It was the best of
times, the worst of
times, and a real
puzzlement. The best
was for Super Bowl XLVII
MVP Joe Flacco, the
worst was for whoever
paid the lighting bill,
and the puzzlement
was for what we used
to call the ads; you know, those 30-, 60- or
120-second spots that back in the day encouraged
viewers to go out and purchase
manufacturers’ products. But this year,
that didn’t seem to be the point.
How does Amy Poehler asking a sales
assistant to read “50 Shades of Grey” to
her in a sexy voice help Best Buy sell
televisions? Do showgirls, sheiks and
cowboys charging across the desert actually
tell you anything about the quality
of Coke? What does a horse forgiving
its owner for abandoning it as a yearling
say about the taste of Budweiser? And for
the sake of Pop Warner, how does a ginky
geek being kissed by an obviously highly
paid lady model do anything to advance
the brand of Dumb Daddy (or whatever
the heck that sponsor is called)?
So why did the 70 ads paid for by companies
presumably run by grownups decide
to spend an average of $3.8 million
for a 30 second splash in front of 108 million
You’re looking at it.
It is hard to see what impression KIA was going after with their “Space Babies” spot if they want us to buy their cars.
Product be damned. Increasingly with
Super Bowl ads, it’s all about creating
branding buzz before, during and after the
big game. That’s
why this year,
for the first time,
included a Twitter
hashtag (34) than
a Web URL (28).
And to generate
that buzz, it’s the
editors and post
behind those ads
who are working
the real miracles.
discussed the primary
formula for great editing: B + C = A,
meaning that the juxtaposition of two (or
more) disparate elements can generate a
third, unique idea in the viewers’ mind.
But there is also the primary corollary
of B2 + C2= A2, which raises the concept
exponentially to recognize that nothing,
not even a Super Bowl ad, happens in a
vacuum. So the editor has to remember
that the mindset the audience brings to
the experience (B2) will be impacted by
the creative presentation (C2) to generate
the ultimate impression (A2) that arises
out of their proximity.
Recognizing that the final “editing” in a
commercial can actually be the purview of
producers, writers and agencies as well as
the person running an NLE’s dedicated GUI,
let’s look at some of the top Super Bowl
spots from the editing perspective.
High on most post-game lists was the
“Soul” spot from Mercedes. It begins with
a drab man (Brit actor Sebastian Beacon)
sitting in a dingy French Quarter café. But
as soon as we hear the pocketa-pocketa
of bongos and a “Yow” screamed on the
soundtrack, we know he is in for a devil of
a time. No words reveal the gambit, but by
the time we see Willem Dafoe with sharpened
nails sitting across from Beacon, we
know B2 has been propelled by C2 to tell
the story of a man tempted by something
beyond his grasp even before Mick Jagger’s
voice intones “Please allow me to introduce
Beacon swirls through a fantasy filled
with the likes of Kate Upton, Usher, and gaggles
of girls until he realizes the new Mercedes
CLA is actually within his financial
grasp without needing to sign the devil’s
deed. Not a word about the quality of the
car, and it isn’t even for sale until September,
but the spot generated great A2 buzz.
High on most post-game lists was the “Soul” spot from Mercedes.
On the other hand, it is hard to see what
buzz KIA Sorento was going after with
their “Space Babies” spot if they want us
to buy their cars, but at least in the Dorito’s
“Goat 4 Sale” spot someone is actually eating the product even if they have four
hooves and a tail.
There was no doubt about the intended
A2 that Carl’s Jr./Hardees was shooting for
with their “Sun Tan” titillation featuring bikini
model Nina Agdal glorying in the taste
of a charbroiled Atlantic cod fish sandwich.
Their A2? You can scarf down this kind of
gloppy 500 calorie indulgence and still look
as sleek as a naked gazelle.
But right after Beyoncé’s spectacular
halftime show (and just minutes before the
lights in the stadium blinked out) came the
moment of the day. The words “We wait.
We hope. We pray. Until you’re home again,”
came on the screen signed by the name
Oprah, and we heard the queen of independent
TV say, “There will be a seat left open…
a light left on… a favorite dinner waiting”
over simple shots of people going about everyday
“Because in our hearts, you’ve been
missed,” the VO continued as we see glimpses
of soldiers getting into a not very identifiable
vehicle on their way home. “Half the
battle is just knowing, this is half the battle,”
she says as returning veterans are greeted
by emotional parents and children.
“Because when you’re home, we’re more
than a family,” the soundtrack reminds us.
“We are a nation… that is whole again.”
The end tag billboard shares a USO flag
side-by-side with the Jeep logo before the final
fadeout. That’s the only real brand name
identification in the whole two-minute spot.
The agency that suggested the spot’s
theme was GlobalHue. Josh & Xander from
Radical Media are credited as the directors
and it was edited by Chris Moore at Ringside
At around $130,000 per second just to
get the spot on the air, that’s quite an A2 .
Having spent Christmas welcoming my
nephew home from Afghanistan where he
had served a year as executive officer at an
Army FOB (Forward Observation Base), this
raised the whole Super Bowl XLVII experience
to a much higher level.