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Oreo wins the Super Bowl ad fest

by Nigel Hollis | February 06, 2013

I guess my introduction to American football many years ago was ruined by what was later described as “a great defensive game.” As far as I could see, nothing much happened for the game’s duration. My lack of interest in football means that I still have no idea why anyone watches the Super Bowl. Why endure all that boring football to watch the TV commercials? These days you don’t even have to wait until after the event to watch them.

I have to admit that most of this year’s offerings left me feeling the same way about the ads as I do about football. Stuart Elliott, in writing in the New York Times, suggests most of the ads were “disappointing.” I think “lame” might be closer to the mark. The Super Bowl offers one of the few mass reach TV events of the year, and most advertisers squandered the opportunity on superficial sight gags and inconsequential stories.

Now, I have to admit that my favorite ad was hardly a major step up the rest, but at least it made me laugh. Oreo’s spot, which portrayed a whispered discussion in a library that got out of hand, was at least amusing and focused on the product. In addition to demonstrating command of the TV commercial genre, Oreo also managed to demonstrate command of social media with its tweet “Power out? No Problem.” The image of a single Oreo and the line “You can still dunk in the dark” was nicely done given the time constraints. The centenarian brand is still alive and very much part of popular culture as recognized by its place on the cover of this week’s Adweek cover under the title, “Brands With Bite.”

The Mercedes CLA ad was another one I liked. Again, the car is the lynch pin of the commercial and, as Elliott notes in his review, the punch line centered on the car’s sticker price. Now, I personally would not have used the Super Bowl to highlight the car’s low price. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I remember a time when a Mercedes was something you would sell your soul for (well some people anyway). The price tag seemed to lower Mercedes’ standing as it made it clear the brand was accessible to those with modest budgets. 

But the ad that was most on message and meaningfully different, came from Coca-Cola. Not the silly desert chase one, but the one showing random acts of kindness captured by security cameras around the world. Yes, I’ve seen it before but it is worth watching again. Nice one, Coke. 

You can see the emotional reaction others had when they watched the Super Bowl ads here, where we've used our Facial Coding technology to gather their reactions.

So that’s my take on the Super Bowl ads. What’s yours? Please share your thoughts.  


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  1. Justin P, February 11, 2013
    I agree, Oreo produced one of the better commercials this year. Overall the commercials weren't that entertaining, and the blackout only worsened the event. I wasn't too satisfied with this superbowl, although I felt they did a great job at keeping the show going and having stuff to talk about during the blackout.
  2. Nigel, February 08, 2013
    Interesting how Oreo's stole the limelight for its blackout tweet. The Tide tweet seems more appropriate: "We can't get your blackout. But we can get your stains out." Kudos to Oreo's for being first but Tide wins on relevance?
  3. Ed C, February 06, 2013
    Agree. Going with MB principles, most could have been for anything, few were enjoyable, even less made me consider buying their brand. Some were engaging while not necessarily distinct; though I'm not sure if I would have even given them that compliment if they were presented during normal TV programming.

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