30 January 2012


Number of Ads:  70
Average cost-per-ad:  $3.5 million

How do you gauge the 'best' Super Bowl ad?

You don't.

Great ads almost always target a very specific consumer- which means it's *not* talking to everybody else.  ('Everybody else'- not realizing this- often assumes an ad is bad- when its only crime may be that it isn't talking to them.  Remember what your parents said about your choice of music?  Same thing.)

In 1989, USA Today declared itself arbiter of the good/bad/ugly with its Super Bowl Ad Meter, which provided a popular next-day ranking of ads. 

What makes lists like this- (and the Oscars and most awards shows, for that matter) irresistible is that we measure our own preferences against those of the hive (the great collective, who generate all the buzz). 

For instance?  This Bud Lite spot was ranked #1 on last year's USA Today Ad Meter:

Fun spot.  But does it resonate nearly as much as VW's "Darth Vader"?

-or the Gold Standard for Super Bowl ads of the recent past- the 'Betty White' spot for Snickers?

So now it's not enough for advertisers to afford a Super Bowl ad.  Now, the true status symbol is to appear in USA Today's top 10.  And moreover, not to end up in the USA Today basement.  Finishing dead last among 2011 Super Bowl ads is this spot for Hyundai Elantra:  an appallingly-ordinary car ad (sadly, an epidemic in the big-spending automotive ad category), which even he dulcet tones of Jeff Bridges couldn't save:

Me?  Thanks for asking.  While I do have a soft spot for the Citizen Kane of Super Bowl ads- Ridley Scott's "1984"-

-it wouldn't be on my Desert Island reel- one of those ads I'd grab if I could only have a few to watch.  For overall 'umph'- for a big idea done right- for little moments you notice with each viewing- my hands-down all-time favourite Super Bowl ad is "Cat Herders" for EDS- created by Fallon of Minneapolis:

EDS TRIVIA:  Ross Perot (remember him?) founded EDS (Electronic Data Systems) in the 60's.  A couple of years back, Hewlett-Packard bought the company out for $13.9 billion.  With a 'B'.

That's more than I make in a month.   

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