Coming off a big first quarter that featured great car ads from Audi and Hyundai and a Bar Refaeli appearance, (however repulsive you may or may not have found it), I had my hopes up for a big second quarter. But much like the San Francisco offense, there just wasn’t much to see leading up to halftime.
Not that they were all misses. I really liked the Bud Light ad, “Journey” featuring Fake Ryan Gosling, Fake Casey Affleck and Real Stevie Wonder, from Translation in New York. It had a vibe that starts out part “Eyes Wide Shut” and part “Angel Heart,” and smartly played into the voodoo history of the Big Easy. But Stevie as voodoo priest lightens the mood and it finishes with dueling voodoo dolls and the tag line “It’s only weird if it didn’t work.” Agreed. It was a little weird, but I thought it worked.
Another hit for me was the feel good Volkswagen ad from Deutsch LA, “Get Happy” featuring an office drone from Minnesota with a Jamaican accent that picks up everybody’s spirits. This spot drew some heat as being culturally insensitive, but it seems to me that most critics are perpetuating the stereotype that all Jamaican’s are dark skinned. And according to the Huffington Post, the island’s government has embraced the spot for celebrating their cultural diversity. Besides, how can an ad that drops Jimmy Cliff doing a cover of the Partridge Family be bad? “Who want to come with I?” Me want to come. Maybe not to buy a volkswagen, but at least to refer to myself in the third person “I” for the next few weeks.
The spot I found most curious was the Coca Cola ad, “Mirage” from Wieden & Kennedy. While it was a beautifully filmed commercial, they made an interesting choice in casting the spot. They took what I thought were obvious cues from desert wasteland film settings like Mad Max, Lawrence of Arabia and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in casting their teams. But when they chose to cast their forth team based on what I can only assume was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, they played it safe and cast the roles with females in showgirl costume, rather that the drag queen glory of a Terence Stamp look-alike. Am I reading too much into the script? Maybe, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me. If it was a conscious decision, it wasn’t a very brave one from a brand with the good will capital to spare.
For me, the big loser after the second quarter (besides San Francisco’s woeful offense) was Go Daddy. If the aforementioned Bare Refaeli/nerd make out ad didn’t turn you off to the brand, surely this one sealed the deal. Every year Go Daddy takes the tasteless route and pushes the viewer to their website with a double entendre tease that never pays off. This year, in addition to super models and super geeks swapping saliva, they gave us “YourIdea.com,” a bouncing-between-married-couples set up with the stereotypical ever-clueless husbands proclaiming that “nobody else is going to have the exact same idea I have.” Well, I think we all do share one common idea: Go Daddy spots are ponderous.
Here’s hoping for a better second half.