Best Super Bowl Commercials – 2014

Header Image Best 2014 Super Bowl Commercials The advertising theme of Super Bowl XLVIII (48) was storytelling. The ones that did it best were the ones that did it quickly, like Hyundai, Cheerios, and Wonderful Pistachios.

This year’s Super Bowl was a lot more understated, with less of an emphasis on showy ads or slapstick humor. That’s not to say either of those things were absent, but that there were less of them than in years past. And, if I’m being honest, I felt this was a fairly weak year, ads-wise.

But, there were a handful of ads that I felt worked for a variety of reasons, so I’m going to talk about them:

1. Hyundai “Dad’s Sixth Sense”

This is my favorite overall ad of the year. In a lot of ways it exemplifies the tone of the year by being light-hearted and telling a story about a dad & his son. As I kept thinking about ads, this one kept coming to the front of my mind and while it’s not as funny as the VW ad, or as family-focused as the Cheerios ad, it tells a sweet story and explains a Hyundai USP.

As someone who spent months thinking about car technology working on a Nissan campaign, I know how difficult it can be to explain innovation eloquently, and this ad did a fantastic job of explaining—a no doubt a super-complicated technology—automated-braking in an easy to understand way.

2. Volkswagen “Wings”

Not unlike how Hyundai took an interesting approach to explaining one of its USPs, VW did a good job of getting to the idea “more Volkswagens get to 100,000 miles than other cars” in a funny way. Plus, in an otherwise soft year, it was nice to get some old-fashioned physical comedy.

3. Cheerios “Gracie”

Beyond this being a cute father-daughter moment, I really like how the Cheerios play a major role in the ad’s story. You can’t tell your friends or family members about why you like the ad without mentioning the Cheerios themselves.

Also, I love that Cheerios responded to the racist crazies that made them shut down the comments section on an earlier ad that focused on this family by making another ad with the same family and spent $4M+ to get it into the Super Bowl.

4. Wonderful Pistachios “Stephen Colbert”

What I think is really great about this ad was that WP did something really interesting by splitting their 30-second buy into two 15-second spots, split up by a 30 spot for H&M. It was attention-grabbing because of the non-standard time units, and the joke is amplified by the gap.

Once again, like the Cheerios ad, you can’t tell anyone why you liked this ad without saying “pistachios.” Granted, in this case, its slightly less strong because you can get away without saying Wonderful Pistachios.

And that’s where my list ends. It feels weird to say, but out of 57 ads, those are really the only ones I cared enough to recommend.

That being said, there are a few ads I personally didn’t care particularly strongly about, but are worth discussing:

Budweiser “Puppy Love”

After last year’s super-sweet “Brotherhood,” to me “Puppy Love” doesn’t add anything to that story or universe, so I’m not going to link to it, but it won the USA Today Ad Meter so I thought I’d mention it.

 Budweiser “Hero’s Welcome”

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, like most of the heart-having world, I am particularly sensitive to soldiers’-homecoming stories and on that measure this spot hits right where is seeks to. And, I think it’s actually really nice that Budweiser did something decent for that soldier and that they spent a few million dollars to thank the troops on a national stage like the Super Bowl.

But, on the other hand, for those same reasons it seems a little manipulative to use something like serving men & women to associate that positive feeling to their almost entirely unrelated brand.

Audi “Doberhuahua”

Sometimes it’s OK to enjoy dumb comedy. Sort of like fast food. And I think this is dumb fun in the best way. That being said, I actually think they pulled off the simple funny idea of “chihuahua + doberman= potentially disastrous combination” as a way to explain why mass appeal isn’t Audi’s style.

Doritos “Breakroom Ostrich”

So, technically this ad didn’t run. It was, however, one of the five finalists for this year’s Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” competition, so that’s good enough for me. It’s here because I think it’s a good example of a simple idea, well executed. Because, even though you can see the joke coming a while away, it still gets you at the end.

The Secret Behind How Ashley Mardell Got to Be So Awesome. Or: The Importance of Hustle

Picture of Ashley Mardell

Ashley Mardell | Image Credit: YouTube Personalities

So, I watch a lot of content on YouTube and recently (I think a few months ago) found the awesome Ashley Mardell (HeyThere005/@AshleyMardell). Now, normally, I would be happy to just say “Go subscribe to her!” and move on. But, I had a dumb thought about her that relates to two things that are important to me: social media success and influencing change.

My dumb thought: “How did she get to be SO GOOD at vlogging so quickly!?”

Now, with hindsight, the answer (and my logical flaw) seems obvious, but I think the details are worth discussing.

