DAVE GUILFORD

Why Super Bowl ads have become awkward

Dave Guilford is enterprise editor of Automotive News.Dave Guilford is enterprise editor of Automotive News.
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We haven't seen many of automakers' Super Bowl ads so far. But we probably will.

The argument seems to be that putting your ad up on the Web in advance is free, so why not get the additional exposure?

True, no doubt. But, for me at least, the flood of online previews last year created an awkward situation on game day.

Many of the spots posted before the game were long versions -- 60-second, 90-second mini-films. And they were generally quite good.

You had the Jerry Seinfeld quest to buy the first Acura NSX, for instance. There was the wild Kia dream sequence, Volkswagen's "The Dog Strikes Back," and Chevrolet's goofy "Happy Grad." The humor had time to develop, moving among multiple scenes, or, in the case of the Chevy spot, just letting a funny set-up develop.

Then came the game itself, with its hyper-expensive advertising slots. Those witty, outlandish 60-second and 90-second spots were crunched down to 30 seconds. It showed.

The pacing became jerky -- 90 seconds of storyline stuffed into a 30-second sack, so to speak. Without a proper set-up, the humor from the longer versions was abrupt, even mystifying… "So, um, why was Jay Leno on top of a Manhattan building in a flying-squirrel suit?"

It appeared that the ads had been developed for the Web, with the Super Bowl version as an afterthought. A very costly afterthought, actually.

Perhaps it's not surprising that the biggest game-day buzz was created by Chrysler with its Clint Eastwood sermonette. That ad, lest we forget, ran at its full two-minute length. And it wasn't previewed online.

You can reach Dave Guilford at dguilford@crain.com. -- Follow Dave on

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