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Though stinging, I love this gag Tweet from Adweak. Many a Superbowl I spent gripping my phone (or radiating my balls via laptop) racing the commercial feed on TV, and countless other assorted creative types, to try and get in a witty and insightful Tweet. Then another. And another. Of course I also needed to embellish my comments with a unique and brilliant hash tag, this in addition to the tag we’d been assigned. Thank God for the reemergence of 60 second TVC’s. Those extra seconds were gold.

Speed dating for “likes” and “retweets.” Such was the privilege of being selected by one trade pub or another to “live Tweet” the commercials playing during the Superbowl. During Twitter’s heyday it was vogue behavior. What it really accomplished was nil but being chosen fed my ego as a genius creative, enabling my on the money insight and rapier wit. And I was hardly alone. Big names from our industry were sucked in as well. For three hours and change we were the in-crowd. The creative community speaks! Follow us and learn. We know how to vivisect a TVC. In real time no less. (Unless, of course one pre-wrote his tweets having screened the commercials weeks in advance.)

Oh, the grandiosity of it all. To think that legions of my peers, clients and well-wishers were hanging on my every Tweet. Such folly. (Though I won’t deny being retweeted by Adweek made me giddy.

Still, by the third quarter I was numb. Spilling nacho cheese on my computer and dirty looks from my wife did not make the experience better. “Who’s the idiot on the laptop?” “Oh, that’s my husband. He’s doing it for work.”

But, hey I was changing the world. My opinions were becoming part of a national conversation, one that the 90 million people actually watching the game were excluded from. The next morning I would have hundreds of new followers. My Klout score (remember that?) would be through the roof.

Didn’t happen.

I’m not saying real time social commentary doesn’t work. Millions upon millions do it. The peanut gallery is vast. Lovers and haters and trolls spit fire and throw shade. The Superbowl and other massive “live” events draw legions of flies. But choreographing a VIP community is futile in this mob, forcing a reality where every member is sending and no one is receiving. Moreover, a bunch of creative directors spit balling Super Bowl commercials on Twitter reeks like an old idea. #whogivesashit

This Sunday my fingers are on the chicken wings, not my phone. That is, unless AdAge hits me up. My Tweets are pure gold!

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Gaga did good…

Outside of picture-perfect weather and a truly beautiful performance of our National Anthem by Lady Gaga, little about the Super Bowl was amazing.

Unless you’re a fan of crushing defense (which is something), everything about the game was… okay. It was a sloppy, penalty-ridden affair, periodically fun to watch and technically competitive. The score was close. Both defenses were good. Denver’s was outstanding. Peyton Manning “The Sheriff” got to ride off into the sunset with a Super Bowl win. He’d be insane to come back. But staying home and making hokey commercials could easily drive him back onto the field. I don’t care one way or the other. Do you? Sometimes nice guys don’t finish last.

So that was the football. What about the rest of it i.e. the commercials and the halftime show? Again, the word “okay.” Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars were slick, watchable and, frankly, forgettable. Folks in the Bay Area grumbled that it should have been local artists, Metallica that did the show. According to reviews, the band killed it “The Night Before” at AT&T park. This would have to suffice as the only controversy surrounding the halftime show. Given the NFL’s tumultuous year (concussions, deflated footballs, domestic violence), I’m sure they were delighted by an “okay” show.

The advertising had no outstanding entries, excellent or terrible. Lots of celebrities and talking animals. Again. The “Wiener Dog” commercial for Heinz was cute. An Audi spot had the added gravitas of featuring David Bowie in its soundtrack. Jeep gave us a nifty hashtag with #4x4ever delivered on the back of a rambling anthem for their vehicles. Doritos iconic triangles were sky-written across San Francisco’s azure skies. Clever. There was a dancing monkey-human baby. Whatever.


Not just dogs – wiener dogs!

Honestly, I was somewhat bummed there were no truly awful commercials, though the preponderance of bizarre medicine spots grated. I mean a stomach puppet? Honorable mention for sucky goes to the specious argument put forward by Scientology –something about it being the intersection of spirituality and technology. Scientology is neither. Still, the commercial came and went. Hating on it more would be like beating a dead horse.

All in all, the SuperBowl was damn okay.

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“Why the long face?”

I would have preferred a snowstorm. Seriously.

