To preface this "Anne-alysis" with some street cred- I was once a marketing girl by study and by profession, as well as a professional musician and music educator (among many other things.) Through these experiences, I've come to despise manipulation in ads when it's done in a way that makes people feel inferior or inadequate in order to boost sales, however I equally enjoy cleverly done humor and artistically or emotionally inspiring ads. Even though everyone looks forward to the Super Bowl Commercials - I haven't been all too impressed in the past with the advertiser attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator- as if all SuperBowl watchers are mindless meat-heads. Because of past experiences, I've always preferred the Oscar commercials more because they are designed to appeal to a more creative mind- those of filmmakers, producers, directors, and appreciators of the visual arts.
However, this year the Super Bowl ads stepped it up a BIG notch. Maybe it was a reduced budget for the luxury brands that made it important for them to create a commercial which could be sold at both the Super Bowl AND at the Oscars- but there were quite a few very artistic commercials in the mix that were complete surprises in between the meat-head spots. I welcome this smarter use of resources and I'll test my theory by seeing if some of the same ads get replayed at the Oscars. After watching the entire series of national spots, I have two stand out favorites and I'll tell you why:
WIN #1: Highlighting a unique product experience
The Doritos cheese dust is a unique experience to Doritos and any mention of it will make the ad memorable- both reminding previous consumers what their prior experience is like and informing new consumers of what they can expect from their experience with the product.
WIN #2: Making a negative experience a desirable one
If you've ever had even one Doritos chip, you probably remember that it's no so convenient to do anything else with your fingers after holding onto a chip, unless you have a regular supply of napkins nearby. Most people have associated this dust as a messy and unnecessary feature of a Doritos chip, so to create an ad that takes this often "inconvenient" trait of the product and makes it something desirable, is clever and brilliant, and exactly what marketing SHOULD do.
WIN #3: Socially unexpected and shocking behavior
In order for an ad to be effective, it must be memorable, directly connected to the uniqueness of the product, and create added desire for the product. Since we've already covered the uniqueness and desire part - that leaves only a memorable hook. With ads for erectile dysfunction permeating even our dentist waiting lobby, it's hard to shock Americans anymore... except when you enter the business office realm where we're all supposed to uphold a certain level of professionalism. Enter: unexpected and shocking behavior for the win. What makes it super awesome is that we don't know if the guy is gay or straight and it doesn't even matter- only that he LOVES Doritos dust and will break the unspoken laws of social grace to get it. Bravo. Seriously, truly, brilliant.
WIN #1: The American Dream
As Americans, we love promoting our American brands and we have pride in helping those who are struggling- this ad taps into feelings of inspiring Americans to achieve and reclaim the same greatness and luxury we once had. Being born in Detroit, and having most of my family still in the area, I know what a bad rap the city has on a national level, yet how amazing it is if you actually take the time to discover all of the luxury hidden and preserved within the historic buildings- most of which stemmed directly from the auto industry turning the United States into one of the most innovative and powerful countries in the world during the 1900s. That's no small feat and no small history for a city full of profound luxury built by the sweat of blue collar workers.
WIN #2: Motor City Born
Chrysler is a Detroit born brand, and has been a Detroit (area) based and made product for its entire life. When I lived in Rochester Hills (a northern suburb), I would regularly see test cars painted in matte black with tape on the headlights and grill to cover up which model Chrysler was testing on the public streets at any given time. Considering the movement and souring of the American auto industry, it's refreshing to see a product taking that negative vibe and turning it into a point of pride. This sells a reason to support Chrysler products for the money they will keep in the American economy, in a time when so much of what we own is produced elsewhere.
WIN #3: Unexpected Combinations
The first two take care of unique and desire, but we still need something to make it memorable and stand out against many of the other car ads played during the Super Bowl. By juxtaposing the negative visions of Detroit against the luxurious locations, artisan craftsmanship, and fine arts that Detroit has to offer, they present a vision that American cars aren't just for the working class- they're actually for luxury owners as well. That, combined with the recognition of a well-known Detroit native millionaire who basically rose up from the ashes of old and broken Detroit neighborhoods to a life of luxury and power, makes this a memorable and inspiring commercial that instills desire for the American brand. Total win.
Now - the music...
While I'm not excited by seeing people smash their heads into each other, I do appreciate that this huge publicly watched American spectacle supports the arts in some small way. From the camera crew on the field, to the painters of the field, to the fashion designers of the uniforms, and the sound production team needed to support a combination of field and newscaster noise in a balanced and audibly pleasing way. Let's not forget the musicians, dancers, designers, and choreographers for the entertainment aspects of the pre-game and half-time show as well. Now that I've shown my appreciation for how they support the arts and all of the artistic effort that goes into it, let's move on.
So, Christina Aguilera missed some lyrics in the National Anthem. This is obviously not the first time she's done the National Anthem at a public sports event, so it was just a mistake. Having sung the National Anthem myself in front of a HUGE crowd of people, I can tell you that this is not an easy thing. It is a song designed to be done WITHOUT accompaniment and the vocal range required to pull it off successfully is quite difficult and a bit of a mind-game when you're in the middle of singing it - determining whether you've got the guts to go for some high notes or improvisation opportunities. Because of that, I totally understand how she could have fudged up the lyrics. She still has a great voice and at least she didn't slaughter the music itself. The sad part is, I'm sure most Americans wouldn't have even noticed the missed lyrics if it weren't for social media.
Dear American public - can we please stop insisting that studio musicians perform live without a recorded vocal track? I actually enjoy the Black Eyed Peas as entertainers and how creative their music production team has been with renewing old pop and rock tunes through various sound recording and mixing techniques, but this live performance suffered greatly from the fact that the sound was being mixed and produced live as it was happening. In all likelihood, they didn't have enough rehearsal time to work out the kinks of being in that space and setting everything up on the spot to create a professional performance in like 15 minutes or less. If it's OK for Glee- a TV show which could be recorded with choreography and multiple rehearsals- to allow lip-sycing over their own recorded tracks - why isn't it OK for the performers with limited time at the Super Bowl? These aren't improvised performances or true concerts - these are very planned, crafted, and highly choreographed events designed to fill a very specific time slot that is being broadcast to millions of people at once. Seriously, I'm over the need for a live performance - unless it's a musician who is actually a live musician at heart with a sound that doesn't need to be overproduced just to sound good. Thanks, but no thanks. There were a lot of great and amazing things about that halftime show- but all I'll remember is how bad the sound was, and that's unfortunate.
What do you think? Did anything stand out for you? Feel free to disagree with me - it makes life more interesting. ;-)
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