Super Bowl 46: Great Game; So-So Ads

Feb 6, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

It’s a good thing that this year’s Super Bowl game lived up to its name because the 50+ commercials were mostly just OK.

Dogs and babies came out on top. They were the stars of four of the top five favorite ads in the USA Today Super Bowl Admeter. The M&M commercial ranked 4th.

However, it was a such a mediocre crop of ads this year that more than a few newspapers used the word “Yawn” in their headline of the coverage. The Associated Press report said: “The Super Bowl may have been a nail biter, but the ads were a snooze.”

“What’s notable about this year versus others is that advertisers played it safe. As a result, we saw fewer standouts, but we also didn’t see as many costly mistakes,” said Tim Calkins. He’s clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University who each year leads the school’s Super Bowl Advertising Review.

The panel’s top pick was the M&M ad. CareerBuilder, which ignored criticism over its use of chimpanzees, got a “B” grade from the panel. The USA Today audience ranked it in the middle of the pack.

The company was blasted last year by animal rights activists who complained about the use of chimps, who, they said, are taken young from their mothers and are mistreated or abused as they’re trained for commercial work.

CareerBuilder, knowing it would face another round of negative publicity, opted to go ahead anyway.

“The chimpanzees were brought back by popular demand.  It’s been a very successful campaign that job seekers identify with and act upon,” said Jennifer Grasz, a spokesperson for CareerBuilder.

Last year, the chimp ad ranked sixth in the USA Today poll. This year’s version, in which a human is sent on a business trip with a team of prank-pulling chimps, ranks 26th.

And just in case you were wondering, The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17. The game was a repeat matchup of 2008 when the Giants also beat the Patriots.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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