The holidays have passed, which means it’s that time again… For some, it’s the holiest day of the year: The Super Bowl!

But let’s face it, we all know the true meaning of Super Bowl Sunday. Unless your team is one of the lucky two competing for the championship, it’s all about the commercials.

Companies pull out all the stops for their 30-second spots that air during the game. They had better, because those spots are running for as much as $4 million per ad! It’s a price tag some companies are willing to pay since it means their product will be seen by upwards of 111 Million people.

If the commercial is a hit, Monday water cooler talk alone will increase brand awareness tenfold. If it bombs, the company has wasted huge money and the advertising team responsible for the dud will be searching for new jobs before the trophy presentation.

So does this multi-million dollar gamble pay off? That depends on the commercial:

Let’s start with the worst of last year:

3rd to Last Place:

GoDaddy.com put themselves on the map a few years ago by showing a risqué commercial with a generic hot girl basically being naked. Then the entire nation saw Janet Jackson’s boob on the halftime show, and the commercial was no longer special. Yet GoDaddy keeps going to this well and it works less and less each time. Little tip: replace Danica Patrick (a waddling, race car driver) and Jillian Michaels (I’m not quite sure what she does, but her name was once a Jeopardy answer) with say, Megan Fox. More people will pay attention, and it’s not like Fox has been doing anything since marrying 90210.

2nd to Last Place:

WTFunk, Hyundai?! I got dizzy watching this commercial now. I can only imagine if I had actually seen this commercial last year when I was 10 beers deep. I might have thrown up, and I don’t think I could ever buy a car that makes me vomit.

Last Place:

Alright, Hyundai, you outdid yourself. You wasted a lot of money. Second to worst AND worst commercial? The rhythmic pounding probably did more to put stuffed football fans into food comas than it did to put them in the driver’s seat of your compact car (which most football fans can’t even fit inside of).

Summary:

Why were these commercials so unappealing to the public?

Unrelatable: As humans, we like to connect with things. It’s why a stuffed animal, a cotton-filled toy manufactured in bulk on an assembly line, can be our best friend until we’re 17 years old (don’t judge). None of these three had any aspect we could relate to. Most people have never signed a contract to appear faux-naked and try to bail. The kaleidoscope Hyundai commercial moves too quickly for a person to latch on to any one part, and the last place Hyundai commercial showed us absolutely nothing.

Uncreative: The GoDaddy commercial is almost identical to the commercials we’ve seen every year the website has existed. The Kaleidoscope Hyundai is basically the same special effect thingy over and over again for 30 seconds. And in college I made a video that was vaguely reminiscent of the last place Hyundai commercial. I got a C.

So now…

The Ones That Worked: Top 3

3rd Place:

This commercial is awesome. Kids are adorable, especially when you don’t have to see their faces or listen to them screaming. It also references Star Wars, which is an immediate win since I still pretend I’m a Jedi every time I walk into a store with automatic doors.

A TIE FOR 1st PLACE:

The most epic Pug ever. The guy is kind of a tool, so it’s great to see him get his comeuppance from a dog the size of a throw pillow. This was also part of the Doritos Crash The Super Bowl Contest. People submit their own commercials, and Doritos chooses the top 3 to show on the air. The prize is commensurate with how the commercial ranks. This is a genius way for Doritos to get 3 commercials made and not have to pay a dime in production costs.

They Leave An Impression: All three have memorable moments. I’d never seen dogs grilling and serving drinks before, but now that I have, I’m jealous my dogs can’t. David vs. Goliath, Tiny Dog vs. Big Door. It’s an epic battle people will remember. And finally, we can see the emotion all over the stoic and unchanging Darth Vader mask in the Volkswagen commercial. The kid’s ability to bring that mask to life rivals only David Prowse (Star Wars nerds will get that reference, the rest of you, Google it).

They Tell A Story: Story telling is as old of an art as, well, art…  The story is what intrigues people, keeps them watching. Some people take way too long to tell a story (Michael Bay, I’m looking at you), others can tell a quick tale in 30 seconds or less. These commercials all have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  A man house sits, throws a party, and is left having to clean up after the dogs decide they’ve done enough. A man taunts a dog, the dog races after him, and gets the treat he deserves. Darth Vader wants to prove his mastery of The Force, he struggles, but is finally able to start a car.

BASED ON LAST YEAR’S AVERAGE (roughly $3 mil a spot), over $18 million dollars was spent to show these six commercials. The companies all believed their commercial was worth it when they placed their $3 million bet (or $6 mil if you’re Hyundai).

Unfortunately, not all gambles pay off. So who is going to roll the dice in this year’s big game? We’ll see, but you can bet that I’ll be right there to comment on those as well.

 Image credit to Ant baena.

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