Giants Win! Advertisers, Not So Much

OK, true confession. We don’t love football. In fact, pretty much the only football game either one of us has ever watched is the Super Bowl (unless you count Friday Night Lights). Now here’s a real shocker, even thought we both make TV commercials, we rarely watch them. Just like millions, we’ve invested in technology that allows us to fast forward – but once a year, we can’t wait to watch commercials!

Why do people get so excited about Super Bowl commercials?

Jill asked me this question just the other morning and Kris, a designer who works with us called in from the other room, “because they’re more creative.”   Aha! They are. If you want to excite people – creativity is key. But just because something’s creative doesn’t make it good, or worth the $3.5 million in air time a thirty second spot costs. Remember the gerbil that got shot out of a cannon? Uh huh? Do you remember what brand it was for? We don’t either.

We think the best commercials are entertaining, intelligent, relevant, and actually tell you (or even better sell you) the brand’s benefits.

Based on those criteria, here’s our take on some of the biggest winners and losers from super bowl 2012:

Hyundai Genesis Coop: A

Funny, unexpected, involving, original and shows off the car’s benefits beautifully. Great casting, too.


Chevy Camero Happy Grad:   A

Fun. Funny. Relevant. Hate to say it but they get away with people going berserk over their product in virtually every scene. Get this: Not done by an agency, but created by  Zach Borst, a 26-year-old filmmaker from Long Island.


Terrific example of a great (ongoing) ad campaign that has built the brand, these spots are amusing, attention getting can’t wait to see what they’ll do next. In this case, the line “Ya know, everything can cost upwards of…” line is brilliant That said the speed dating was a bit odd.

Hyundai Veloster: A-

Car’s too fast for the cheetah and the trainer isn’t fast enough?! We laughed out loud.

Budweiser Prohibition Ends! Lynn: A-/ Jill: C

Lynn: Beautiful production, product as hero, anthemic.
Jill: Just not that entertaining (By the way, Jill’s a beer, but never a Bud drinker).

sketchers: A-

Perfect for the audience. Who doesn’t love an ugly French bulldog in sneakers? A pithy exchange between him and a greyhound could have made it an A+.

DORITOS Dead Cat:   A-

A bit predictable and sophomoric but funny (Even to a cat lover).

Chevy Silverado: A –

We both like competitive tone, Jill likes the Twinkees, too. Made Thom Fleming (The Giants and Jill’s biggest fan) want to buy a Silverado – and he’s their market.


We love Ricky Gervais. And the special effects were cool. Never really think of TWC as bringing you everything from Facebook and Twitter to Showtime…

Fiat: B

Beautiful girl. Cute car. Dorky guy, amusing but wanted it to be better than it was.

Toyota Camry: Lynn: A-/Jill: B

Lynn: Beautifully told, simple story. Non-clichéd interesting images. Emotional and relevant because it’s “everyman’s” car.
Jill: Yes, good imagery, but not an A as I’ve seen it before.

Samsung: B+

Ridiculously over the top but it kind of what Super Bowl ads are supposed to be so it worked for us.

PEPSI Elton John: B

Universal concept, great production values, and the product is the hero. Using the winner of the X factor and a character from Glee along with Elton John and Flavor Flave appeals to all ages – (as does Pepsi.) Totally in keeping with the Pepsi brand but not as exciting as their spots used to be.

H&M David Beckham: B

Calvin’s been here before, but we can’t lie, we don’t mind looking at David Beckham, but not many of the men we know liked this spot.

BUDWEISER: B (Eternal Optimism/CULT “Eternal Optimism”)

Pepsi may have done something like this years ago but this was cool. Great music.

Dannon Greek Yogurt “The Tease”: B

Funny send up of the typical yogurt spot. “Possibly the best yogurt in the world” – possibly the most mediocre tag line we’ve ever heard.

Volkswagon: B-

Dog gets in better shape so it can chase a car that’s in better shape. Good strategy. Great dog. We like the premise, but when they pull back to reveal the Star Wars crowd watching this year’s spot at the bar, it’s too self referential. Who cares?

Audi: B-

Mildly amusing, but is anyone going to buy a car because of headlights? And are Twilight fans really your audience, Audi?

