SuperBowl XLVII: How to blow $126 grand per second.

Everybody’s got their faves from the commercials on the Super Bowl. But let’s talk about the bottom feeders.

(Okay, fine. As for favorites, mine happened to end up pretty far down the list of the infamous USA Today Ad Meter: the spot for Oreos (“Whispering in the Library”) made it to only #26. I also happened to like #20, the silly argument between Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd for Samsung. Both spots had all the right SuperBowl-ness to them while at the same time building their story directly around product benefits.)

Nah, favorites have been done. But what about the bottom feeders?

Calvin Klein Guy in underwear
Anheuser-Busch Black Crown party
Anheuser-Busch Beck’s Sapphire fish singing
Anheuser-Busch Black Crown “coronation” Bar Refeali make out

Between you and me, I sure wouldn’t wanna be the brand manager at Calvin Klein who said, “Trust me, this is a Super Bowl spot.” Fact is, the CK spot would’ve sucked on the local farm prices report. Sue me, but I think fashion is the last great hold-out to good advertising. The whole fashion category still seems convinced advertising has to be flash without substance. As long as this belief persists, fashion brands will continue to be the bimbo of the advertising world.

I’m still scratchin’ my head about Anheuser-Busch’s three crappy spots. A-B usually occupies the top spots of the list but this year they stomped $11 million down a rat hole with three commercials that prove yet again your strategy has to be just right, before you do the creative.  In fact, it’s hard to find any strategy at all in the spot titled (ironically) “Here’s to Taste.”

The opening line? “We summoned the finest of this nation to help us taste and choose a golden amber lager.”

The helpful video shows us that the “finest of this nation” is a fake-roomful of AMW’s from Los Angeles. (AMW’s – “actress-model-whatever.”) Criminy. It reminds me of one of my favorite toasts — Steve Martin in the movie Roxanne: “I’d rather be with you people than with the finest people in the world!”

And yet, even after Anheuser hit bottom with “Here’s to Taste”, they kept digging the rest of their way to China with another commercial further defining “the finest of the nation.”

The VO says: “The loud. … The savvy. … The famous. … It took all of us to taste and choose the new Budweiser Black Crown.”

Seriously? Somebody needs to hang up a sign in Anheuser’s break room that says “Crack is for weekend use only.”

The final spot where A-B blew $3.8 million was for Beck’s Black Sapphire. Here the “idea” was a Pixar-like black goldfish sorta swimmin’ around the bottle. I’m guessing they got to this idea by first seeing the beer as “black gold” and then taking that > > > to black goldfish. (“Dude, a black goldfish. You nailed it!!”)

Typically, I never criticize other people’s work in public. Fact is, I’ve done some pretty miserable work of my own. Still, I’m making an exception of these three spots because Anheuser-Busch, … they should know better.

I’ll also happily make an exception to criticize the annual national embarrassments that are the commercials  from GoDaddy.

Yes, bringing up the rear — the spot with the poorest rating – was GoDaddy.  Once again, they didn’t disappoint and aired an execrable spot in which a curvaceous model French kisses a guy who has the skin condition known as rosacea; complete with the squirm-inducing wet sounds of a serious make-out. This isn’t marketing. It’s a drunk frat boy with $3.8 million to blow. Too bad, especially considering GoDaddy ran another spot that wasn’t about boobs or bad taste; it wasn’t half bad. Go figure.

In any case, there you have it. The five worst commercials of Super Bowl XLVII. They cost $11 million in media alone.

If only they had listened to my marketing plan I could’ve made these companies millions in cold hard cash. Here it is.

“Don’t run these spots.”

Boom. $11 mill, right there. You’re welcome.



  1. Don’t know why I’m bothering to defend them, but I’d say GoDaddy has improved its creative. It may be a frat boy with 3.8 mil, but I wouldn’t say it’s devoid of strategy. For the model and the nerd. Looks and smarts. (we’ll help you get a good looking website and we’ll host it)

    The other GoDaddy Spot I thought was actually kinda funny. “One more of everything sky waitress” I laughed out loud at that line. Maybe I’m dumb. But it had a point too. When you get an idea, get it online (the .co part is a bit absurd). They are a far cry from the just dumb sex appeal ads of the past. Sure they aren’t the greatest spots, but I think the real problem is they did a lot of damage in the past that they can’t seem to undo. We’re trained to hate them. Had those not had Danica Patrick in them and been for another domain registration company (especially the second one) I think there might be a different conversation today.

    And yeah the Budweiser Black stuff was so hollow and god awful. The Becks was better but still crap. What is so stupid about Becks is when InBev got a hold of it they changed the recipe to make it cheaper to produce. Then it tasted like ass. Now they want to make a premium version? Probably just the original version. So dumb.

  2. This must have been a tough column to write with so many to choose from. So many advertisers throw out strategy because, after all, it is the Super Bowl.

  3. This is such a great thought! I (of course) asked my students to bring in their favorite SB spots tomorrow. i didn’t even think about the bottom feeders as you say! I actually think that the list of “not worthy” commercials makes a better lesson for my college students.
    i also feel vindicated as I have been scratching my head over “Go Daddy” as well. I agree the “other” spot was a really great thought. Although how come ALL of the entrepreneurs with ideas were the men (husbands) and not any women (wives)??? Hmmmmmmm………

    • Yeah, there are always gonna be clients like this, who think that any PR is good PR.

  4. Hey Luke;
    While I agree with just about everything you’ve said here, I have to say I’m strangely grateful for that horrendous Calvin Klein spot.

    It’s that sort of mindless tripe that serves as a foil for all sorts of great SNL skits, spoof spots, and other great forms of lampooning.

    (Remember Crispin did that Burger King idea with the Grill cologne?)

    As long as brands like Calvin Klein, Chanel, and Tommy Hilfiger don’t “get it”, those who do will be content to laugh at their expense…


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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.