Ad Review

Super Ads

I’m going to try something that I’ve always wanted to do…I’m going to review and rate each of the commercials in the Super Bowl.  I watched the game in real-time (or as close to it as one can get with a wife and three-year old daughter who went to bed somewhere in the 3rd Quarter), compiling notes as I went.  After the game, I went back, using the magic of DVR technology, and took a second, third, and sometimes fourth look.

Let’s get to it…(note – the names of the ads are my own, since I didn’t feel like looking up the names for 50 some ads.  Also, I didn’t link to any of them.  They are all on YouTube if you need to see them again).


Bud Light Platinum “Gold into Platinum”- Six minutes of game time elapse off the clock before we get to the first ad of the night.  As is tradition, Bud Light is up first.  But what is this?  A serious commercial?  For something called Bud Light Platinum?  Where are the talking animals?  The dogs doing tricks?  The beautiful women?  The kicks to the groin?  I keep waiting for the punch line and the closest I get is describing a Bud Light product as “Top shelf taste”.  D-

Ad Review – Ally Bank “Stop Accepting”

Company:  Ally Bank

Campaign: “Stop Accepting”

Campaign Theme in Haiku Format:

Accept repeating
Over and over again.
Too much?  Accept it.



Repetition is a good way to make a point.  You may not know this, but repetition is an excellent way to make a point.  Seriously, did you know that repetition is a great way to make your point?  With that in mind, this ad does an excellent job of making it’s point (and in a much less annoying way than I just did):  you can either accept being a whipping boy/revenue source for your bank, or you can revolt against The Man and switch to Ally Bank.

When I come across an ad that uses repetition to beat it’s point into my skull, I typically count the number of times they repeat the company name/key word/phrase/tagline.  In a 30 second spot, 5-6 repetitions is a lot.  With this 60 second ad?  By my rough count, I get 14 – and that is not including the nearly 10 seconds of having “accept it” looping continuously in the background, which probably pushes the count well over 30.  In addition, the ATM screen with “Accept” and “Don’t Accept” shows another 10 times.  Mission accomplished on driving your point home.

I really enjoy Ally Bank’s campaign, as they use great visual examples to make their key point:  we put up with a lot of crap, abuse, and ethically questionable behavior from our banks.  A couple of other favorites:  the little girl who must pay a fee to ride her bike outside of a tiny square and another new spot where they ask complete strangers to watch $100,000.  They do an excellent job of pointing out how you and I are likely being screwed by our banks.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is most people would rather get a root canal than switch banks – regardless of how abused and service charged they are.  In 2010, less than 8% of consumers reported that they switched banks.  While fees were the second most common motivating factor (17% of respondents) it was far behind the primary reason for changing banks:  life circumstances such as a move or a divorce.

In short, as long as you and I are staying in the same town, we’re likely staying with the same bank.  But I completely get Ally’s motives.  You probably aren’t going to switch, but these ads do a good job of putting awareness and a sliver of doubt in your mind about your banking relationship.

I do have one complaint about this ad:  ultimately, the guy “accepts it”, takes out the cash, and goes on with his life.  There are only three conclusions one can draw from this:

  1. As noted above, people will pay to not be inconvenienced, which is not the message Ally is hoping to send.
  2. People should give into peer pressure, especially if they are directed to do something 30+ times.  What a great message for the kids!
  3. A $3 ATM fee is a small price to pay to keep your wife happy.

Besides – assuming the guy has a debit card, there is almost zero need to ever pay an ATM fee – regardless of your bank.  Just go to your neighborhood grocery store, pharmacy, big box, etc. and buy a pack of gum/candy bar/soda.  Pay with your debit card and get $20 back in cash.  Instead of paying a $3 ATM fee, you have only paid $1, and you have a pack of gum to show for it.

Ad Review – Miller Lite “Man Up”

Welcome to the first of what I hope to a recurring series of Ad Reviews where your humble blogger will provide comment, criticism, and praise for the ads that are on while you go to the bathroom or press >> on the DVR remote.

In the 20th Century, there would be many credentials necessary for someone like me to publish critical commentary on the creative work of others – such as several years of experience in the ad game, dozens of big name clients I’ve helped, prestigious awards I’ve won, etc.

Fortunately for me, this is the 21st Century and my essential credentials are a) an internet connection, b) a free blog site, and c) a (mostly) functional keyboard* The fact that I have a degree in Advertising from (what is now) a prestigious Big Ten university probably makes me overqualified for the gig.

*I’m pretty sure somebody could pull off a serviceable blog without using any letters worth more than 5 points in Scrabble. Heck, I’m pulling it off so far. Of course, time will tell if I can get this puppy throttled up to “Serviceable”.

So let’s dive in…First up is Miller Lite’s “Man Up” campaign.

Ad Review – Nebraska Lottery

This morning I was driving the little one to daycare when a commercial came on the radio.  Usually at that point, I’ll change the station, as the young-in loves music and will dance in her carseat if a beat catches her.  But at the time, I was calling Mom on a green princess phone (sometimes it is just easier to play along with them), so the station stayed the same.

One of the commercials we heard was one by the Nebraska Lottery.  This was not the usual Lottery ad (“Spend your paycheck on scratch-off tickets!!!  The odds still stink, but they have pictures of Larry the Cable Guy, Ford Trucks, or KISS on them!!!”)* 

*I’m no market researcher or demographics guru, but I can’t help but notice a common thread between scratch-off lottery ticket themes.  Let me put it another way:  when was the last time you saw a scratch-off ticket with Warren Buffett, Lexus SUVs, or the Three Tenors on them?

No, this particular ad was a kinder, nobler ad.  It was touting (bragging?) how all of those losing tickets end up helping projects all across the state.  Quite frankly, I’m perfectly okay with this type of ad, as it is nice to hear about the good things the scratch-off tax is providing.  The tone was very straight-forward with an announcer reading off a list of ways the Lottery is help.  All good.  And while patting themselves on the back, the announcer says proceeds from the lottery “impact all 94 counties in Nebraska.

One small problem:  there are “only” 93 counties in Nebraska.

Now I get that mistakes happen, and if a big city agency is doing the creative work for the lottery, their employees might consider Nebraska nothing more than fly-over country.  But the agency doing the Lottery’s ads is based in Omaha.  Since I wouldn’t mind working in advertising down the road, I’m not going to name names (but if you really want to know, I suggest a Goggle search for “ad agency for nebraska lottery”).  For an error like this to get through a Nebraska ad agency (presumably, employing at least one Nebraska native), a State of Nebraska agency (again, presumably employing at least one Nebraska native) and who knows how many other sets of ears, that shows either a lack of attention or a complete failure by our education system.

And I’d wager a big stack of Tick-Tack-Toe Rodeo scratchers on the teachers doing their job correctly.

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