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Best And Worst TV Commercials?

Topics: Popular Media | Add A CommentBy admin | February 13, 2010

Is it a good commercial because you like it, or because it does the job it’s supposed to do?

As I mentioned recently, it’s odd that after years of dodging TV Commercials, now we go looking for them, and put them in best ads and worst ads collections. Especially around Superbowl time, many of us seem to end up in more casual conversations about commercials that end up in a YouTube search than we’d care to admit. Which highlights an interesting fact: most “best of” lists are really ratings of the commercial’s likeability, not whether or not it’s a “good” (i.e.: effective) commercial. Let’s ponder a few examples, and then I’ll offer up my own best & worst for your consideration. A commercial that often makes the “worst” lists is the one for that toenail infection product that you can’t remember the name of. I’d argue that it was actually a really good commercial; even if you don’t remember the brand name, I’d bet the next time you have a toenail infection, you’ll look for the product on the shelf. Along the same lines in terms of memorability, but lacking a likely customer conversion, is the this high speed Internet ad from 2007. Several friends mentioned this recently as a memorable ad, but even with only three likely choices, no-one could remember if it was an AT&T, Comcast, or Verizon ad. So if anything, it was only really promoting “high speed Internet”. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Google Parisian Love ad. This one makes a lot of “best of” lists, but in my opinion is utterly ineffective. If you don’t already use Google, it’s probably because you’re loyal to your Yahoo or Bing homepage for whatever reason, and certainly aren’t going to turn around and go digging through your browser settings to change your homepage after seeing the ad. For me all it did was creep me out slightly. I think they should’ve kept going and shown searches for funeral homes with a catchy “Google: Cradle To Grave” pitch. Which highlights the next important factor: quality & impact vs placement. That romantic Google ad was placed in a Superbowl broadcast, of all places, which on the surface makes little sense. Historically, it was fairly easy to argue that placement was as – if not more – important than the quality or instant impact of an ad. With the continuing evolution of new media however, this becomes a much more complicated equation. Given the dynamic and interactive transaction most of us pursue when pondering a purchase, the broader reach and relationship-building of an ad campaign is really more important than the TV commercial itself. To illustrate, below are my two picks for worst and best campaigns to highlight what I’m talking about. First up is this spot for “First Else”:

First Else – My Pick For Worst Campaign

A very stylish ad, but for what? A new Matrix-like sci-fi film? A political campaign? A web service? Oh. Maybe it’s a phone! As a small-time content creator that often works on my own with almost no budget, I’m often astonished by what gets produced by a team of creatives with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment and perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions in production and placement dollars available. The greater problem with this First Else spot is that (at least as of this writing) it is exactly the same thing you find at their web site. Except on the site it loads with a massive, browser-crashing Flash file that makes all their talk about “technology making our lives more difficult” uncomfortably ironic. Much more effective on several counts, in my opinion, is the Embrace Life spot below.

Embrace Life – My Pick For Best Campaign

Not only does it rather brilliantly convey its message, it does so very simply, and probably on a miniscule production budget. The associated web site isn’t terribly impressive, but it likewise does its job with minimal fuss.

What do you think? USA Today’s Ad Meter is dial-group generated roundup of the “best” Superbowl spots. Have a favorite of your own? Feel free to share. Here are the spots mentioned above:

Lamisil’s Digger the Dermatophyte Spot

Feeling of Fast High Speed Internet Commercial

Google’s Parisian Love Ad