I mean, it looks very slick. It’s the story of a father, and his “journey” with his son, from cradle to teenager. The dad is a race car driver, so he’s often away from home, with his hot rods, and he feels guilty about leaving his boy. (Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle is the accompanying music.) I suppose you could say it’s about – in the sense that commercials are ever ‘about’ anything – the complex relationships fathers have with their sons, particularly when the fathers concerned are heartbreakingly handsome race car drivers in greasy overalls. It’s quite long, this ad, and barely anyone speaks, and at the end father and son have a big hug in the car. But it’s too much! Mawkish, sentimental, unimaginative, confusing – and what does it have to do with Nissan? Obviously they’ve spent a bunch of money on it, and it looks great, but it’s much too sappy. Fire the agency!
Ad rating: 3/10
This insurance ad stars Mindy Kaling and Matt Damon, and is a triumph. “After years of being treated like she was invisible, it occurred to Mindy that she might actually be invisible.”, the narrator intones. Then we see the excellent Ms Kaling, sitcom-style, doing some really funny stuff – sunbathing naked, scarfing a giant tub of ice cream, and going through a carwash sans automobile. Back to voice over: “But Mindy was actually not invisible.”
Then, this: Mindy sidles up to Matt Damon, in a high-end restaurant, closes her eyes, and starts to smells his neck. Lavishly, sensually, vigorously. It’s hilar.
“Whoa. Excuse me?”
“Um. Can you see me?”
“Yes. Yes, ma’am.”
“[Pause.] You don’t just want to kiss, just to make sure?”
“No, sure, sure. I didn’t want to kiss you either, Matt Damon, so…”
So funny! And then the tagline, which joins it all together: “Join the nation that sees you as a priority: Nationwide is on your side.” The best yet!
Ad rating: 9/10
The first ad, shown midway through the first quarter, was Amy Purdy for Toyota. This is a strange ad. Purdy is a Paralympian, and she has prosthetic legs – she had both legs amputated below the knee when she was 19. In the ad, she’s shown skiing, ballroom dancing, snowboarding, modelling, generally being a boss – and driving a Toyota in exotic lcations. The ad’s overlaid with inspirational quotes from Muhammad Ali: “I will show you how great I am.” Purdy is undeniably great, but the link between Purdy and the new Camry is tenuous: it’s only a car! There’s something in there about greatness, and dedication, but it’s elusive.
Ad rating: 4/10
Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel for BMW i3, an electric car. I quite liked this. Couric and Gumbel are seen sitting on the Today show sofa in 1994, in funny clothes from 21 years ago – big suits, idiot colours – being confused by the internet. “What is internet, anyway?” Oh, 1994! You do make us laugh.
The premise is easily enough understood: ideas that seem daft at the time – the internet, get real big in the future. From tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow, etc. And don’t be such a moaning Michael! Believe in electric cars! They’re the future! The ad was spoiled slightly by a lame joke about twerking at the end, but overall, enjoyable.
Ad rating: 6/10
This is funny! This is nothing now: it’s the latest in Snickers’ ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ series, but it’s very well rendered. Danny Trejo plays Marcia, and she’ll all het up cos she noooo had anything to eat. Marcia/Danny “gets a little hostile when you’re hungry” – probably why she slammed that axe through Carol and Mike’s coffee table. But she’s all good once she eats her candy!
Also, there’s a nice little cameo from Steve Buscemi! And shot in quintessential 1970s soft-focus. Thumbs up.
Ad rating: 6/10
Kim K stars in this spoof charity ad, but really it’s for T-Mobile to promote a data-sharing service. She’s really beautiful in this advert, and she’s quite funny, in a self-referential way. “Please: help save the data. Data you paid for that could be used to see my make-up, my backhand, my outfits, my vacations, and my outfits.” Quite good, and she’s amusing!
Ad rating: 7/10
This is an interesting ad for feminine hygiene pads, with a really positive message. In a TV studio, in front of a green screen, some ordinary Americans are asked: what does it mean to do something “like a girl”? The results are predictable, and dispiriting: the contestants run with 10-to-2 feet, become preoccupied with the state of their hair, throw from the elbow. Girls can’t fight, girls can’t run, girls can’t throw. That’s the perception; no one goes against it. Ho hum.
