Originality and Creativity Missing From This Year’s Super Bowl Lineup

So which Super Bowl ad was your favorite?   (If you ‘tweet,’ check this out: Super Bowl Map)

I don’t know about you, but my Super Bowl has nothing to do with grown men running around a field trying to catch a leather-wrapped ball. The ‘Big Game’ for me is the commercials! I love them.  All of them. Even the bad ones (they give us agency folks an incredible laugh while we wonder what agency talked their client into wasting $3M of hard earned cash on either an ineffective or unmemorable ad).  

So, although I did get a chuckle out of quite a few of the ads, none really moved me to truly laugh, cry or to go out and buy… Here are my sort-of-close-to-the-top picks for overall effectiveness based on the ‘M’ factor:

Was it Memorable? Did it Move viewers to take action or Move brand awareness? And lastly, was it Meaningful to the brand? Here are my picks for the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY (and I’d love to hear yours):


Bridgestone: Although not as good as last year’s (click on screaming squirrel below), I thought the “Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head”  ad was cute, clever and original (which seemed to be lost on most advertisers this year). I think every couple could relate to the dialog and the ad tied back to the product by having them in a sports car navigating sharp corners with ease.  Didn’t have me doubled over in laughter, but a solid performance. Ditto for their “Space Travelers” ad.

Budweiser: Gave us what we expect and enjoy.  A nostalgic, feel-good campaign that reminds us that Budweiser is truly a part of the American fabric; yes, like apple pie and baseball. And although I didn’t shed a  tear, “Daisy the Circus” horse did tug on my heart strings, a little.  Bud Light came through on its first ad (the guy who gets thrown out of the conference room window) but faltered after that.


GoDaddy: When GoDaddy launched at the Super Bowl in 2005, its brand went from unknown to nationally known over night. It was a brilliant marketing strategy and its efforts paid off in both Web traffic and marketshare. However, four years later, the creative concept has been played. It’s old. It’s tired. And it’s no longer original. The addition of celebrity Danica Patrick probably added more to the cost than marketshare.

Cheetos: I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh or grab my child and run.  Chester was creepy, really creepy,  “yeeaaassss…” Nothing about that commercial made me we want to eat Cheetos.  It was dark and simply not that funny.  The overall message: if you do buy Cheetos, just remember it makes great bird food, just lookout for the ‘droppings.’   

CareerBuilder: There are no words…


Jack In The box: Nothing about the cracked Jack head made me want to run over to JIB and get a burger dripping with ketchup.  Yeah, didn’t get it.  I figured I’d get it after the big payoff from the next commercial. But the next commercial never came. So I decided to do what they asked me to: I want to ‘hangintherejack.com’ to get the big laugh. Well, again, it wasn’t funny. So then I thought I’d follow his Twitter to get the real scoop.  Nope, that wasn’t very funny or interesting either. I liked the attempt at the social media tie-in, but next time, give me something worth following.

Hyundai: Paid $3M to tell viewers their name is pronounced ‘hun-day’ like ‘Sunday,’ and yet, no matter how I pronounce it, I’m still not buying their car. To there credit, though, I did find their financing message interesting and of course timely.

Doritos: I know this was ranked number one by USA Today, but really? The guy gets hit in the #%$’s and we all laugh like we’ve never seen that before?  Granted, I did chuckle, but from a strategic marketing standpoint, the ad lacked creativity and originality. So was it good? It was okay. Was it great? No.

To view all of the ads, visit Hulu.

For live commentary, click ?cid=6, then type in Merlot Marketing in the Search box.

Merlot critiques Super Bowl ads.

Merlot Marketing tapped by #1 rated morning show to critique Super Bowl ads.

  1. Josh Morgan
    February 4, 2009

    Great post Debi and congratulations on being on 31 to discuss the ads. Like you, I was underwhelmed this year, but at least we had a good game to distract us.
    Two notes:
    1) How long will Budwesier be able to continue to market Americana and the spirit of the heartland when they are now owned by a company based in Belgium?
    2) For me, the key ad was Hulu. They successfully played off a fictional character while still being funny and demonstrating what they do, unlike the "MacGruber" Pepsi ad which was just painful.

  2. Josh Morgan
    February 4, 2009

    One other note - "most bang for the buck award," has to go to Denny's. The follow-on media coverage was incredible. And honestly, when was the last time Denny's was on the news, and it didn't involve a nasty lawsuit?

  3. debi
    March 5, 2009


    I couldn't agree more with your two notes. Budweiser may have a challenge ahead and MacGruber, yeah, there really are no words...

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