Tag Archives: Television

Big Game Ad Recap, 2018!

I usually live stream my impressions of superbowl ads on the Aunt Mary Facebook Page, but this year I decided to actually join the party I was at and jot down the commercials in my kid’s old English notebook.  I enjoyed hearing fellow sportsball fans reactions to the different ads and I found the time to reflect on the offerings made the highs and lows between the ads stand out.

Let’s recap!


Bud Light: I’m probably alone in this, but I’m not a huge fan of the Bud Light Dilly Dilly ads. I respect they are going back to their roots of funny, quotable commercials (Bud-weis-er…Wassup!) But if find these ads to be a bit too contrived, like a former rock star trying to reignite the past…

The first of Bud’s two ads, called “Ye Olde Pep Talk” shows the Dilly Dilly king giving one of the worst inspirational speeches of all time at the beginning of a battle. He finally bringing it back around by telling his subjects their opponents have Bud Light.

The 2nd ad features the Bud Light Knight, an affable guy who’s just down for a good time. The BLK was also seen cavorting in the stands with jolly sports fans during the game.

bud light knight

Michelob Ultra –  Everyone has followed Chris Pratt’s transformation to an adorable goofball with the rock-hard bod, so who could be a better spokesperson for a brand geared towed the carb conscience set?

In ad 1 Chris trains hard for his part in a Mich Ultra ad, only to find out he has been cast as an extra.

Ad 2 shows hard body-gym rats working out while singing Tom T Hall’s classic “I Like Beer.” After a moment you realize Chris Pratt actually IS an extra in the ads, sort of like a boozy game of Where’s Waldo.

The Good

Ram 1500– Actual Vikings headed to super bowl via long ship while towing a Ram behind. They reach Minnesota only to have or turn around as they discover the Vikings aren’t playing. Visually compelling, great music, funny premise. I was both amused by the idea and a little sad at the Viking disappointment. The party I was at loved this commercial. Airing early in the game it set itself up as one to beat.

Tide. Nobody would have blamed Tide Detergent for using the largest TV platform to tell folks to just stop snacking on their pods. They shouldn’t have to make this announcement, but that’s 2018 for you. Instead, they upped their PR game with a series of three fun commercials featuring everyone’s favorite sheriff, David Harbour from Stranger Things.

1st ad – Do you remember that kid in school who would lick things to mark them as theirs? That’s sort of what Tide accomplished in the first of 3 ads to air. Tide declared any part of the Big Game that showed clean clothes was thanks to Tide. Every following commercial, every player, every spectator, every coach.  If you saw clean clothes, that was a Tide commercial. This made it really awkward later when Persil’s ad aired. All I could think of was nice…but Tide got there first.

The 2nd ad for Tide – Can’t get enough of Harbour as he horns in on classic ads, this time on the loved “I’m on a horse” commercial from Old Spice.  A complete turn from the first ad, fun!

3rd,  reminded me of the old school Energizer Bunny ads where the bunny would drum his way through spoof commercials, but somehow Tide improved on the theme! Already made aware by the previous Old Spice spoof, this time Harbour nodded and winked at Clydesdale horses (who did not make a Budweiser ad appearance) and then LOOK, there they are again in a faux Mr. Clean spot.

super bowl tide

E-Trade: I’ll admit to not being a fan of E-trades current campaign that hits a little too close to pre-Great Recession commercials. The entire campaign has a “get yours/easy money” vibe to it.

Even so, I really enjoyed their spot titled “This is Getting Old.” The ad shows a montage of should-be pensioners working a variety of jobs, including Life Guard, Window Washer, Tech Support and Club DJ to the tune of the Banana Boat Song, with the lyrics changed to “I’m 85 and I want to go home.” While the song and visuals are amusing, Etrade finally hard cuts to a card saying “Over 1/3 of Americans have no retirement savings. This is getting old.”  Oh shit.

Verizon salutes first responders – I’m no fan of glurge, but I have to admit Verizon’s “Answering the Call” ad was incredibly moving. Showing images of natural disasters and emergency rescues, the voice over of the ad was of real people thanking the first responders who saved them.  In the last seconds of this full minute spot we are shown the Verizon logo, and their tag of “America’s most reliable network.” Small, but hard-hitting hint that you need confidence in your network when stuff goes down.

