you." Bud was the drink for the everyman, for the unrecognized heroes out there, who do their jobs in quiet dignity. This ad harkens back to that tradition, and I think it would translate to America, it's a shame Bud wasted their time with ads about Prohibition and partying through the ads, rather than this ad which is far more effective.
Ads my Kids like
Asher really liked this Coke ad.
It was funny, the polar bears are iconic coke messengers, but like a lot of ads tonight I think the humor gets in the way of emotion. It's funny, but not sure it's really about Coke.
Owen's favorite ad was the much anticipated Volkswagen "Dog" ad:
It was a funny ad, and while the epilogue was random, it made for a nice connection with last year's ad. I liked the genre busting that I saw in car ads last night, this ad led the way putting a story of desire for the car ahead of the attributes of the car. It was funny and clever, but at the end of the day, it didn't make me like volkswagen any more than I had before watching the ad. I guess I agree with the guy in the bar, I liked the authenticity of the Vadar kid better.
Ads that people I respect liked
Really it was just this ad from Fiat. A couple of people who I really respect told me this was the best ad of the night, while I respect them..., they're wrong...
I think this is a good ad -- provocative and interesting. It tells a little story and is surprising, all good things. But I feel like the scope of the ad, the emotion it's trying connect with (desire) is just not that big, it's low hanging fruit. Compare the emotion of the Chrysler ad to this one, and this one feels small in comparison. Still it's well executed and crisp, and does a great job of being on-emotion.