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Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Ads: Amateurs Beat Out Madison Avenue

$3.5 million was the going rate to air a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl Sunday night. And Doritos was the big winner, according to USA Today’s Ad Meter, which rates the ads. The chip company had the top two ads, and they were both user-generated.

Here & Now media analyst John Carroll says engaging consumers to create the ads builds additional buzz for the advertising campaign. This year, Doritos ran three user-generated spots, earning the winners up to $1 million in prize money.

“Ad men on Madison Avenue have to be out on the ledge at this point, because those ads are as good as anything else on the Super Bowl,” Carroll said.

Doritos – Man’s Best Friend

Carroll said overall, he wasn’t impressed with this year’s batch of Super Bowl ads.

“I think Super Bowl advertisers have boxed themselves into this arms race,” Carroll said. “What happens is they are so overproduced and so complicated that it becomes the law of diminishing returns.”

Case in point: The Coca Cola polar bears. Viewers might not have realized it at the time, but the polar bears in the ads were reacting to the game. And, if you happened to go to the Coca Cola website, you would have been able to watch the polar bears, watching the Super Bowl in real time.

“I was watching the Super Bowl with some friends of mine, and they kept saying, Huh? What was that about?” Carroll said

Coca Cola – Polar Bears Watch The Game

In past years, Super Bowl ads would be a closely guarded secret for advertising firms until they aired. But this year, many of the ads were released before the game. It’s a way to pull people in through Facebook, Twitter and other social media efforts.

“The assumption is that people want to get that involved, and I’m not sure they do,” Carroll said.

There were some bright spots. Clint Eastwood starred in a 2-minute Chrysler spot, waxing on about the return of the American automotive industry that drew widespread praise. And then there was the Best Buy commercial that featured innovators who have made many of the features on our mobile phones possible.

Best Buy – Phone Innovators

Carroll said the Best Buy commercial was an idea spot, which is rare for the Super Bowl, because it’s hard for people to pay close attention while they’re watching the game.

“A rule of thumb is people need to understand your ad with the sound turned down. And what we saw was a tremendous number of visually-oriented ads that you didn’t need any narrative or dialogue with,” Carroll said.

H&M – David Beckham

Soccer superstar David Beckham’s H&M ad fit that bill. Beckham was clad in a pair of briefs (and layered in tattoos), but the question was: Who is he appealing to?

“Ads are aspirational. So maybe the guys are thinking, if I just get enough tattoos, maybe I’ll look like him,” Carroll quipped.

The Voice – Betty White

The ubiquitous Betty White also made an appearance in an NBC promo for its reality singing program, “The Voice.”

“One of the reasons why networks pay top dollar for the Super Bowl rights is to promote their shows,” Carroll said. “Fox got itself on the map by basically shelling out billions of dollars to broadcast the Super Bowl 10-12 years ago. So, I think that this is a platform, where you have 110 million viewers and you can go out and promote… your prime time offerings.”

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