The OK

Pringles –  Bill Hader (Stefon from SNL) says “Wow”… a lot. He says it in multiple accents as he marvels at a guy making different flavor profiles by stacking Pringles. This commercial is fine…it’s fine! It shows folks a new way to use their product (we’re like those jelly beans!) which is solid marketing. The one thing that moves this past the forgettable is Bill screaming “Nobody asked you, Kevin!” at a stunt double dangling from the ceiling who also pipes in his appreciation of Pringles. It’s weird, but oddly funny. I can totally see people repeating this catch phrase for some time.

Pringles ad

Fabreze – Bleep Don’t Stink. Pretty straightforward idea from air freshener Fabreze: Here is this one guy whose crap don’t stink, but you have a bunch of folks over eating garbage food and you will wish you had something to make your bathroom smell better.  This ad ran on, but yeah, it sure made it’s point.

Sprint – A scientist is thoroughly mocked by his robot creations for still using Verizon. It’s a striking commercial and the robots are interesting, but what pushed this onto the list for me is the final robot. Unlike the others who are laughing at the scientist’s illogical use of an inferior product, Final robot, who has evidently reached singularity, rocks up to tell the scientist he has a stupid face in a bit that seemed straight out of South Park.

The Bad

Diet Coke “Because I Can” – Maybe I’m just not cool enough for this ad, but the commercial of actress Hayley Magnus narrating her awkward dancing after drinking a Mango Diet Coke left we with my head tilted and my brow furrowed in question. What the hell was that? Evidently it is supposed to be a highly shareable clip, but I can’t see where it will compel anyone to buy a Coke.

Ram Truck – Who could have known that using an iconic speech from one of America’s heroes to sell cars could cause people to be upset? (Everyone. Everyone knew that.) Using a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a commercial for cars is crass, no matter how you hype it. Yes, I understand that Dr. King’s estate had some hand in developing this commercial, but it still fell flat and left a sour taste in the mouth.

WeatherTech –  Twenty of the 30 seconds allotted to this commercial are focused on building a wall. We come to find out it’s the wall to their new building.  Setting aside the potentially devise theme, this commercial is boring. I’m sure you are excited about your new building, but nobody else gives a hoot. While I truly appreciate their devotion to making their product in the US, I felt like they went to a place they didn’t need to be. They make car floormats, not exactly an ensign of national pride, though WeatherTech Head Cheese swears no political message was intended.

This is an ad? 

Must Mention

Amazon – “Alexa Loses Her Voice.” Amazon may be one of the last groups that needs to advertise, they just reported their best ever quarter profits. Still, I appreciate they decided to make a great ad, seemingly just for the fun of it.

In the spot, Alexa, the voice of the Amazon Echo’s digital assistant, loses her voice, compelling celebrities to fill in. I’m not ashamed to say I actually laughed out loud as Cardi B mocked a student for asking about Mars and Rebel Wilson made dinner party guests very uncomfortable.

Doritos Blaze vs. Mountin Dew Ice 

What more can I say but Peter Dinklage is in a rap battle with Morgan Freeman.


Thanks for joining me in looking into the Superbowl of advertising!


Mitsubishi Car Dancing – Music Makes the Ad Series

In 2003 Mitsubishi Tokyo Drifted an ad that perfectly married the form and function music can lend to an commercial.  Set to band Dirty Vegas’s song “Days Go By” the ad for the 2003 Eclipse features the eye catching Pop and Lock dancing of the passenger.

The ad increased product awareness of the Mitsubishi brand in the USA over 10% and opened the door to a new target market – cool young adults. “Sure,” the ad seems to say, “you’ve got a job now, but you can still par-tay!” (yeah, that was super dorky of me.)

Two notes on this ad: 1. There is a guy in the back seat I didn’t notice on my first several views.

2Mitsubishi still
I keep thinking about that old Urban Legend with the guy in the back seat and the cars blinking their lights at you. Maybe the dancing isn’t the only thing killing it here!