Watching the Superbowl was like watching the proverbial car crash. I gaped for a while and then moved on. Honestly, did the Denver Broncos forget what day it was? They were awful.

However, so was most everything else. Including the commercials I happened to catch, which, given I’d stopped paying attention to the TV, were not all of them. I’ll get back to this.

But first the game. Let’s start with Peyton Manning. As good as he has been this season, from the very first botched play, Peyton Manning looked like a confused and terrified little boy. To my chagrin, he made loudmouth Seahawk, Richard Sherman seem prescient. Peyton did “throw a lot of ducks.” Some right into the hands of players from the opposing team. So bad was the “best player on the field” that it will likely eliminate him from the same conversation as Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and even the man he helped defeat two weeks prior, Tom Brady.

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“I pooped my big boy pants.”

Manning received no help whatever from his teammates. The O-line was pathetic. The coaches made no adjustments. At times it was odd and eerie watching this season’s record-breaking offense play so poorly.

Fox was mediocre at best. Granted, they were scrambling with the last minute scratch of veteran broadcaster, Terry Bradshaw, whose father had died the day before. I believe they substituted Michael Strahan, who was game but ill prepared. Beyond that I found the entire broadcast rote. The Superbowl has become a series of sponsored moments, from the coin toss to Halftime to the insipid “How does it feel?” questions at the end.

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“At least I didn’t suck.”

As for the Halftime show, I will give credit to Bruno Mars for delivering a slick and competent performance. I respect the dude for showing up prepared for such a big stage. The Red Hot Chile Peppers were completely unnecessary. Is there anyone on earth who still listens to this band, even nostalgically? They are like Fallout Boy; only imagine Fallout Boy ten years from now. Ouch.

Rote is a good description for the commercials. Few of them rose above the calculated goofiness of animals behaving badly, celebrity cameos and other super tired super tropes. Sure, I liked a few well enough. The Kia “Matrix” spot was big, fun and it actually sold something, which means it did at least two things better than most of the others. T-Mobile had it’s moments. Couple others.

For controversy we got Coke’s multi-cultural singing of “America the Beautiful.” I’m told the blogosphere lit up with haters and defenders. Meh.

For pre-meditated “shocker” there was the face-lifted Bob Dylan shilling Chrysler. What color do you want, Bob? How about tangled-up-in-blue? When Clint Eastwood and Eminem made similar appearances for Detroit and Chrysler and America everything clicked. Bob Dylan laid an egg.

Frankly, the whole f—king thing laid an egg. #Superfail.

To paraphrase the opening line from Radio Shack’s barrel of retro celebrities commercial: “The eighties called. They want their Superbowl back.”

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One of my favorite “spots.”

And so went another Super Bowl, like sands through the hourglass. I had the dubious honor of “live blogging” about the commercials for Mashable. I say dubious because I had to do it at someone’s Super Bowl party. Basically, that meant I stayed put in a corner of the TV room, laptop on my lap, tapping away, trying not to get nacho cheese on my Powerbook. I’m not a terribly social guy but this was downright isolationist. The host referred to me as “Hey, Blogger!” As in, “Hey Blogger, do you need a beer?” God forbid I tell him I didn’t drink. Then I’d really be an outcast. Truth be known, I greatly enjoyed the engagement. I’m not good at parties. Thankfully, given I now live in San Francisco, the game was most everyone’s priority. Some geek on his computer caused little distraction. Regardless, I am appreciative of my wife for tolerating my boorish behavior.

While it was tough hearing the commercials over the party’s din I did see and comprehend most of them. I’m not sure there were any blockbuster ads in the lot but I did enjoy several. The few that stood out were Ram’s “Ode to a Farmer,” Tide’s “Montana Stain” and the VW Bug commercial featuring a white dude from Minnesota channeling a very happy Jamaican. His line “Land of ten thousand lakes!” was one of my favorites of the night.

The blog feed suggested Samsung’s epic, star-studded “New Thing” commercial was a winner. But since it was dialog driven I heard virtually none of it. I couldn’t help but think of the old adage that in order for a commercial to be truly good it has to make sense with the sound turned off. I don’t agree with the sentiment but I do wonder how many millions couldn’t hear the actor’s lines. I suppose that’s what the Internet is for.

