Tag Archives: Television commercials

Amusing Monday: Super Bowl commercials offer voices from the past

Suzanne Vranica of the Wall Street Journal thought she noticed a trend in this year’s Super Bowl TV commercials. More of them, she said, seemed to be “sobering and heartfelt” rather than funny.

Maybe so, but some of the ads were funny. At our house, we got the biggest kick out of Liam Neeson playing Clash of Clans, an ad for the mobile video game by Supercell.

But I noticed another minor trend among the commercials: the use of historical voice-overs connected to meaningful images. It began with the first commercial after the game started. That ad, for Carnival Corporation’s cruise lines, seems especially appropriate for this blog, because it deals with the human connection to the ocean.

We hear President John F. Kennedy’s voice as he talks about our connection to the sea:

“We have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch —we are going back from whence we came.”

The commercial contains wonderful images, as you can see in the first video on this page. The second video shows Kennedy giving that speech at a 1962 dinner in Newport, R.I, where the president spoke about the America’s Cup Challenge. It was the year Sir Frank Packer became the first Australian challenger for the cup, with his crew aboard the 12-meter yacht Gretel. The dinner was given by the Australian ambassador. A transcript of the speech is available from the website of the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Fitting with Kennedy’s tone, I found “41 quotes about the ocean that will make you want to live on the beach forever.” The inspiring quotes were pulled together by writer Catie Pendergast for the blog “Thought Catalog.”

The commercial for Carnival apparently was selected from among five contenders in an online contest to determine which video would be played during the Super Bowl. The runners-up were also pretty good:

The voice-over approach was continued in the first quarter in a Toyota commercial featuring Amy Purdy, the celebrity who lost her legs to meningitis when she was 19. Amy’s father donated a kidney so she could survive. She then went on to compete in snowboarding in the Paralympics, perform in movies and on television, and take second place in Season 18 of “Dancing with the Stars.”

The commercial shows Amy running, snowboarding and dancing, but especially driving a Toyota. The company claims on its website that “our story is about much more than our vehicles.”

The voice you hear on the video is Muhammad Ali, talking about his upcoming boxing match with George Foreman in 1974. You can see him talking in the fourth video on this page, which offers a dark shot of the speech that some call his greatest ever.

There was another voice-over in a commercial for NO MORE, a campaign against domestic violence by the Joyful Heart Foundation. The audio comes from an actual 911 call, which speaks for itself. The version played during the Super Bowl was 30 seconds long, but I’ve posted the longer 60-second version, because it contains a more accurate editing of the call.

If you’d like to view any or all the Super Bowl commercials, arranged in order, go to iSpot’s “Super Bowl Ad Center.”

Amusing Monday: Ad experts describe most creative ads of 2014

In its annual “Ten Best Ads of 2014,” Adweek magazine praised an eclectic assortment of commercials featuring unusual topics and/or presentations.

While I found no overtly water-related ads this year, a couple of them came close — and I liked them — so I’m featuring them in the two video players on this page. As you’ll see, they are quite different from each other in style.

Adweek’s top winner is sort of a noncommercial, because it is a description of a Super Bowl ad that would have been produced if only the sponsor, Newcastle Brown Ale, had enough money to buy a spot during the last Super Bowl. I featured this ad among other “ads that never were” in Water Ways back on Feb. 10.

You can watch all 10 ads chosen by Tim Nudd of Adweek in his annual review of television commercials for the magazine. As he notes in his story:

“Four spots came from outside the U.S., and a fifth was made without an agency at all. Also, there’s not a single traditional 30-second spot in the bunch, as if we needed more proof that the shape of advertising is changing.”

It’s worth noting that these ads are chosen for their creativity, not for their success in selling products.

If you’d like to view other clever or creative commercials, I’ve put together some additional lists from 2014:

Amusing Monday: Super Bowl ads that never were

In sorting through the Super Bowl commercials that never made it to the television screen, I came to realize that these so-called “banned Super Bowl ads” fall into three categories.

There are those banned because they fall short of network and NFL standards in the eyes of the censors. There are those BANNED because they jump well over the line of acceptable family viewing. Finally, there are commercials that were never banned but are gaining attention on the Internet by just claiming to be.

In most cases, excess sexual innuendo or too much bare skin will result in a rejection notice, but there are lots of other reasons for banning commercials, as we shall see.

Under our water-related theme, a banned commercial for Dream Water (video player) is creative, but it should come with a warning for young viewers.

The original Super Bowl commercial for Soda Stream, featuring Scarlett Johansson, included the line “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi,” which Fox network officials required to be dropped. USA Today has the story.

In last year’s Super Bowl, the approach by Soda Stream was far more entertaining, but it took on Coke and Pepsi in a much stronger way. The whole ad had to be rewritten. See the original dueling soft-drink companies in 2013 along with the revised one with competitors’ names removed.

If that’s not enough controversy over soft drinks, there is also some international politics behind the company. See Sara Stroup’s explanation in Huffington Post.

Other commercials banned from the 2014 Super Bowl include those for Colorado Kush, a marijuana manufacturer, and Daniel Defense, a gun manufacturer.

A thoughtful commercial that could have inflamed the debate over the name of the Washington, D.C. football team was produced for the National Congress of American Indians.

Newcastle, a beer company, took a unique approach by outlining the epic beer commercial the company would have produced if it had money for ads. Instead, Newcastle presents a video about the story that could have been. Actress Anna Kendrick talks about how she wishes she could have been in the commercial and how she can’t even use the words “Super Bowl.”

HLG Studios, an advertising agency, made satirical would-be Super Bowl ads for Monsanto, “Picking up God’s slack;” NSA, “Smile; we know when you’re not;” and Swiffle, “Inequality sucks!”

After all this, you might prefer to watch the real Super Bowl commercials. Anthony Venutolo of The Star-Ledger in New Jersey provides all the commercials arranged by quarter in the Super Bowl. He also rates them as “the best, the worse and the odd.”