Potesky. Image: The Ramey Agency

Special to Find It In Fondren (Bob Potesky, The Ramey Agency)

It’s Super Bowl Sunday night.

Advertisers are pacing nervously, doing their pre-game rituals, saying prayers that they’re ready for the national spotlight. The competition for best Super Bowl commercial is on.

At major ad agencies around the country, this is a blood sport—brands will rise and fall; careers will be made and broken. This year, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl costs over $5 million—not exactly chump change. To get your attention, additional millions will be spent casting the biggest celebrities, the priciest songs and feature film-quality special effects.

It’s literally the only time of the year when audiences actually look forward to seeing commercials—the one occasion in which a brand can be absolutely sure it will be
seen. But despite all of the money and attention, only a few commercials shine. The rest get roasted mercilessly in social media or, even worse, ignored.

Here, then, are my highlights and lowlights.

Top 5 Toasts:
5. Danny DeVito as an M&M asking people “Do you want to eat me?” Mr. DeVito could do just about anything in a commercial and I’d laugh.

4. It’s great to see Eli Manning and Odell Beckham in the NFL Super Bowl spot – a “Dirty Dancing” parody that they both nailed. The Ramey Agency has probably produced more commercials with Eli than anyone else. Great guy, great athlete and now, at last, a great actor.

3. Whoa—Febreze gets real with their #bleepdontstink spot. I’m buying the commercial and I ought to buy the product, too. Take that, Bud. Game on.

2. Mountain Dew and Doritos pair up to have Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rap about soda and chips. Funny. Weird. Makes me question reality. In a good way.

1. Tide just did my job for me and made fun of all the other ads. They dominated the night in a way you’d expect from a beer or a car brand. A boring old laundry detergent takes Best of Show? Kudos to them.

Top 5 Roasts:
5. Just before Justin Timberlake’s performance, Pepsi throws a whole lot of money to have the most celebrity-filled commercial of the night in your basic lame ’80s throwback. Then they put Jimmy Fallon in mortal danger by making him drink a Pepsi while clinging for dear life to a sign high over the stadium. I kind of enjoy that part.

4. Dodge Ram uses a Martin Luther King speech to sell trucks. Twitter immediately lights up with people who thought this was tasteless. I’m with them.

3. We discover that Diet Coke comes in Mango. Bleh. And drinking it compels people to dance poorly. Awkward. Maybe I’m not the target audience.

2. Bud Light enters the fray with their “Dilly dilly!” campaign. Medieval soldiers are about to be slaughtered in a tired Monty Python take off. No one dies, but no one in the audience laughs. Budweiser looks at literally hundreds of ideas before they pick a Super Bowl commercial. Yikes.

1. Wow! Celebrity casting gone wrong—this strange, dull commercial stars Dr. Oz, talk show host and snake oil salesman. I keep waiting for a magic age- defying tonic or a secret weight loss formula. But of all things, he was selling Turkish Airlines. Imagine being stuck in a seat next to Dr. Oz on a 10-hour flight to Turkey.

Bob Potesky is Partner/Executive Creative Director at The Ramey Agency. Potesky joined Ramey in 2005 from Young & Rubicam in New York, where he served as creative director for 10 years. He has also worked at J. Walter Thompson, McCann-Erickson and FCB, where he created successful campaigns for American Express, AT&T, DuPont, Kraft and Nabisco. Since joining Ramey, Bob has led major campaigns for Viking, C Spire, BankPlus and Mississippi tourism.

The views expressed in this post are Potesky’s and not necessarily those of Find It In Fondren.

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