But then the ad takes an interesting turn. “Then we asked young girls.”
Four girls under, say, 10 appear, and they’re just so great. They throw like Fatima Whitbread, and run like Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, and fight like Ronda Rousey. They’re so awesome, and it’s so uplifting: it gives you that funny feeling to see girls doing things so vigorously and skilfully, and so un-selfconsciously.
Then comes Always’ tagline. “A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty. But it doesn’t have to.”
Finally, what does it mean to you to “run like a girl”? Answer: “It means run as fast as you can.”
What a great message. Go Always.
Ad rating: 8/10
Well done to Geico: they’ve discovered a star in Ickey Woods, and they’re milking it for all its worth. This is a really funny ad, and Woods – the former Bengals fullback who played in the 1980s – is a total star: he’s gon’ get some more cold cuts today!
It’s a spoof of a TV cooking show, and Ickey’s showing us his signature sub, ‘The Ickster’. But predictably, and hilariously, he ditches all the ingredients so it’s just the cold cuts left. Lolz. It’s a daft joke, but it’s pulled off with such pizzazz: Ickey Woods shrieks “Whoo!” better than anyone else out there, and he has just the right amount of self-mockery. It shows Geico’s got a sense of humour: and it’s much better than the daft cockney lizard. Good ad.
Ad rating: 8/10
Possibly the most ludicrous ad of the evening. Budweiser has married the fact that people love adorable puppies – don’t we all, eh? – and the idea that Bud, the drink, as in “grab some Buds”, is a homophone of bud, as in friends/pals/amigos/great mates. Thus, they’ve come up with the #BestBuds hashtag, to be used in two ways. Essentially, it’s just an excuse to show some puppies and the famous Clydesdale horses. Also, the music is an acoustic piano version of I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by the Proclaimers! How artless. This ad doesn’t scrimp on the mawkishness, either. Daft, in my considered opinion.
Ad rating: 4/10
Yesterday’s man and Mrs Doubtfire showstopper Pierce Brosnan stars in this peculiar ad for Kia. It’s kind of self-referential, in that Pierce plays an actor being pitched an action movie by a slimy Hollywood agent: but the agent, in an inversion of the convention, is playing the pitch down, not bigging it up. So Pierce is all like: “Oh wow and this is going to happen, and there’s going to be this explosion?” and the agent is like “Um, not quite”, and Pierce is dismayed. But he goes along with it: I guess cos he gets to drive a Kia, which is, like, a total wow, car, or something. Also, there’s a strange joke about fireworks at the end, which is either unfunny or just sexist, or probably both.
Ad rating: 4/10
Some heartfelt music – I believe it’s This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie – and joyful images of our wonderful world: sparkling vistas, towering mountains, majestic rivers, nature. It’s sentimental again! Then the tag line: “The world is a gift: play responsibly.” It’s an advert for a fucking Jeep, not for international socialism! Jeez Louise. These car companies need to get a grip.
Ad rating: 5/10
This was funny! And stupid, but in a good way. Dorks in fanny packs do some lolz dancing against a white background to a daft reggae tune. I don’t really know why, or what the link is between glue and reggae, but it’s legitimately amusing. Maybe they’ve been inhaling a bit too much of their own stuff.
The final frame is so perfect: wife sitting on husband’s knee, on a kiddie’s chair, with the hashtag #winatglue, and the wife utters the line: “Loctite glue saved our marriage”, and the composition is really cool: like a Grant Wood picture or something. Very nicely judged.
Ad rating: 8/10
So bad. Bud Light is not, objectively, an interesting, or indeed appetizing, beverage. I would politely suggest that the core constituency of Bud Light is the frat boy, the dude-bro and the meathead, so the idea, promulgated in this commercial, that one will have these awesome experiences, like doing a human Pac-Man, if only one would go to da club and drink many Bud Lights … it’s just completely disingenuous. Much more likely: go to da club, cause a scene, get thrown out, shuffle home with your tail between your legs. Phoney.