Bud Light: B-

Here we go – again. Great rescue dog but we’ve seen this spot for Budweiser, for Coors, for decades. Derivative, but at least they’re helping rescue dogs.

KIA Jill: B-/Lynn: D

This spot has all the right ingredients but it tries too hard and the recipe failed. Imagine what Gerry Graf would have done with it.

TaxAct: C

Totally Free? How ‘bout totally borrowed interest, but very cute kid. Wonder if people will remember or care.

Met Life: C+

Charming. Sweet message. So much unrealized potential.


Jerry Seinfeld is renowned for his collection of Porches, why is he doing this? There’s not a line in the spot that is as well written as his show was. (But he does elevate the material). We wanted to really laugh and we really wanted to like the spot, sorry, Jer.

Lexus The Beast: C-

Beastly weak. Great production value for absolutely nada.

“Masters of Style” Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler: C-

What a waste of talent and money. We love these actors. It would have been nice if someone had written something interesting and filmed something stylish.

Honda CRV (Matthew Broderick): C-

We’re not wild about Matt, and honestly this ad nearly put us to sleep. That said, we get the strategy: For middle-aged people (i.e. Ferris Bueller fans) the CRV is a fun car, so go out and live your life in it.

Hyundai “Anthem”: C

Huge cast, huge production dollars, all to let me know that the designers at Hyundai aren’t that creative. Guessed that by looking at the cars.

Go Daddy: F

BADVERTISING on every level. We hate these spots. Sex may sell, sexism doesn’t. And we want our cloud to be strong and reliable, NOT STUPID!

Toyota  Camry: F

What a waste of money. Completely borrowed interest. No product benefits. Bummer. (By the way an Ad Age Blogger loved this spot. That’s what makes horse races and Super Bowl Blogs.)

Spots too boring or expected to grade: Ford, BMW, GE, Budweiser Platinum, Breakstone, TelaFlora, Toyota’s Eli Manning, spot, and others.

Well, you know what they say about opinions – we hope you enjoyed ours. A few other random comments and observations: This year you could have called the Super Bowl the car bowl. Twenty-five percent of the Super Bowl commercials were for cars – what does that say about an industry that was in the toilet just 3 years ago? It could also have been called the been there done that bowl. Where was the breakthrough idea that we’d never seen before? Why are so many commercials SO AVERAGE when advertisers spend over a million on production and over three million dollars on thirty seconds? We’d like to suggest every advertiser have to pay 1 percent of what they spend on production (including talent and music licensing) and we’d like to see the NFL and NBC donate 1 percent of what they earn in air time to rotating charity, annually.

Related Topics: Elton John, Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Montauk, Super Bowl 2012, Super Bowl 2012 Commercials, and matthew broderick super bowl ad


  1. Thank you for this. I enjoyed the comments and agree with most. I flat out didn’t get the tax-spot at all. Does peeing in a pool equate to finding questionable deductions? Free to pee?

    Did I flip through your comment too quickly or was I the only one that didn’t like the Dodge spot with Clint Eastwood preaching about it being half-time in America? We live in strange times when its Emenem who made a better case last year. Made in Detroit.

  2. Thanks, Jon. We were sorely disappointed in Clint’s “morning in America” message – after reading the “Apple in China” headlines in the NYT all last month it seems America needs more than a cowboy and a good attitude to get back on track (how bout the elimination of super pacs for starters… hahaha.) Thanks for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. Not to belabor the point but all this brew ha ha around the Eastwood-Dodge spot can’t hurt Dodge. It highlights the fact that they’ve paid back the loan and are back into (or at least moving towards) profit. On the other hand its yet another example of the new republicans turning a left-wing, progressive talking point on its head. The bailout was designed to stave off an economic disaster from reckless corporate actions. Its success happens to be a good example of how the country needs protection from corporate special interest not the other way around as described. I will now get off the soap box and change the subject slightly. Did you guys see how the Tourist board of Aruba invited the entire LOSING team down for an all expense trip? Brilliant. A lovely attempt to trump the “Disneyworld for the quarterback trip” thats become a post-game institution.

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to top