2. Dave Chappelle did a fairly dirty parody of the ad. I’ll let you kids seek that out for yourselves, least Aunt Mary’s fine name be sullied. (But it is pretty funny)

As always, be sure to join me on the Ad Story Time Facebook page, or let me know about your favorite ads in the comments below!

My God, That’s Good Lamb!

Kids, the Storytime is a space that welcomes all faiths! Reasonable minds can agree that great ads are here for everyone to enjoy, no matter what day, if any, you set aside to ponder the mysteries of life.

It’s been said that if folks could just break bread together there would be a lot less misunderstand in the world, but that leads to another problem…what to serve? With many creeds’ dietary restrictions this is no easy feat.

Good News! The Aussies have figured it out; lamb is the answer! No beef? No pork? No problem! (You vegetarians can fill up on sides)

The PR ad shows divine figures at a barbecue, mingling with mortals and joking around. Finally they realize that lamb is the one meat they can all agree on. The commercial is fun but at the same time respectful, though there is a slight poke at Scientology. I especially like the appearance by a Jedi.

Still, not everyone’s a fan. The Australian Hindu community has taken issue with the image of Ganesha seemingly drinking wine and eating meat, which are no-nos.

The commercial runs a little long, clocking in at over two minutes, but the in-joke gags give it remarkable rewatchability.

I’m also impressed by the Australian commercials in general. Aunt Mary’s first Friday Ad Spotlight was for the achingly beautiful spot for Boag’s Draft Beer.

Evidently, whatever the Aussies are selling, Aunt Mary is buying. I must be a sucker for that dreamy accent.

Crock dundee
Actual image of Aunt Mary writing this post

Car Commercials Throwing Shade

In 2014 Cadillac released its “Poolside” Ad, featuring actor Neal McDonough’s unapologetic and fast talking tribute to the good life.

Taking great pains to make fun of such goofy things as Europe, bad luck and actually taking your vacation time, Cadillac boldly insists the time is now for the well-off to come out and proudly proclaim what they haven’t really been hiding: “Yo! I’ve got money!”

The first line of that ad asks “Why do we work so hard? For Stuff?” and and finally answers its own question with “Yeah, stuff is good!”

The commercial is slick, smirking, and the patter is so fast-paced and clever it actually has a Gilmore Girls vibe to it. It boldly smacks its chest and dares you to to decline the American dream.

In answer Ford had one response…don’t be a dick.

Opposed to Cadillac’s use of an actor, the commercial for Ford’s CMAX hybrid features “Real Woman” Pashon Murray, founder of Detroit nonprofit Detroit Dirt, an organization that creates urban gardens in order to help keep food local.

While brilliantly matching the Cadillac ad scene for scene, arched eyebrow for side glance, what really is impressive is the stand alone nature of the spot. You need not have seen the Cadillac ad for Ford’s to make sense, but it sure does make an even stronger impression if you have.

While McDonough’s delivery is of mocking and hubris, Pashon’s is more impassioned and hopeful. Furthermore, the only other humans in the Cadillac ad are the presumed family of the speaker who are lounging around a well appointed and so-clean-it’s-sanitized house. The folks in Ford’s spot are at at work in kitchens and gardens literally getting their hands dirty.

Obviously the target markets for these cars are wildly different, which is probably why Cadillac didn’t shout “unfair!” too much. I have to give much credit to Ford’s ad agency (Rogue) for a fast and thoughtful response to a fellow car maker and neighboring company.

Yes, treat yourself and enjoy life, but remember your community…n’est pas?


For more info on this ad battle, see this article from Ad Age

An Ad that Changed the World – Really

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were locked in battle for the presidential election of the US. With two months until election day, LBJ released an ad that would not only lock him in for the seat, but also change the face of political advertising.

Named “Peace Little Girl” it became to be known simply as “The Daisy Ad.” A young girl counts the petals on a flower as the camera comes in for a close up. When the camera reaches just her eye, a military countdown begins ending in a mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb with a voice-over of LBJ speaking about loving each other or perishing together.

While the race was never particularly close, LBJ’s lead widened after the ad aired and he easily won re-election come November.

What makes this ad amazing is two-fold.

