Sunday, January 25, 2009

2009 Super Bored Awards Preview

Super Bowl XLIII is coming up next week, and excitement's in the air. Football fans in Arizona are giddy with anticipation, Steelers fans are confident their team is going to continue its postseason success, and, most importantly, eager fans of corporate advertising are gearing up for the single biggest day in all of marketing. So we continue with our tradition of handing out our Ad Wizards Super Bored Awards to those commercials that instantly earn a place here in Ad Wizards history.

After Sunday's game, we'll be writing up our reactions to the Super Bowl commercials and handing out the awards. Here's a rundown of the 8 categories, and our picks for possible "winners":

Apple 1984 Memorial Award for Least Shitty Ad

Explanation: Why "Least Shitty" and not "Best" ad? Check out the descriptions of this year's spots, and tell me which of those commercials sound like something you'd want to watch. Exactly.

Prediction: I know I've ragged on car commercials a lot over the past year and a half, but Hyundai's spot with Yo-Yo Ma playing a classical piece on his cello sounds safe enough. Their new Assurance Program which "allows new-vehicle buyers or leasees to return cars for up to a year after purchase if they lose their income due to a job loss" sounds like a cool and relevant promotion. Predicting this award is all about choosing the least of many evils.

Most Overproduced Ad

Explanation: Super Bowl ads are expensive. Unfortunately, the way some companies respond to this is by going for a case of stimulus overload, throwing everything at the wall and seeing if something will stick in the public consciousness. Last year this award went to Sobe Life Water and their horrible dancing lizards ad, which attempted to combine Naomi Campbell (?), mediocre CGI, and several of the most pointless jokes you've ever seen into gold. Shockingly, it didn't work.

Prediction: Audi has brought in The Transporter's Jason Statham to do, well, exactly what he does in The Transporter - run around trying to get away from bad guys by driving a luxury car. Since I know this is a problem a lot of us have in real life, I'm sure this spot will resonate. What's that? He also flees bad guys through different eras? Well, I hope there are some hilarious wigs involved.

Worst Use of "Humor" Award

Explanation: Pretty self-explanatory, really. There are dozens of ads on TV each day that could win this award, but during the Super Bowl, when the stakes are raised, having a painfully unfunny ad really goes to another level of shittiness.

Prediction: It would be easy to call this one for Anheuser-Busch; we handed it to Bud Light last year and beer ads do tend to suck. But that seems like the coward's way out. Doritos is another possibility because they actually let the general public submit ads, but I'm leaning towards CareerBuilder, as its ad apparently features "a koala bear and a co-worker in a Speedo." You're already doubled over laughing, right?

The Carlos Mencia Book Prize for Most Egregious Use of B-List Celebrities

Explanation: Observe. Carlos Mencia fell off the map so rapidly, the joke in the name of this award is practically nonsense. Suffice it to say, this baby goes to the ad that shoe-horns in the silliest, biggest waste-of-money celebrity endorsement.

Prediction: AdAge doesn't list many celebrity appearances in this year's crop of ads, but I bet someone will surprise us. For now, we have to go with Coke Zero's tie-in with Troy Polamalu. Sure, he's a Steeler, and Pittsburgh is playing in the Super Bowl this year, but I reject the fact that he's that recognizable. Another consideration is that the Coke Zero spot will be produced by my personal favorite advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Flimsiest Pretense Award

Explanation: Some people out there think sex can sell anything. These people are called "hacks," and they control a vast amount of advertising. This award goes out to the most inappropriately-placed sex appeal, the most nonsensical naked lady, or the least intuitive pairing of a product with T&A (read: food & sex). If the past is any indication, there will be plenty of qualifying ads to choose from for this award.

Prediction: was the winner last year with its laughable "Danica Patrick unzips her jacket and almost shows her boobs" spot. We see no reason to predict any other company this year, because Danica Patrick is back, and she's even less relevant. Here's the 2009 :30 spot description: "'Shower,' the current front-runner, features Patrick in a shower with another woman as three college students control the women's movements from a computer keyboard."

What about seeing a not-that-hot race car driver in the shower makes me want to purchase a domain name for my web site?

Cheapest Budget/Clumsiest Execution Award

Explanation: Again, fairly self-explanatory. Last year this went to SalesGenie, which allowed its CEO to write its ads and then used the worst-looking animation you've ever seen to get them on the air.

Prediction: As we mentioned earlier, Doritos is airing an ad that was created by the public; unless they have some ringers in there, the budget for this was probably about zero. Certainly a contender. If that's too easy, look to Teleflora, a flowers-delivery service that probably had to hold a bake sale just to raise the money to buy a 30-second spot.

SkyMall Championship Trophy

This award goes to the "worst overall attempt to sell a product," referring not so much to how bad the ad is as to how bad the specific pitch is. Last year this went to Planters for advertising its cashews by using an ugly woman's cleavage.

Well, that depends. Is eTrade going to show a baby throwing up again? If their "sneak peek outtakes" video is anything to go by, the eTrade pitch is going to focus on babies puking, swearing, or doing inappropriately sexual things. I started five online trading accounts in the 30 seconds since I watched that ad because of the obvious connection. Or I didn't, because what the fuck.

The Light/Miller Lite/Emerald Nuts Award for Worst Superbowl Ad

The worst ad shall embody the qualities of tastelessness, stupidity, over-production, boorishness and the overall indecipherability that become the very worst commercials. This should be the kind of advertisement that, upon viewing, makes you never want to purchase the product. The kind of commerical that is so shockingly bad it reduces sales, gets the CMO fired, and generally annoys America until it's pulled from the airwaves.

SoBe and their freaky lizard commercial won last year. And once again we're going to pick the same company to get our award. The AdAge blurb mentions a couple of important points about this year's SoBe commercial:
- It features the "popular" (?) SoBe lizards
- It will be 60 seconds of torture
- It will show both NFL stars and characters from the DreamWorks movie "Monsters vs. Aliens"
- The theme will be the ballet Swan Lake
- It has "Rhythmic Effects"

You've been warned. If you're going to attempt to watch the game, have a steady finger on that Mute button, keep a blindfold nearby, and place a cyanide tablet near you just in case everything backfires and you end up watching all 60 seconds of this commercial. Don't worry, we have your best interests in mind.


Last year the worst of the worst (outside of the Sobe spot) just didn't seem that egregrious. With the descriptions for 2009, you can't help but think we'll get some stand out offerings from advertisers this year. We may be in a recession, but that ain't stopping advertisers from putting on a really big, and really over-produced, show.


Anonymous said...

CareerBuilder, as its ad apparently features "a koala bear and a co-worker in a Speedo." You're already doubled over laughing, right?

Here's the 2009 :30 spot description: "'Shower,' the current front-runner, features Patrick in a shower with another woman as three college students control the women's movements from a computer keyboard."

WTF??? These sounds so stupid. But nothing like that SoBe one.

Patrick said...

Troy Polamalu is maybe the best safety in the NFL, and you can be sure that the announcers will be saying his name a lot in the big game, so even for the casual audience his star should be big enough. He also has an easily recognizable and distinct look, for what it's worth, and doesn't tend to get lost in the shuffle. At this point, he's at least a bigger celebrity than Abe Vigoda.

Tyler said... has an ad with MC Hammer and Ed McMahon, so that can't be good.