Super Bowl Retrospecticus: Master Lock Makes Its Mark In One Second

After Sunday’s championship games, Super Bowl 50 is set. It’ll be the Carolina Panthers taking on the Denver Broncos, in case you haven’t been paying attention. And now, we wait. In the meantime, I’ll be writing about some Super Bowl ads of the past and previewing some spots that’ll be coming. Because after all, the Super Bowl might be the only place where people are more likely to go to the bathroom or talk during the game rather than the commercials. And of course, there’s the false but enduring urban legend about bathroom usage during halftime.

Master Lock isn’t really a company you think would advertising on the Super Bowl. They aren’t huge, and a bit boring (but oh so functional) as a consumer product. But they used to have Super Bowl commercials all the time. How did they afford it? Well, Master Lock would spend its entire advertising budget on this one spot. In 1974, Master Lock introduced a commercial in which a lock was fired on by a sharpshooter. It survived. This first “Tough Under Fire” ad is often ranked as one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. It was so successful that Master Lock would continue running similar ads for years. All of this culminated with 1998’s commercial. By that time, Super Bowl advertising costs had ballooned, so Master Lock introduced a one second ad (apparently these are called blipverts). If you were paying attention, it was probably effective as hell at a fraction of the cost.

The 3 Suckiest Super Bowl Commercials That Ever Sucked This Year

#3 Bud Light Platinum “Factory”

Is anyone going to buy Bud Light Platinum? It seems like a silly gimmick, but it does have more alcohol than regular Bud Light and that bottle is rather dapper. So the answer is a firm “maybe.” Anyway, this commercial is so incredibly dull.

#2 Pepsi Max “Checkout”

I feel like I’ve seen this one so many times before. Only now, it’s got Regis! Yeah…lame.

#1 Go Daddy “Body Paint”

Here’s the Wikipedia entry for self-fulfilling prophecy. Go Daddy always has the worst Super Bowl commercials, so we expected more of the same. And shockingly, they sucked. Really, I think Go Daddy could somehow make a great commercial and people still wouldn’t like it based on previous experiences.

Dishonorable mention: Most of the commercials being online well before the Super Bowl. I know social media is important, but there’s a certain magic to seeing a brand new commercial for the first time during the Super Bowl and saying “now THAT’S brilliant.” When commercials are online for a whole week, it really lessens that experience.

My Top 4 Super Bowl Commercials

The Super Bowl is the biggest night in advertising, but it can also feel hollow. This year, rates started at $3.5 million for a 30 second spot. So really, a lot of it feels like going to a bar and just seeing dudes throwing around money. The ads are mostly just for show….I don’t think anybody is going to buy a car or discover “Doe-ree-toes” simply based on a commercial. And at $3.5 million+ per ad, any corporation who would skip the Super Bowl and instead HIRE NEW WORKERS would get infinitely better PR. Alright. Now that I’ve gone on my mini-rant, here’s my pick for top 4 Super Bowl commercials.

#4  Doritos “Man’s Best Friend”

I had to pick from a number of spots for the #4 position and this came out on top. I originally had picked the other Doritos spot (“Sling Baby”), but after after thinking about it, “Man’s Best Friend” is wittier and less predictable.

#3 M&M’s “Just My Shell”

Cute and unexpected. A crowd-pleaser. The brown M&M was voiced by Vanessa Williams, and the song is LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It”.

#2 Kia Optima’s “A Dream Car. For Real Life.”

Hugely entertaining and over-the-top. At first, it seems like a typical male fantasy but it becomes surprisingly sweet with a great twist ending.

#1 Budweiser’s “Return of the King”

As a former history major and a fan of period pieces, I loved this commercial. The artistic direction is beautiful, music from The Natural works well, and it only has two words in it (and a lot of cheering). I know the beer snobs are gonna snark “Budweiser? They got that excited about crappy Budweiser?” Shut the hell up. If you had to drink disgusting bathtub gin for 13 years, you’d be ELATED for beer, Budweiser or otherwise. And it’s true. Anheuser-Busch was one of the few American breweries to survive Prohibition, and they sent a case to the White House (delivered by Clydesdales) right after repeal.

Some other notable commercials:

Chrysler’s/Clint Eastwood’s “It’s Halftime in America”

Probably the most discussed/publicized Super Bowl commercial this year. It’s been getting a lot of political implications…some are calling it the best Obama re-election commercial that will be made. This one was a big hit with advertising experts. I had mixed feelings about it. The copy is quite well-written and fairly inspiring. But to me, it was a little draggy and boring. I know Clint Eastwood is a legend and his voice leads gravitas to the commercial, but I feel like at varying points he sounds like he’s going to (1) die, or (2) yell at me to get off his lawn. Chrysler’s Eminem spot was my favorite of last Super Bowl and this is of a similar vein. It’s something I SHOULD like, but just turned out OK in my eyes. And this is a 2 minute spot starring Clint Eastwood. It must have cost an incredible amount of money. Remember what I said in the beginning of this post, about how money might be better used by HIRING WORKERS? That severely diminishes the message for me.