The important details involve two big ideas:

  1. People think the information they have is the important information
  2. Success virtually always comes from HUSTLE

In Re: #1 – This involves the “…so quickly!?” part of the quote. It didn’t happen “quickly.” Or, more accurately, it didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it did.

See, I briefly fell into logical trap that her content had begun roughly around the time I became aware of it. I had done some research by watching a few videos that had populated in the ‘related videos’ section, but those only took me back a few months. So, up until recently, that was all the information I had. Therefore, as is common, that became the frame through which I perceived her content. “How recently she started vlogging” became an amplifier for how great I thought that content was.

It is important to keep in mind that not all information is created and received equally. More often than not, people allow the information they have fill the gap left by information they don’t. So, if you want people to have certain information, be sure you provide it in a way that is obvious and accessible.

In Re: #2 – This involves the “…SO GOOD” part of the quote. In reverse order of importance, I think the answer is: natural talent, a genuine passion for making content, and hustle. And, by “hustle” I don’t mean selling, I mean putting in work.

This is the part I missed at first. The nearly 200 videos on her channels (not counting collabs that ended up in other places.) Hours of content that are the product of hundreds of hours of editing. After 30 videos you can begin to hear her ‘vlogging voice’ and closer to 75 it becomes a roller coaster that only goes up. (I think she’s got what it takes to be a million+ subscriber YouTuber if she wants to be.)

I think we are encouraged to look for the instantly successful, and encouraged to reverse-engineer that story onto successful YouTubers whenever possible. And, I think that’s why there was a delay in my appreciation of Ashley’s work ethic; because I wasn’t encouraged to look for it.

Much like they way that “eat less, exercise more” is the not-glamorous-but-effective truth behind weight loss, I think “make content, regularly” is the truth behind being successful on YouTube.

However, because it is less glamorous, it gets talked about less, which I think is a shame. Because, I think creators like Ashley should be valued for the awesome content they create AS WELL AS the effort that goes into that content.

By: James Chamberlain

People will always find a way to tell stories. See: Vine

Vine Storytelling Header

Credit: mashable.com

I think it’s one of those fascinating truths about human nature: people will always find a way to connect, and they will always find a way to tell stories. No matter how much time allotted or space given, people will humanize technology.

So, two things inspired today’s post: first, I found myself burning time on Vinepeek again today and second, I saw this article about Khoa on Mashable.com.

If you didn’t feel compelled to click the Vinepeek link, a quick summary: Vinepeek shows every public mini-video posted to Vine in real time, continuously. It’s a random stream-of-consciousness view into Vine users’ lives, at 7-seconds a pop.

I could (and might) write a whole post about the ways that Vinepeek provides interesting insights on a variety of topics, but today I’m going to just focus on storytelling.

While, at any given moment there is a steady stream of random vines, without fail you will soon see a story being told. While a vine can be simply a short video, it can also be stop-motion. It’s in the stop motion that you see all kinds of 7-second movies.

It’s these 7-second movies that I find fascinating. This was not how Vine was “intended” to be used, but people found a way to make art. Enter Khoa. He makes amazing stop-motion artwork on Vine. With just paper, Vine, and a boatload of creativity, he found a way to tell compelling stories in a minimalist environment.

I think Khoa, and Vinepeek serve as a great reminder that behind all of the technology online, there are people looking to connect with one another and tell stories.

By: James Chamberlain

iPhone Predictions Image

The 3 Horsemen of the Phonecalypse: James’ iPhone Predictions

iPhone Predictions Image
So, this is my official predictions for today’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event. After numerous discussions, and tons of speculation, I decided that I’d put my money where my mouth is and put into writing, for all the web to see, my official predictions for the new iPhones. (A quick disclosure note, a lot of these ideas are not purely my own, but rather my predictions are a collection of ideas presented to me by multiple people and multiple blogs. Engadget and BGR especially.)

Update after event: So, that was disappointing…I mean, it’s cool I was so right about the iPhone 4 & 4S, but it’s a bummer Apple didn’t announce their future-focused phone. For the first time since it’s introduction, a new iPhone is totally average (or below-average) compared to its rivals. Anyway, the things in green are things I was right about and the things in red are the things I was wrong about, and orange is almost. And, the iPhone 5 is coming, so I’m just striking it out for now.

