02 February 2012

To Hollywood in a hand-cart: 2012 Super Bowl Ad preview

Like feature films, Super Bowl Ads have become events: with pre-hype, release announcements, making-of videos, extended versions, and sneak previews.

And now, sequels.  This is VW's followup to its hugely successful "Darth Vader" spot from the 2011 Super Bowl:

The secret?  It resist the temptation to be too big.  I remember a high school friend showing me how to run a mile; she taught me to simply ease up my pace.  The mile went by effortlessly.  Same thing here:  the funny moments aren't played for belly laughs.  The Rocky-type training montage is neither fast nor steep.  Even the payoff sequence at the end is slightly underplayed.

Likewise last year's utterly charming Darth Vader spot.  Its ease and humanity was a big part of its charm:  it stuck to an easy pace, and didn't get caught in the pressure of begin a Super Bowl spot.

Advertisers measure the number of exposures their ads get: what they can't measure is even more important- the quality of the impression.  The emotional connection.  Did the ad win a place of honour in the viewer's memory- and imagination?

A shrewd, fun spot, if not a courageous one.  It'll please its audience, but it didn't take the risk to rank it among Super Bowl Ad Giants.

Speaking of coattails...
So iconic are great Super Bowl ads that they can now beget their own parodies:  here's a Procter & Gamble homage to the legendary Coke Super Bowl 'Mean Joe Green' spot.  Mr. Greene reprises his role as... well... Mean Joe.  Comedian Amy Sedaris plays the kid.

Again, fun, but it feels too safe to dwell among the giants (no double-entendre intended) of Super Bowl ads, which took enormous creative risks.

The P&G press release for the ad includes this unintentionally-hilarious quote from Mr. Greene:

“When Downy approached me about recreating Coca Cola’s Super Bowl commercial from 1980, it didn’t take much to convince me,” Greene, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987, said in a statement. “I loved the idea of allowing fans to re-live such a classic television moment in a completely new and entertaining way.”
Yikes.  Junior P/R weenie passes off clumsily written Press Release copy as a quote from Hall of Fame Defensive Tackle.  Film at 11.

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