  1. It only aired the one time, on NBC during the Monday Night Movie.
  2. It never once mentioned Barry Goldwater’s name, but the message was clear – he will take us to war.

The commercial was created by advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach, who are famous for their simple, yet compelling, graphic-driven ads. One of their most enduring and well known campaigns is for Volkswagen, making the teeny Beetle a hot ticket despite the US culture of huge cars and a not-too-distant memory of WWII.


The girl from the Daisy Ad reemerged in October of 2016 in a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton.

It’s Great Advertising, Charlie Brown!

You guys, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” is on TONIGHT! What’s more, this is 50th anniversary and I’m totally geeking out. I love “Great Pumpkin.” It’s sweet and classic and they say “tricks or treats.” But there is another reason why I’m so fond of the show, watching “Great Pumpkin” is where I realized that maybe I enjoyed advertising more than the average kid.

You see, for me Peanuts holiday specials and their years-long sponsor, Dolly Madison, (makers of fine snack cakes) are inextricably linked. 1980’s Aunt Mary greeted the Dolly Madison ads as a welcome part of the show, an old friend that was as much a part of the tradition as every pumpkin in the patch or ghost costume.  Even now when I watch a Peanuts show I have a deep sadness that they no longer run the sponsor card for Dolly Madison. “Can’t they just add it in for nostalgia’s sake?” I think, even though I know they can’t.

When “Great Pumpkin” first aired in the 1960’s, the opening sequence included a shout-out to their sponsors. The nod was edited out for later viewings, though Dolly Madison continued sponsoring the show into the 1980’s.

Dolly Madison used the Peanuts characters in their advertising and packaging from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Hostess, makers of Dolly Madison cakes, announced plans to stop producing snack cakes in 2012, though subsequent communication indicated a plan to relaunch in the future.

Happy watching! May your pumpkin patch be sincere and your rock treats be few.

Aunt Mary’s Least Favorite Ad

As an ardent lover of advertising, I truly respect the skill that goes into crafting a spot that reaches a target market and speaks to their sensibilities. I also understand that not every ad is meant for every audience. It’s simply impossible to create a commercial that will vibe with everyone. But every once in a while I look at a commercial and wonder what the hell they are trying to do.

This commercial for travel company Kayak.com ignited a burning hatred in me I really can’t compare to any other ad. Yes, even more than the Charmin Bears. I apologize for the low quality of the video, it’s certainly the best one I could find leading me to wonder if Kayak is scrubbing the internet of its presence.



Sam and Lisa West are champion dancers in a style called Shag (pause for giggling). Clearly they are wonderful dancers who have worked hard at perfecting their art.

That doesn’t stop me from hating this commercial.

As wonderful as they may be (and I’m sure they are generally delightful), I find them to be the least charismatic spokespeople I have seen. Not only do they seem uncomfortable having to act while dancing, I feel like they were handed some really crappy lines to begin with. The entire ad feels off and weird and all too precious.

Additionally, Spokespeople generally have a built in fan base and a wide appeal. These folks are truly obscure to the population in general, leaving viewer to wonder what is going on, who these people are and why should we listen to them.

The ad starts off with Sam enthusiastically proclaiming how he misses shiny floors (what?) He goes on to expound on the wonders of Kayak.com (sounds good) then he makes a hard turn to the camera, breaking the 4th wall, and yells “Tip Tap Time!” (Again, What?) Lisa instructs him to do the “Wet Dog Wiggle” (huh??) Then they shuffle up to the reception desk where Sam hits the bell with his foot, despite the hotel employee being right there (gross.) She doesn’t seem too impressed with them.


This is also such a departure from Kayak’s usual advertising of awkward people looking for travel accommodations in visually interesting ways.

Or is it?


Despite repeated watching of the ad, I’m still not sure why it has struck such a white-hot hatred in me. Maybe it’s because so many companies use amazing spokespeople to their advantage such as Eminem in that brilliant Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” ad. Maybe its because it seems to have sucked out all the joy and excitement that can come from a great trip. Maybe it’s because I feel if you are going to ask people to listen to your message, it better be on point; if you’re going to ask someone to represent your company, you better make them look great.

I don’t know, but I do know a crappy commercial when I see one.