Super Bowl Ad Review 2013.

THE BIG TEASE.

If you believed all those teasers leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, something big was coming on 2.3.13. If you’re like me, you were disappointed in a big way.

In a trend that started to really pick up steam last year, it’s no longer enough to create a hysterical, tear-jerking, patriotic or over-the-top, special effects-laden spot that lands you on the top ten list and has people talking at the water cooler for weeks afterwards. You now have to “get your $4 million worth” by drumming up as many views and likes as humanly possible before the thing even airs.

This raises the bar of expectations for Super Bowl ads even higher than it already is. Which is fine if your spot delivers. But much like the 49ers’ offense in the red zone, too many spots failed to do so.

THE OVER-TEASERS.

Samsung's teaser with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen was hilarious, and I for one was looking forward to what those two brains would come up with. Unfortunately, save for the LeBron cameo, the ensuing spot was just more of the same banter, and twice as long. Sure, it was funny to see those two ripping on all the clichés of Super Bowl advertising, not to mention each other, but the whole thing felt like a bit of a cop out to me. We’re too cool for the Super Bowl, yet here we are on the Super Bowl. 

Volkswagen‘s “C’mon Get Happy” teaser starring quasi-famous Youtube celebrities was fun and certainly buzz-worthy. But when they followed it up with white guys doing borderline offensive Jamaican accents, they garnered the exact opposite kind of buzz. 

Priceline was one of the first out of the gate with an elaborate prequel teaser in which we learned that Shatner’s daughter spent her childhood training with Zen masters on the art of the deal. Interesting set-up, but the spot that came after seemed like an afterthought at best.

THE UNDER-TEASERS.

On the other hand, a few brands actually set low expectations with their teasers and over-delivered with strong in-game spots. 

Tide led with a vapid “Stain Savers” infomercial spoof, but they followed it up with one of the best spots of the night–the Joe Montana Miracle Stain. Mercedes Benz’s teaser was pretty bland other than hinting at something devilish to come. But the spot, starring Willem Dafoe as Satan, was well done and actually delivered a clear message about the car, even if it did follow the fairly well worn “Dream Sequence” formula.

THE NO-TEASERS.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer my Super Bowl spots to come more out of the blue­­, to hit me in the moment and capitalize on the context of watching the game in real time, rather than online in the days or weeks before or after the game.

That’s why spots like the Wheat Thins Yeti and the Axe Astronaut were some of my favorites. They didn’t try too hard, but they worked. I also enjoyed Audi’s prom dust-up, whose geeky hero seemed somehow noble given all the buffoons and celebs parading about in almost every other spot.

And finally, the return of the Budweiser Clydesdales was a much-welcomed surprise. I totally appreciated the fresh twist they gave it by focusing on the relationship between horse and trainer. It was truly the highlight of the evening. And thank you, Budweiser, for sparing us a teaser showing the live birth of the foal featured in the spot. (Although we both know you thought about it.)