The 2nd Annual Big Gamey’s: My Awards for Super Bowl Commercials. Again.

big_gameyWelcome back to the Big Gameys – where the awards are made up and the points don’t matter. For the 2nd year of my awards, I’ve got some repeat categories mixed in with some new ones. Let’s do this.

Oreo Lights Out Award: Totino’s Live Tweeting the Super Bowl…a Day Early

The real time social media engagement inaugurated by this award’s namesake is now common place. It’s harder to have that breakthrough tweet, vine, snap with everyone doing it now (link to monster). So Totino’s delivered their realtime campaign before anyone else could, on the day before the game. The ridiculously #sparts mocking campaign was pretty clever, my only knock was that (gross generalization warning) mostly sports mind males eat Totino’s products, so coming across as not knowing football seems a little off brand. But still, it was unique.

Runner Up: Monster “Congratulations Seattle!

What the Heck Just Happened? Award: Nationwide “Make Safe Happen”

So much has been said already about where they went astray. It wasn’t the message, it was the messenger. We can debate how altruistic Nationwide’s intentions where (Hint: this backlash didn’t surprise them). What they could have done was made a PSA that was a little less sales pitchy or even a little less morbid. Adding a tagline to dead kids is just bad.

Runners Up: Loctite “#WinAtGlue

Troll Award: Chevy “Blackout”

Some may have missed it as it aired right before kickoff, but this was one of the rare ones that tried to sell something – Wi-Fi in a truck. So in a way it is a troll on two counts. Actually trying to sell something during the Super Bowl and making people think their cable just went our right before the game. It was timely, clever and tried to sell me something.

Runner Up: Budweiser bidding other brands keywords on twitter

Bourne Identity Crisis Award: Nationwide

They went from Mindy Kaling being invisible to that dead kid one. It doesn’t get much more polar opposite than that. The Mindy commercial was ok, but was completely overshadowed by the dead kid one.  Mindy’s ad hence became a waste which is unfortunate because it was the only one that delivered the brand message.

The Budweiser Puppy Overrated Award: Budweiser “Lost Dog”

The Budweiser puppy wins 2nd year in a row – first repeat award so I named it after him/her.  The cute, cuddly canine wins this year for the same reasons as last, so I’ll just copy what I said last year:

“I know why people like this commercial – the warm fuzzies. I get that Budweiser was telling a ‘buds’ story utilizing their iconic Clydesdales. But the horse took a back seat to the dog (as cute as it may have been). The ad is receiving attention for reasons other than the product or the brand. In contrast, last year’s [2013] ad featuring the Clydesdale and its trainer told a similar story, but with more brand-centric warm fuzzies.”

Tried Too Hard to be Cool Award: Nissan “With Dad”

Cool this year were emotions and dads. Nissan went heavy on both and whiffed. The commercial had a breakneck pace which made the story hard to get. Only thing help me grasp the story was the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” playing in the background- which as several have pointed out, may not have been the best choice.

Runner Up: Toyota

Newcastle Best Campaign by a Non-Super Bowl Advertiser Award: Newcastle “Band of Brands”

Once again this award’s namesake created an elaborate marketing campaign around the Super Bowl without being an official advertiser. Last year’s target was the hype and epic quality of Super Bowl ads. This year, the target was more specific – Doritos popular “Crash the Super Bowl” ad crowdsourcing campaign. For the “Band of Brands,” the beer brand used Aubrey Plaza to pitch the idea of several brands pulling their money to create an ad with all of them in it. A total of 37 took Newcastle up on their offer. The idea and Plaza both fit Newcastle’s “No Bollucks” brand. See the whole campaign at www.newcastlebandofbrands.com.

Runners up: Totino’s

Best Laugh Award: Snickers “The Brady Bunch”

Not as many to choose from this year’s somber bowl. Snickers took their popular “you’re not you when you’re hungry” ads up a notch with Danny Trejo as Marsha Brady. It was weird, but probably accurate. They then topped it off with a Steve Buscemi as Jan zinger.

Runner up: Fiat “Blue Pill

Haters Gonna Hate Award: GoDaddy “Working”

GoDaddy had to scramble after its original ad had been pulled, and as many critics pointed out, it showed. In a vacuum, it’s a great ad. It empathizes with a key target audience – those small business owners, working when others are partying. While it was a little underwhelming for the spectacle of the Super Bowl, it is still a great ad.

Best Rip-off of Another Super Bowl Advertiser Award:  Esurance

I liked the concept even though Snickers sorta has done the same thing for awhile now and did it in the Super Bowl. In a vacuum, it’s a great concept that makes a more logical point than the original. It also had pretty good star power. Sorta like Snickers.

Lost in Translation Award: Toyota

It’s hard to translate incredible feats of determined amputees to a car brand. Sorry, can’t do it. The people are inspirational. The shiny new Camry that they drive is not.

