I know nothing about adwriting, I’ll make that clear off the bat. But as a writer, I’m fascinated with the advertisement as a short story. I know that advertising is all about selling something, but, in the right hands, it can be transformed in the way of Andy Warhol, and the packaging itself becomes art. If executed poorly, it is a meandering, possibly offensive, or boring 30 seconds, that make you question why you were held captive to something you cannot unsee. There was plenty of that last night. Every now and then there is something that tells a story. A few stood out to me: in the Taco Bell ad, seniors were having the night of their lives, with more than a passing nod to the Cocoon movie. (There is always something delightful about old folk not “going gentle into that good night.”) The VW ad with the Minnesotan with the Rastafari attitude and accent just shied the dangers of co-opting another dialect’s cadences and reminded us that there’s another way to see the challenges of your day. Yes, weak on plot, but the message was infectious and well-told. The Coca-Cola ads were in sharp relief to one another: one relied on grainy real-life footage from security cameras and was a charming glimpse into the small and grand beauty of real life (when so much we witness via the internet in this camera-ubiquitous age is scary and dark). The second ad, Coke Chase, was a slickly-produced, good-looking, adventure story, with competing protagonists seeking the grail and a plot ending determined by viewer votes.
However, overall, the quality of ads was low this year and nothing that holds a candle to my all-time favorite, the Chrysler ad “Imported from Detroit” of 2011. It was not a story, so much as a poem, that captured the zeitgeist of the recessionary times and the grit of Motor City. I’m no fan of Eminem, but his soundtrack from 8 Mile, elevated to new heights by the moving sound of the Selected of God choir, was perfectly chosen.
This is how it’s done:
Here are my favorite 2013 SuperBowl ads. Tell me what you loved or hated, from the perspective of their story:
The Taco Bell seniors: http://bcove.me/g1itt9mk