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Advertising & Marketing: Special Super Bowl Coverage

Creative Directors Tackle the Ads

January 29, 1998

The Times asked five creative directors to critique commercials shown during Sunday's Super Bowl--the biggest marketing event of the year. Their conclusion: The ads didn't live up to the hype.

Here are their comments:

David Lubars is creative director at BBDO West in Los Angeles, whose clients include Best Western Hotels, Starbucks Coffee and LA Cellular.

* Anheuser-Busch's Bud lizards series was very funny and put a fresh spin on the overused frogs concept.

* The Bud Light department store spot was not only hilarious, but it perfectly captured something every man in America understands: the shopping-as-torture experience.

* The AT&T spot, where the name of the teenage girl's secret crush gets blabbed to the world, was clever and gave you a good feeling about the company.

Advertising & Marketing For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 5, 1998 Home Edition Business Part D Page 5 Financial Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
In the Advertising/Marketing pages on Jan. 29, the names of an advertising executive and his agency were misspelled. He is David Suissa of Suissa Miller Advertising.

* At the risk of sounding nepotistic, I thought BBDO New York delivered with the extraordinarily produced sky-surfing Pepsi spot and the surprising Federal Express test pattern spot.

* My favorite overall was the exploding mosquito Tabasco sauce commercial from E. McIlhenny's Son. It was beautifully done and communicated the product benefit memorably.

* The car commercials [General Motors' Pontiac, Chrysler] were particularly wasteful, each featuring identical footage of cars driving around mountains--who could differentiate them?


David Sussia is creative director of Sussia Miller in Los Angeles. The agency handles advertising for Boston Market, Beech-Nut baby foods and American Honda's Acura division.

A pithy review of the good, bad and ugly:

* Laundry room hysterics that wouldn't let up for Frito-Lay's Doritos: A

* Bird-man duel for Pepsi that soared like the game: A

* Federal Express inside job that sucker-punched us when we weren't looking: A

* A Babe-Reggie-Steinbrenner sendup showing Lipton knows its audience isn't drinking tea: B+

* The Wayans did a way cool thing for Pepsi: B+

* Budweiser's zoology series that mercifully puts frogs, lizards, ferrets and weasels ahead of hops and barley: B+

* Mail Boxes Etc.'s innovation should sell lots of pocket pumps: B+

* A great car ad . . . for Hormel chili: B+

* Oscar de la Hoya's "know when to say when" suggestion from Anheuser-Busch that came four quarters too late: B

* Valiant try by Iomega to make us care about zip drives: B

* Sweet teen romance for AT&T that works sans schmaltz: B

* An elephant fable for Visa ideal for Discovery Channel: B-

* A "Brown Sugar" rip-off for Pepsi's new package that reminded us of how great the original sounds: C+

* Nike's "evolution of skin" spot had the right tone to promote, say, the Bill of Rights: C+

* An overreaching attempt by Holiday Inn to show its improvements: C

* The Mustang crash for Primestar made me feel for the car: C

* A California "It's the Cheese" spot that begs the reply, "No, it's not": C

* The Drew-Carey-looking-like-Barney flop for Nokia could have used a few words: C-

* A cheap commercial/great product embarrassment for Continental Tire: D

* A really important message from Oracle for a really uninterested audience: D

* Intel's confusing whodunit will go down as an Intel whoboughtit: D


Joe McDonagh is creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles, whose clients include Toyota, Diesel footwear and Sumitomo Bank.

* This was a Bud Bowl. Anheuser-Busch's Louie the Lizard has stepped up to a new level, his obsession with the frogs is the stuff. We have people rooting for frogs and people rooting for lizards. Let's see how far this can go.

* Pepsi, Frito-Lay's Doritos and Bud Light did a nice job delivering on unique ideas. The guys enjoying the shopping trip in the Bud Light ad is a spot I wish I had done.

* The simple and original way Federal Express handled their message is worth a nod; it is an old idea freshened for the big day.

There were some bad ads. These advertisers seemed more enthralled with the idea of being in the Super Bowl than the ideas needed to advertise in the game.

* Continental Tire: FedEx gives them a lesson in inexpensive, tried and true ideas.

* Hormel: Is this an ad or a leftover '80s music video?

* General Motors' Pontiac: Wider may be better, but the commercial doesn't come close to being relevant or interesting.

* Auto-by-Tel: A new and interesting service with confusing ads.

* Nokia: If you hire Drew Carey, let him do his thing. The focus was way off.


Larry Postaer is co-founder and creative director of Rubin Postaer Associates in Santa Monica. The agency's clients include American Honda Motor, Arco and Web TV.

* Beyond the final score, the most surprising thing was why so few advertisers understood that the game is largely watched by noisy partygoers. Too many commercials relied on dialogue or droning copy to make their points. So who really heard the lizards' punch lines?

* For that reason alone, I give high marks to the voiceless Federal Express spot. It had fun with the whole specter of ad babble surrounding the event. And it made a strong case for reliability to boot.

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