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February 6, 2012
Girls Got Game: A Super Bowl Recap
 
I was born into a baseball family and married into a football clan. As an act of self-preservation — or perhaps it was a symbolic rebellion — my daughter became an ice hockey fan. The point is, neither of us would willingly watch the Super Bowl as a football game, but as marketers, both of us wanted to see the commercials. Here are some of our impressions.

Matthew ’s Day Off
 

When the teaser for the Honda CR-V was unveiled, Sara was sure it was for a remake or sequel to the movie. Boy, was she ever disappointed! But the Super Bowl ad was very well done, and almost made me want to see the movie again. Sara’s GenY peers were mostly unimpressed; they may have seen the movie once or twice but it certainly wasn’t iconic enough for her generation to embrace the commercial. Understandable, since the movie is older than they are and they’re not buying cars, so Honda probably wasn’t targeting that age group. On YouTube, Honda challenged viewers to identify over two dozen references to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but they did not repeat that challenge on Facebook, and their Twitter tag, #dayoff, turned out to be rather lame. This was definitely a missed opportunity to use social media to get more mileage out of their ad and engage followers. (Full disclosure: we bought a CR-V last year. I’m a big fan of Honda cars.)

Dog Strikes Back 
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, this Volkswagen commercial will really resonate. In an attempt to chase a VW down the street the poor dog finds he is too fat to get through the doggie door. What follows is a strict diet and exercise regime that results in a skinnier dog being able to fly through his door and run alongside the VW. Up until that point, this is a very cute, effective ad. What happens next is interesting. The story shifts to the bar scene in Star Wars where patrons are arguing whether last year’s VW Darth Vader ad was better than the dog-on-a-diet spot they’d just watched on TV. The problem is, unless you are in the ad business or have a very good memory, you are not going to understand the Star Wars connection. Not one of Sara’s friends got this, nor did Sara. (Don’t miss Mark Macias’ discussion of last year’s VW ad.

It’s Half Time in America
This was totally unexpected. Gritty voice, gritty, mostly monochromatic video and, compared to many of the frantic and frenetic ads we’d been seeing all evening, a quiet but powerful message. This ad captured the malaise, if you will, that many Americans have been feeling during these unusual economic times. The first inkling we got that this may have something to do with the auto industry is when the narrative honed in on Detroit. Then came the hope-laden punch line: “Yeah, it’s half time in America, and our second half is about to begin.” I got choked up watching this commercial; Sara thought it was good but didn’t have the same emotional response. “You’re a sucker for America, Mom.” So true, and probably the reason I ran over to Chrysler’s Facebook page and yelled, “Clint Eastwood for President!” Hey, it could happen. This could have been a political commercial, and in fact if I were running for office I would steal it. I hope it somehow helps Chrysler.

It’s Half Time at My House…
This is where I share my almost-famous guacamole dip recipe: Two avocados, peeled and pitted; one tomato peeled and seeded; ½ green pepper, 4 green onions with about 3” of green; 1 tsp coriander powder; 1 tsp chili powder; 1 Tbsp oil; 2 Tbsp lemon juice; salt to taste; taco chips. If you are not lazy you would smash the avocados and chop the vegetables, but I just throw everything into the food processor. Bon appétit!

A tiny shout out to all of the ads in the “sex sells” category, including spots from KIA, GoDaddy, and Teleflora, most of which were “meh”-worthy according to Sara because they were completely expected. The notable exception was David Beckham for H&M. Sara, her friends, and I all had the same reaction to this ad, which boiled down to “WHOA!” I think I was amazed by his collection of tattoos more than anything else.

Weego the Rescue Dog 
Budweiser owns the Super Bowl, and they always have. They offered up some very well-done nostalgia pieces during the evening; “Eternal Optimism,” “Return of the King,” and some actual product ads for Bud Light; “Work” and “Platinum,” but the crown of the evening was their final Bud Light ad. Weego is immediately identified as a rescue dog who delivers cold Bud Light to the party-goers in a series of very cute and somewhat amazing tricks. The last frame directs the viewer to the Bud Light Facebook page, where Budweiser will donate $1 for every “Like” to The American Rescue Foundation. This is how it’s done right, folks — a clever, entertaining commercial, effective use of social media to engage fans, and a company “giving back” to a worthy charity. Sara and I agreed that this was the winner of the evening.

You can view and vote for your favorite Super Bowl commercial at the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter.

Finally, Sara and I would like to thank the New York Giants and the New England Patriots for what turned out to be a pretty good game. For football.

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The GenY/Baby Boomer mother-daughter duo: Sara Wenner is a recent college graduate with a brand spanking new marketing degree. Rhonda Wenner is a Very Old Advertising Person whose marketing diploma is so old it crumbles to the touch. She hopes next year the Phillies get to play in the Super Bowl.
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