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Hi. My name is Jim and I’m addicted to March Madness. There… I said it and I’ve taken the first step to recovery. For 3 weeks every spring, I have a lot of trouble thinking about anything else. I’m not proud of it and my wife’s not happy about it.

So in keeping with the theme, I’ve put together an Ad Madness tournament, pitting 32 of the best ad campaigns of all time. Over the next 4 days, I’ll break down each region’s matchups and pick a winner. Next Friday, I’ll narrow things down and pick a winner for the tournament.

Like Jimmy V used to say, “This tournament is about one thing: survive and advance.” I’ve tried to limit entries to one campaign per product. (You could to a whole tournament with just Coca-Cola campaigns.) Just like in the tournament, with a limited number of spots, your favorite ad might not make the big dance. Feel like I’ve made an unforgivable omission? Did I give your favorite ad the shaft? Want to just lash out while hiding behind the anonymity of cyber space? Drop me a line and tell me all about it at [email protected]

So with that, let’s take a look at the first round matchups in the Food & Drink Region, being played in Des Plaines, Illinois, home of Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s Franchise:

1) McDonald’s “You Deserve a Break Today”
vs.
8) Burger King “Have it Your Way”

McDonald’s is the 800lb gorilla in this tournament. Over the years, they have created an entire world of advertising characters led by the redheaded harbinger of high cholesterol himself, Ronald McDonald. They have one of the most recognizable icons in advertising, the golden arches. Their campaigns consistently have smart copy and catchy jingles. (I can still tell you how to make a Big Mac, and that jingle hasn’t run in years.) On the other hand, Burger King comes into the tournament with a recent history of scattered campaigns, none of which seemed to gain any traction. (Hootie in a cowboy outfit anyone?) But in the 70’s they had a rock-solid campaign with a solid point of differentiation, that they would make your burger the way you wanted it.

Winner: McDonalds in a rout.

4) Coca-Cola “Have a Coke and a Smile”
vs.
5) Maxwell House “Good to the Last Drop”

Mean Joe Greene faces off against The Wicked Witch of the West in this huge first round match up. The Joe Greene spot is a perennial favorite on top ad lists. It not only makes use of a huge sports icon of the time, but gets beyond the pigeonhole of sports marketing with a warm and fuzzy end that makes non-sports fans say “awwwww.” On the other side, we have an ad that you just couldn’t make today. Ten seconds in, the husband takes a cheap shot at his wife’s coffee, in public no less. The pained look on the wife’s face is so sad you have to laugh to keep from crying. (And you can almost here her thinking “You think it tastes bad now, wait until I add antifreeze to your mug tomorrow, you bastard!) Fortunately a 500-year-old Margaret Hamilton comes to the rescue with a cup of Maxwell House that makes everything better. And isn’t that how every ad should work?

Winner: Coca-Cola in a nail-biter.

3) Wendys’ “Where’s the Beef?”
vs.
6) Life Cereal “Hey Mikey”

Wendy’s had the catchphrase that was on everyone’s lips and this ad made them a force in the burger wars. As much as I love a commercial featuring a pair of kids with speech impediments (something think you couldn’t get past a focus group these days), not even Mikey liked his chances here.

Winner: Wendy’s

2) Pepsi ‘Pepsi Cola Hits the Spot”
vs
7) California Milk Processor Board “Got Milk?”

This is one of the best jingles in advertising history. (Pepsi-Cola hits the spot Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot Twice as much for a nickle, too Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.) Pepsi takes a 2 seed in the tournament, but they get matched up against the minimalist genius of the milk moustache and the and the 2 word poetry of “Got Milk.” Bottom like: The ubiquitous milk campaign has perfected the celebrity endorsement and anyone who remembers the Pepsi jingle is in their late 60s and probably doesn’t read many blogs, so…

Winner: Got Milk?

Tomorrow – The Transportation Region

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