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Why Super Bowl Ads Are Getting Worse


Credit: Volkswagen


People are searching for reasons to explain the trend of increasingly boring Super Bowl ads. Some think it’s the lack of the surprise factor. After all, many of these commercials are available online, sometimes weeks or months ahead of the big game.

Not sure I’m buying that explanation. One of my favorite ads of all time is the one starring the little kid in the Darth Vader get-up and the dad with the key-fob car starter. I must have seen that spot 100 times and it still makes me laugh.

Want to know why the ads are getting worse? Here’s an answer: they’re ill-conceived and poorly written.

I’m not sure the correct people are creating and approving these ads. For instance, what’s the target demo for (One study I read said 51% of apartment dwellers are under 30 and 74% are under 44.) And the ad featured 63-year-old actor Jeff Goldblum and the theme from a sitcom that was launched in 1975?

And, oh yeah, it wasn’t compelling. Not even a cameo from fading hip hopper Lil Wayne could save the poor concept from finishing 29th on USA Today’s Ad Meter rankings for Super Bowl 50 spots. And, by the way, the only factor that prevented it from ending up far lower was its top rating with 65+ viewers, who scored it WAY higher than younger demos.

Take the “PuppyMonkeyBaby” spot. Please. That was the odd ad for which Mountain Dew shelled out $5 million per play in Super Bowl 50 to push its KickStart line of energy drinks.

The spot ranked 55th out of 63 commercials that aired in the 2016 Super Bowl. It scored low on Ad Meter with all age groups, but the lowest numbers it received was from 21-34 year-olds. PuppyMonkeyBabyBust.

Want more proof that it’s the writing and concepts that are failing? How about the ad for Squarespace? It featured one of this era’s funniest and hippest comedy duos, Key and Peele, but it wasn’t funny.

What were the folks from Squarespace thinking? That Key and Peele’s mere presence would be enough? That their cachet with young hipsters would drive business their way? Not if the spot’s not funny.

All the star power in the world can’t save a bad concept and poor writing. Just ask the creators of movie bombs like Ishtar, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty slogging their way through scene after ugly scene on the way to box office disaster.

The Key and Peele spot for Squarespace, a great company which offers sharp website designs, missed by a fraction of a point the dubious distinction of landing in the Bottom 5 on the Ad Meter rankings.

Who’s in charge of these ad campaigns? The same NFL player personnel experts who decide that Johnny Manziel would be a wise draft choice?

Dave Coombs needs writers for his lousy weekday morning radio show on 100.7 FM WUTQ.

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