By far the biggest crowd pleaser was Bud’s commercial, featuring a long lost Clydesdale reuniting with its owner, now driving a beer truck. This over the melodic strains of Stevie Nicks. Derivative of War Horse it was a sweet commercial, very well done. Still, I couldn’t help Tweeting “Fleetwood Mac & Cheese.”

As for the game itself it turned out to be an exciting affair, the Niners coming back from a huge deficit only to botch a set of downs at the goal line and lose. The whole game was mired by an interminable power outage, lasting 30 minutes. It was after the delay that the 49ers made their comeback. Had they won I’m sure all the talk would be about the power failure stymieing Baltimore’s momentum. Either way, the fail moment was an embarrassment for the league, network and maybe even the United States. It is one of the biggest events in the world. Heads will roll. In the end, who gives a shit?

The blackout did result in a marketing highlight from Oreo. The brand Tweeted about “dunking in the dark,” causing a blow-up in the Twitterverse. Will anyone buy more Oreos this week? I doubt it. But what does that have to do with anything?

Alas, I found Beyonce’s Half Time show a disappointment. She doesn’t lack for confidence and good looks but her spectacle struck me as an endless Pepsi commercial, circa 1980’s. My Tweet: “I miss U2.” Call me old but by her second number even the teens in our room began leaving.

Speaking of Pepsi commercials, one of my fellow live bloggers, the famed adman, Lee Garfinkel took Taco Bell to task for ripping off his long-ago “Stay Young” campaign for the number two soft drink. He was right but then wasn’t Ron Howard’s Cocoon about rocking octogenarians as well? In any event, products making people feel young is old as dirt.

Despite Ray Lewis’s checkered past and dumb pot game comment about God being on their side, I wish to congratulate the Baltimore Ravens for a dramatic win. Baltimore could use it. I also want to thank Mashable for the opportunity to participate on their platform. Hopefully, I added something. And to San Francisco: Nice comeback guys. Next year will be fun.

During the hullabaloo surrounding Superbowl ads this year not one article, blog post, comment, or poll had anything to do with the actual stuff that was being advertised. Plenty of lip service was given to product recall and product relevance but precious little to the thing itself. Is that because no one cares about products and services enough to discuss them or because there isn’t anything really new to talk about?

Take the automobile industry. There were plenty of extravagant commercials on the Superbowl for 2012 models. Indeed, some of the best work came from Honda, Acura, Kia, Chevy and others. But what about the cars themselves? For the most part they’re all good products. We know them well. Maybe that’s the thing (I’m not saying problem): We are all so familiar with car brands that new models do nothing for us. I loved the Kia Optima “Sand Man” commercial driven by the Bombastic metal of Motley Crue but calling it a “dream car.” Really? It’s just another sedan with some whistles and bells. Yet, I’m not calling Kia out. Perhaps this thrilling commercial is what’s new about the Optima. That a sedate car brand like it has the stones to be in an ad like this. Maybe that’s enough.

Frankly, the only really new car on TV Sunday was the Acura NSX. Now that’s a dream car. And yet, it was Gerry Seinfeld we remembered. The spot rightfully garnered high praise for its production. The vehicle, awesome as it was, held silent vigil, appearing only briefly, ignition off.

In terms of actual product news, beyond the ad itself, other advertisers fared no better. From yogurt to beer, the products were but placeholders or, said another way, commercial enablers. What little news there was (more alcohol in Bud Light Platinum) got lost in translation. Oh, look. A new bottle…


Gee, I wonder if it glows in the dark.

That’s the blessing and curse of advertising. It exists to trumpet stuff but the stuff is blown out. We are conditioned to not believe anything is new or improved or better than ever. We accept these come-ons like a sailor walking past a string of brothels. Been there. Done that.

Yet, the sailor is going to make a purchase. Therefore, the only sin worse than advertising would be not to advertise. The other brothels are fronting their goods. Therefore they all must.


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Those who suggest the sailor may have already chosen a brothel online, thereby eliminating the need for advertising are only half right. Now the girl out front must convince the sailor to break his appointment and choose her instead. Or, in broader terms, the brothels need to take their marketing online. Suddenly, we get loyalty programs and tiered memberships. And, of course, the messages get evermore creative. Yet, the girls remain the same.

Which gets me back to my original point: the more we turbo-charge the messages (as with Superbowl commercials) the more the products feel the same.