Warm Fuzzies Award: Always “Like a Girl”

Unusually large crop of ads this year that made you feel all kinds of feels. Dads. Puppies. Overcoming disabilities. Dead kids. As a dad of a daughter, “Like a Girl” takes the cake. Sure I’m biased, but everyone has different emotional triggers (puppy’s just don’t do it for me). The message is powerfully delivered and made me a little uncomfortable in a good way. Despite my feelings, it still falls into the doesn’t-really-sell-anything trap, but the cause is a natural fit (I don’t think you can get a much more feminine brand).

Best of Show: Mophie “All-Powerless”

It didn’t really strike me at first, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it. I had never heard of the brand before, so that helped its cause here. It captures that feeling – as trivial as it may seem – that everyone gets when their phone dies. THE WORLD IS ENDING. It then introduces its product as a solution to a problem, which as I have said before, is a rarity in the Super Bowl.

Like I said before, my Super Bowl viewing was limited so tell me what I missed.

Why Kmart’s Potty Humor Worked

Kmart’s “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” were internet sensations for the nearly forgotten discount department store. The junior-high humor certainly made us all giggle, but what made these videos such a hit?

A big creative idea? Close.

It was disruptive? Certainly, but not what we are looking for.

The answer: execution.

With juvenile humor like this, there is a fine line between making people giggle or making them groan. The script was crisp. The actors delivered their lines believable and with perfect annunciation.

These videos may have still gotten same traction and the laughs just on the idea alone, because, admit it, poop jokes are just funny. However, because of the level of polish on the final peace, people were felt safe sharing the videos. They were clean dirty jokes.

Watch them again, and see if you agree.

Using YouTube as a Test Lab for Commercials

I’m probably not the first, but I’ve noticed two recent examples of brands converting successful online videos into television commercials.

Pepsi Max had a disguised Jeff Gordon take an unsuspecting car salesman on the ride of his life. That video has over 35 million views and a few days ago, I saw a pared down version as a television commercial.The other is Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” video, which after becoming a viral success, the company announced it would begin airing the ad on television. (Both can be viewed in a few paragraphs. Keep reading.)

What’s interesting is the potential here for testing television commercials on YouTube. Before, the commercial came first then went to YouTube, except for recent Super Bowl “leaks.”

In Kmart’s case, what if the plan all along was test the reaction of a risque play on words. Compared to a more traditional television audience, the internet is more appropriate audience because they almost expect this type of content in that space. Reading through comments on the video, blog posts about the video and monitoring other social channels, Kmart could determine if it was safe to place on television or let it have its 15 seconds of internet fame and move on.

Instead of testing in front of a sample audience, YouTube gives advertisers the entire world as a test bed. Reading comments on the video itself and postings on social channels will allow for feedback that can be measured. You could argue that results are more organic as the audience doesn’t know it’s a test.

On the flip side, if it has been seen millions of times on the internet before it hits television airwaves will it have the same impact. What do you think?

Microsoft is Self-Aware in IE10 Ad

I love it when brands are honest with themselves. In this video, Microsoft acknowledges that it’s Internet Explorer has it’s share of haters. Instead of completely ignoring this or fighting back, they embraced it and still kinda stuck it to them in the end.

For all I know, the new IE could still suck (I use Chrome as newer versions of IE aren’t available for my XP machine). However, this type of self-awareness makes their message a bit more credible. By not operating in a vacuum and acknowledging the anti-IE crowd, they have disarmed the angry mob somewhat.

Maybe it’s not Hulu’s Fault

So NBC, Fox and Disney want to pull their content from Hulu.

I get it. Hulu is taking valuable web traffic away from NBC, Fox and Disney. So to make sure they are getting the most out of their web experiences, they want to pack up their content and go home.

But…

Did they consider why viewers are going to Hulu rather than their respective sites? Probably not. So I will.

I believe that you should make it as easy as possible for your customers or fans to get what they want. Ease of use or access is an important piece of the brand experience. Regardless of how awesome the food is, terrible service can sink a restaurant.

Hulu is an entertainment hub. One site where a person can easily track and watch their favorite shows regardless of the network that broadcasts them. It’s simple to navigate, and other than a few commercials, promotion free. Why go to multiple, promotion-laden sites to just watch the shows? I don’t care about the next episode of “The Cape” or deleted scenes from “The Office,” I just want to get to the episode of “Chuck” that I missed.

Networks could be mistaking what brand their viewers are loyal to. I have yet to hear anyone talk about the great NBC line up last night. However, I do hear people ask, “did you see ‘The Office’ last night?”

Pulling content from Hulu will not doom these networks or their shows loyal fans. Hulu is just one channel, but it does have a following of their loyal fans. It’s just something to consider.