The More Ads Change, The More They Stay the Same

February 8, 2010

In the first few years of the internet revolution, I kept waiting for Super Bowl ads to adapt to the new world of networked customers, using their high visibility moment to lure TV viewers into a more interactive experience via their PCs or mobile phones.

Instead, the art form known as the Super Bowl ad keeps sticking stubbornly to the identical forms that served it in its first four decades: beer parties, talking animals, and uplifting stories of soda-inspired happiness.

Watching the annual parade of gazillion dollar ads on Hulu last night, I found myself paraphrasing Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, “Every Super Bowl, I get a year older… but these ads keep staying the same age.”

If there was a recurring theme to this year’s ads, I would link it to the Economic Mood Which Must Not Be Named. Just as television programs last year reflected the Great Recession obliquely (with grimmer themes, but not unemployed characters), the subtext of this year’s Super Bowl ads seemed to be: “Your life (job, girlfriend, family) really sucks, but our brand will make one small corner of it a little more tolerable.” How uninspiring.

The ad I actually enjoyed the most was for Google, an ironic twist, as the search ad behemoth turned to mass market broadcast advertising and brand building – the exact opposite of the model it offers its own advertising clients (hyper-targeted, permission-based, and transactional).

In Google’s “Parisian Love,” the brand is front and center (unlike the car ads, where you can easily miss it). The ad shows Google’s product features, ties them to emotional benefits for the customer, and wraps it all up in a love story. This is all conveyed via nothing but screenshots, as the ad shows how search has transformed our lives in a way that nacho chips, SUVs, and light beer never will.

So maybe doing a Super Bowl ad the old fashioned way doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

See the Google Ad on YouTube:

Watch all the ads on Hulu’s AdZone

BY DAVID ROGERS

This post originally posted by David on the DavidRogers.biz blog at: http://www.davidrogers.biz

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