  • There will be 3 iPhone models being sold starting today.
    • The iPhone 4 (now priced $99)
    • The iPhone 4S (priced $199)
    • The iPhone 5 (priced $299)
  • iOS 5 will be made available (Next week is close enough)
    • “Assistant” will be announced (It was called “Siri”, but whatevs, close enough)
  • iPhone 4 Changes
    • None. (Price?)
  • iPhone 4S
    • Thinner than iPhone 4, but similar body (think iPod Touch)
    • 3.7″ Screen (My point was that it wasn’t going to be 4″, so I’m giving myself half credit here.)
    • A5 processor
    • 3G (I don’t call 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ 4G)
    • 8-Megapixel Camera
    • iOS 5
  • iPhone 5
    • Thinner than the iPhone 4, but wider
    • Larger, rectangular, home button (with touch sensitivity?)
    • 4″ Screen
    • A6 Processor
    • 4G (21.1 Mbps HSPA+ / VZW LTE / WiMax)
    • 8-Megapixel Camera
    • iOS 5

So, if count my iPhone 5 predictions, my score is: 10.5/20 (53%), but if you don’t, my score is 10.5/13 (81%). And, I plan to come back when the iPhone 5 is announced, and be proven right on those things :p

By: James Chamberlain

Not The iSlate: James’ Tablet Predictions

tablet_predictions

So, I’ve been following the coverage of the infamous Apple tablet since, well, before the iPhone if we’re being completely honest, but there was something about the beginning of this wave that made me believe there was an actual product in the works.

Anyway, after numerous discussions, and tons of speculation, I decided that I’d put my money where my mouth is and put into writing, for all the web to see, my official predictions for the forthcoming Apple Tablet. (A quick disclosure note, other than the first point, a lot of these ideas are not purely my own, but rather my predictions are a collection of ideas presented to me by multiple people and multiple blogs. Engadget and TUAW especially.)

Update after event: Well, that was interesting. Anyway, the things in green are things I was right about and the things in red are the things I was wrong about, and orange is almost.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • It’s really NOT going to be called the iSlate. I have a couple of reasons for saying this, the first of which is that “iSlate” sounds dumb. Really, it does. Plus, and no doubt more importantly, the last iDevice was the iPhone, which was introduced three years ago. Between the Touch, the Air, and the (apple)TV, I think it’s pretty safe to say that iNaming has died. (Well, so, iNaming didn’t die, but at least iSlate didn’t happen…)
  • It’s going to have a 10″ screen. One of the earliest and most recurring rumors was a 10-11″ screen. Plus, someone brought it to my attention that the Kindle has a 9.7″ screen. Case closed.
  • It’s going to cost $999/699. (Wifi+3G Prices: $629/729/829) As soon as I knew that the screen was going to be 10″ I felt that it should sell for $750. I think at that price point it could sell like hotcakes. I felt (and still feel) that for that it could beat the iPhone’s numbers in a heartbeat. However, I had all but let that idea go when lo and behold on TUAW I read this, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see…a $699 deal for anyone who signs up for a two year data plan at, say, $39.99/month.” Bingo
  • It’s going to have a brushed aluminum casing. Just like the Macbook Air. Nothing more interesting to say. Oh, except I also think it might have a little drop-down usb/power/microdvi shelf like the Air too.
  • It’s going to have a tactile, multi-touch keyboard. Like this. It’s pretty clear something needed to be made above and beyond virtual keyboards like those found on the iPhone, Droid, etc. to be used in a more intensive environment, and the above patent seems right up that alley.
  • It’s going to have data roaming capabilities. Wi-Fi ain’t gonna cut it. Yes, it will also have Wi-Fi, but it’s going to need to do more.

So, those are the major predictions. The type I’d be willing to bet large amounts on, the one’s I’d agree to eat hats/other accessories if I were found to be wrong. These next few are strong hunches that I think will pan out:

  • It’s going to run a modified iPhone 4.0 interface. More than a few people have made strong cases that for what the Tablet is going to be asked to do, it’s going to require something with substantially more oomph than the iPhone’s got. So, while there might be some similarities, I think the Tablet will be clearly be running iPhone 4.0+
  • It’s going to be on Verizon too. The Verizon iPhone (or ViPhone) is almost guaranteed to be just around the corner, and so it might be worth it to Apple to get a head-start on making friends. Plus more than one analyst predicts a Qualcomm chip in the tablet, and Q-comm is synonymous with CDMA(And CDMA=Verizon..also Sprint, but Big Red seems more likely).
  • We’re going to figure out what the Lala and Quattro acquisitions were all about. I think there’s going to be some cloud-related-stuff launched or previewed. Oh, and iLife might make its way to the cloud too.

That’s it. Those are my predictions. Now that I’ve got that off my mind, I can simply relax and wait for Wednesday.

Feel free to leave a comment with what you think about my predictions. I’ve put considerable thought into them and am pretty sure I’m right, but there’s a good chance one of you is smarter than me and I’d love to hear a compelling argument against anything I’ve said. Or, congratulations are always welcome too :p

(Final Tally: 5.5/9 aka 61% overall, and 4.5/6 aka 75% for major predictions. Which, in my opinion, isn’t too shabby)

By: James Chamberlain