Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Super Ads 2014

Ready for the three greatest Super Bowl ads of 2014? Total opinion here, but these three ads will move the meter of my beloved ad industry forever.

I said greatest. Perhaps even boldest.

Not the funniest, not the coolest, the most expensive, best special effects or fan favorites. You can all debate those on Media Week, AdWeek, CNN, and a host of other news and business sources that will painstakingly read the metrics and analytics of response rates and recal. 

As a self-styled 'adman' I take measure of when the winds of changes move the narrative of promotional messaging and makes a difference. This year, three ads did that for me.

Note: to view these ads via their YouTube links, simply click on the title link under each image.

Imagine you've decided to quit your job. Bold decision (been there once myself actually). Now envision doing it front of 100 million people doing the super bowl. Add in actor John Turturro narrating your decision. That's exactly what GoDaddy customer "Gwen" experienced when she voices, emphatically to her boss; in front of whole world, "I quit." 

That took balls. For her. For GoDaddy to stop showing boobs and comedy for a change and to back that with the most expensive prime-time viewing slot in the year. Impressive, GoDaddy. It might even sway my sullen opine of you and your monolithic and spurious business practices. Keep that up.

In what is certainly the most visible bi-racial family profile I have EVER seen on network television advertising, this commercial made my mouth drop. We've seen the traditional nuclear family, Mom, Dad, 2.3 kids and family dog, portrayed in 100's of commercials. And we have seen them in all colors of the rainbow, Caucasian, Negro, Asian, Hispanic, Hindi. But never so blatantly a racially mixed family as a black father, who frequently glances over to his white wife as they explain to their biracial daughter that she is going to have a little brother.

Coming from bi-racial heritage myself, as do all four of my (now teenage) children, this spot holds a special place for me, sure. However, it is a bigger–bolder–statement to the world at large that interracial harmony is both celebrated and embraced by a giant conglomerate-style entity as Cheerios. This is an installment in a series of ads featuring this family and the bigots are stewing. Let them. The real world is now reflected in the face of American advertising. This can only lead to further breakthroughs. I am beside myself. 

This one flew under the radar for a lot of people but sent shivers down my spine. This Coca-Cola ad features vignettes of people of all different ethnicity set to the backdrop of America the beautiful. With one powerful exception. 

The anthem is sung in over a dozen different languages. 

Not all at once, mind you,  but from bar to bar, the language switches only to keep coming back (and in final crescendo) to English. Every person, family or group is shown in all their ethnic and same-sex splendor. Sure Coca-Cola is a global brand, hell, it might be THE global brand–but this ad raises the bar of celebrating diversity in ways that can't fully be put into words. Believe me, as of the writing of this post, the racist response to this ad is also at near toxic levels.

Bravo Coke, bravo.

Now to be fair, my kids–and many adults I've discussed this with— didn't even recall these ads. They remember the big stuff, the goofy snarky, pranky and special-effect-laden, star-studded stuff. But these three ads have changed the face of modern mass media communications in ways that will ripple into our futures for years to come.

All three of these spots are bold and move us out of our collective comfort zone. I tend to hate or feel indifferent about mass market advertising—especially Superbowl ads—but the world of mass communication is changing and the future looks just a little bit brighter.

If only in the way big companies peddle their wares. 

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