Bud Light’s “Rescue Dog”

Not incredibly original. But it’s cute and does have a nice message supporting rescue dogs.

Samsung’s “Thing Called Love”

I really liked the first spot of this Samsung campaign. But they kept going with it, and the campaign felt stale pretty quickly. Yes, we know that people who stand in line for consumer products are losers and the Apple cult people are really annoying. So I was surprised by this one. Using a song that was semi-popular like 9 years ago (albeit, one I’ve always liked) is a little odd. It turns into a lot of fun, though. I don’t think it’s an amazing advertisement, but one that I really enjoyed watching. Looks like a great party. And a Brian Urlacher cameo!

Some First Half Thoughts

Commercials have been pretty mediocre so far. The best ones are usually in the 3rd quarter.

The new Pizza Hut song is way less annoying than the old one. It’s also way less catchy.

Go Daddy is such a waste. Every year.

I wouldn’t shop at H&M anyway, but now that I had to watch David Beckham in his underwear, I really won’t shop there. But I guess a lot of women weren’t thrilled about Adriana Lima either.

It’s a bad idea to use your baby as a slingshot, but the Doritos Crash The Super Bowl spot was funny. The one with the dog was witty too.

Bud Light Platinum is such a stupid idea. But Budweiser also has my favorite commercial so far. It appeals to the drinker in me, the history buff in me, and the part of me that loves The Natural.

Super Bowl Retrospecticus: Michael Jordan And Larry Bird Play H-O-R-S-E For McDonald’s

The original Dream Team is likely the greatest team that will ever play in any sport. Two of the biggest stars of that team, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, also teamed up for one of the most popular commercials in Super Bowl history. It involves Larry challenging Michael to a rather extreme game of H-O-R-S-E for his Big Mac lunch.

McDonald’s did a remake for Super Bowl XLIV, featuring LeBron James and Dwight Howard. But it just wasn’t as good. And I’m fairly certain both of them know who Larry Bird is.

Super Bowl Retrospecticus: Reebok’s Terry Tate

Writing about the Terry Crews/Old Spice ads today reminded me of a classic Super Bowl commercial: Reebok’s Terry Tate. You can definitely see similarities. Then I remembered that I had written about Terry Tate early-ish in the life of this blog. So here’s the post I wrote, originally on June 20.

Today, AdFreak compiled a list of the 10 funniest commercials of all time. #4 on the list was Reebok’s hilarious Terry Tate: Office Linebacker. Despite only being shown on national TV once (during Super Bowl XXXVII), Terry Tate was turned into a series of online videos that became a huge hit before YouTube. Here are some highlights.

Although these spots were comedic gold, there was some criticism regarding the connection to Reebok. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, only 55 percent of respondents knew that it was a Reebok ad, far below the desired result. Still, for those of us who appreciate advertising for the amusing factor, Terry Tate is a Hall of Fame player. Besides, what workplace couldn’t use an Office Linebacker?

Super Bowl Retrospecticus: Google’s “Parisian Love”

The Super Bowl is one of the few televised events that cuts across demographic boundaries. Unlike other sporting events whose television ratings largely depend on star/market power, the Super Bowl always gets a huge audience regardless of the teams involved. So it’s not a surprise that it’s the biggest (and most expensive) night of the year for advertising. With that in mind, I introduce the Super Bowl Retrospecticus, where I discuss notable commercials of Super Bowls past. I’m limiting this only to ads I actually remember.

Google was long known as a company who did not advertise. In 2010, they aired their first national commercial, “Parisian Love”, during Super Bowl XLIV.

“Parisian Love” was actually created months before the Super Bowl as part of Google’s “Search Stories”. These involved the intriguing, yet extremely simple concept that people search for things of current relevance to them, and when put together in linear fashion, the search terms tell a story. In the case of “Parisian Love”, it was the tale of a romance starting in Paris. The unseen guy is charming…he misspells Louvre, wants to find out about truffles and Truffaut, and searches for advice to cope with a long-distance relationship. Soft and inviting music plays throughout. We discover that the couple ends up getting married and the final search “how to assemble a crib” puts a heartwarming end to the story (with a baby’s giggle). Elegant, romantic, and beautiful, it was a hit which ranked #4 in ADBOWL 2010.

The success of “Parisian Love” led to Google stepping up its advertising. And Google has done a great job. There was a similarly heartwarming Search Story called “Graduation”. Last year’s “Dear Sophie” was a huge online hit for Google Chrome. The Muppets did a Google+ commercial, and who doesn’t love the Muppets? And I just saw the seriously inspiring “Make It Happen” spot. This is just a small sampling of Google’s awesome commercials/videos, and I’m looking forward to what they’ll have for the Super Bowl.

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