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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Super Bowl Car Ads Not Firing On All Cylinders


Super Bowl Car Ads Not Firing On All Cylinders

Posted on February 8, 2011 and read 3,034 times

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roger baldacci Super Bowl Car Ads Not Firing On All Cylinders Roger Baldacci
EVP, Executive Creative Director
Arnold Worldwide

There’s nothing like a few car ads to add emotional equilibrium to the over-hyped, over-produced, over-analyzed advertising circus that brought us test babies, Joan Rivers with a body transplant and a cross-dressing burly man. Oh, and lest we forget talking and/or performing animals. What would a Super Bowl be without talking animals? It would be wonderful, that’s what it would be.

At least the auto industry is trying, I’ll give them that. This year, nine auto brands shelled out big bucks to reach the 200 million audience—that’s up from just five brands two years ago. For the first time, Mercedes advertised on the Super Bowl and BMW returned after a decade long absence. And Chrysler/Detroit Tourism Board came out blasting with an epic manifesto for the new Chrysler 200 featuring 8-Mile’s own Eminem. Speaking of epic, Kia spent roughly the gross national product of South Korea in CG work to tout their new Optima. Only in the Super Bowl would you use the words “Kia” and “epic” in the same sentence.

But was it all worth it? While a car is a big-ticket item, we buy them based almost solely on emotions because they represent an extension of who we are. So did any of them move the emotional needle? For the most part, they fell as flat as the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. We may as well start with the clunkers.

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Maybe BMW should ride the pine for another ten years. A bunch of autoworkers talking about how the BMW X3 is made right here in the Good Ole’ U.S. of A? I wonder if the X3 comes with that system that detects when you’re nodding off. And BMW makes a cleaner diesel if you hadn’t heard. I wish BMW would ch..ch..change back to doing performance spots and action films from years ago.

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While we’re on BMW, let’s talk about the Mini’s “Cram it in The Boot” game show. When the entire spot is based around a word play and you can almost script how it was concepted, you know you’re in trouble. Example:

Writer: “So we’re supposed to talk about how much stuff you can cram in the back of this thing.”

AD: “Yeah. You know in London, they don’t call it a trunk, they call it a boot. They also like to drink warm beer…

Writer: “Wait, what did you just say?!”

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Mercedes stalled for me as well. A bunch of historic Mercedes sneak out and drive themselves under the cover of darkness to the Benz factory so they can see the “new family.” It was beautifully shot and edited but it didn’t tell me anything new, nor did it pique my interest in seeing the new models. And it seemed like half way through production, they inked the deal with P. Diddy, so they had to throw him in there.

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Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Maybe I’m still under the spell of hypnosis, but the Hyundai Elantra spots confused me. In the first one, we are told we may have been “hypnotized to believe compact cars are good enough.” Yet in the second one, Jeff Bridges is now actively hypnotizing me, placing the suggestion that “compact cars don’t have to be boring.” I wish I could just snap out of it.

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Then for the Chevy Cruze Eco, they decide to make fun of old people. I wonder how many emails they got from AARP so far. Look, if you’re going to make fun of old people, at least have a purpose to it. Maybe I’m still hypnotized by Jeff Bridges, but near as I can tell, the spot tells you the Eco gets 40 mpg upfront (image of clients high fiving one another), and then it’s one hilarious misunderstanding of the voice over copy after another.

But thankfully, there were some standouts.

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The VW Passat featuring a young Darth Vader was simple and cute. Great, now I’ve said “Kia” and “epic” as well as “Darth Vader” and cute” in the same sentence. I hope they go back and do a prequel.

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I loved the Chevy Camaro Transformers sponsorship spot. Usually movie tie-ins are dreadful with characters or clips crudely forced into them. Yet this was a brilliant send up of cheesy dealer ads, with a flawless integration of the film as well as stellar production values. I laughed and watched it again and again.

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Lastly, I liked the Chrysler 200 short film with Eminem. It was beautifully directed and edited. While I’m sure it was a brand essence video the agency turned into a spot, I liked the honesty of it. This is the Motor City. And this is what we do. In the end, I found myself rooting for Detroit and Chrysler. I hope both recover after spending an unprecedented two minutes of air time plus paying Slim Shady a million bucks. One minor issue—there wasn’t one take where Eminem wasn’t blinking so much?

It’s great to see the car companies roaring back, especially the American manufacturers. So if you want consumers to buy your product, then make sure your spot is simple and born from a smart strategy and keen insight.

If you want consumers to rate your spots higher on the Super Bowl meter, then be sure to use a talking animal. Preferably a non-threatening, cute one.

Roger Baldacci is EVP, Executive Creative Director of Arnold Worldwide in Boston, where he has worked for nine years. Prior to joining Arnold, Roger worked at Fallon in Minneapolis. Throughout his career, Roger has produced an extensive body of award-winning work that has helped shape brands for clients that include BMW, Miller Lite, Timberland, Nikon, Converse and VW.






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