08 February, 2010

New Orleans Saints are Superbowl Champs but what of the Commercials?

A football team embraced by a city as escapism; and for the excitement it provided the residents of New Orleans following the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has now come full circle to offer its hometown the celebration it deserves and desires. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Superbowl XLIV, the 44th such contest of football's conference champions, and sent the French Quarter and the surrounding and still rebuilding areas into a frenzy that's likely the continue well into Mardi Gras.

As much as the spectacle of the Superbowl is remembered for what happens on the field, it gets almost as much attention for what happens in between the action. Commercials, are always a hot ticket and with price tags in the $2.5Million to $3Million range for a spot this year it was up to corporations to deliver catchy, memorable and likable ads. A game that featured two of the league's top Quarterbacks was sure to be a windfall for CBS Corp. (CBS), and early ratings would suggest that's the case. A report this morning puts viewership of the game at a 23 year high. That's a lot of eyeballs watching the players on the field and all those commercials.

Alcohol always seems to go after the comedic bone with Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and its legendary stable of Superbowl spots. The Clydesdale's, the Wassup guys, the Frogs and more have all pushed Budweiser Beer onto the masses for years with recent Bud Light ads becoming the "lighter" touch. This year's game featured the musical technique known as Auto-tune with several men crooning to each other over the phone after getting some Bud Light. The ad also featured Auto-tunes foremost proponent Mr. "I'm In Love With A Stripper" T-Pain, or as he's known amongst the younger hipster crowd, the dude on the [expletive] boat with Andy Samberg.

Motorola (MOT) went for comedy and sex appeal as it showed off its new Android powered smartphone the Devour. Using Google's (GOOG) Android operating system and its own MOTOBLUR interface, Motorola looks to continue the successful smartphone push it has enjoyed on Verizon (VZ) with the Droid. The ad featured a bubble bathing Megan Fox pondering what if any consequences would arise from her sending a photo of herself in the bath. Subsequently men all over the country are instantly distracted and much chaos ensues. The company has even put several out-takes from the ad on its website.

Staying with Google for a moment, the company for the first time has decided to advertise on this big a stage. The results, one part sappy, one part romantic, one part technology and all parts effective for portraying the message of Google being THE destination to find anything. The ad features the main Google search screen as a story unfolds of Boy meets French Girl, Boy searches for ways to impress French Girl, Boy Searches for flights to France, Boy searches for work in France, Boy searches for chapels in France, Boy searches for help building a crib.

Discount Brokerage and Superbowl mainstay E*Trade (ETFC) brought back its popular baby investors with a little twist, female companions and a new catch-phrase "milk-a-holic".

Taken together, the ads this year have according to early reviews been lacking the punch of previous incarnations, but sifting through the mass of advertisements, which are all featured on a special YouTube channel one can still find some that will undoubtedly be talked about over the water-cooler for the week to come.

Disclosure: Author owns GOOG, VZ

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