The Lack of Super “Super Bowl” Ads? I Blame the Economy.

I’ll begin by saying that I am not a big sports fan. Or even a small sports fan. But I do genuinely look forward to the Super Bowl for two reasons: 1) Hot spinach dip, and 2) seeing the best ads of the year — or at least the most expensive.

Well, this year there was no spinach dip for reasons not worth explaining, so let’s get right to the ads.

To borrow from the lexicon of sports, what’s up with everyone playing it safe? Guys getting hit in the … you know. Women whose clothes mysteriously fly off.

What’s going on? Did the best creative minds in advertising flat line? That’s doubtful, but they’ll no doubt be blamed. Here’s what I think happened: When the economy goes bad, advertisers fall back on “sure bets” — slapstick and semi-naked women.

If you’re curious, has a great recap of the big-spend ads here. I was pleased that the writer, Scott Stevenson, has the same question I did about the Budweiser ads: If the narrator of the story is really a third-generation immigrant Clydesdale, why does he still have a thick Scottish accent? Check out his lack of assimilation here.

Were there any standouts? Sure. I counted five:

  1. E-Trade: Okay, I have to deduct some points for originality, since we have seen this E-Trade baby before. But the addition of the second baby singing Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” wins them all back. Watch.
  2. Cash4Gold: Was it funny or sad to see Ed McMahon and M.C. Hammer, both known for making and subsequently losing millions, show us the gold they planned to pawn for cash? I couldn’t decide. Then Ed held up his gold hip replacement, and I had my answer. Watch.      
  3. Cheetos: Cheetos and Hitchcock don’t usually go together. Except when they do. Here, we watch pigeons attack a woman who is rudely blabbering on her cell phone. I enjoyed this immensely. Watch.
  4. Hulu: If you’ve ever watched 30 Rock – maybe even on – you know the brilliance that is Alec Baldwin, “TV star” (his quotes, not mine). Here, he challenges the popular notion that TV rots your brain, insisting it only “softens the brain, like a ripe banana.” Watch
  5. CareerBuilder: The CareerBuilder “It may be time to find a new job” ad had some great moments, especially the “Hey Dummy” greeting. My only complaint was that it went on too long. Once your audience gets it, it’s time to get out. Watch.

Did I leave anything out? Share what you liked — or hated. And in closing, I leave you with one of the most famous and truly groundbreaking Super Bowl ads of all time.

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5 replies
  1. Roland Smart says:

    Wait, no spinach dip? WTF?

    I personally thought it was rather telling that there were more job site ads than I’ve ever seen before during the Super Bowl. Obviously the economy is to blame. Interestingly, LinkedIn was absent despite their massive recession proof growth.

  2. Vanda says:

    wow. that is alot of information. I dont even know if I could do all that. And thank you so much for lettming me in on all the info.

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