With the average cost of a 30-second spot exceeding $5 million, Sunday’s Super Bowl came and went with the promise of the year’s most epic ad campaigns able to be contained by the small screen. But with the reputation of some of the world’s biggest brands on the line, how do these impossibly expensive plugs compare to, let’s say, the commercials seen during your local high school’s student news broadcast?
To determine if these major advertisers got their money’s worth, let’s take a look at how this year’s Super Bowl 52 commercials stack up to those featured during Wando High School’s most recent episode of Tribe Talk – including Charleston’s own clothier, ShepGear.
Beginning with a screenshot of the familiar Google search bar, ShepGear’s commercial spot comes at the halfway point of Tribe Talk. Fans and detractors of shows such as Southern Charm and RelationShep will likely recognize this clothing line as the creation of local reality TV star Shep Rose. [content-1] Rose is noticeably absent from the commercial and instead Tribe Talk viewers are soon treated to multiple shots of the brand’s signature line of caps emblazoned with the American flag. We are then introduced to a lineup of student models rocking “DAD BOD” T-shirts. While those of us long past the bloom of youth may feel a sting of resentment to see a group of fit, smiling youths wearing shirts that say “DAD BOD,” we all know that time and slowing metabolisms catch up with us all.
With that brief and tastefully filmed commercial out of the way, let’s see what the world’s greatest ad agencies could learn from Tribe Talk.
Ram Trucks misfire
The first thing that ShepGear and the other Tribe Talk commercial spots get right is managing not to desecrate the spirit and legacy of a Civil Rights leader to sell pickup trucks. While this might seem like an incredibly low bar to set, no one told the folks at Ram Trucks.
Played over images of muddy high school football players and rain soaked rescue workers, the ad features Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Drum Major Instinct” sermon. Delivered 50 years ago to the day, King’s message of service is given central focus in the commercial. But what the ad leaves out of King’s sermon has drawn considerable and immediate backlash.
“Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion,” King said, referring to the inclination to seek greatness through material possessions. “And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it.”
So with this in mind, it’s plain to see that one of the many mistakes made by the Ram ad agency was pulling select lines from a speech that argues against the very basis for their entire profession.
Meanwhile, Tribe Talk’s ad for ShepGear manages to avoid any voice-overs from Gandhi, Mandela, or history’s other great thinkers, and simply shows you that you can order clothes online. Let this serve as a good reminder that sometimes what you leave out of your commercial is just as important as what you put in.
What is Febreze up to?
Another thing that Tribe Talk gets right is their ability to exclude any mention of bowel movements from their program.
Now, not to be prudish, but Febreze’s Super Bowl spot manages to somehow miss the scatological mark. Clocking in at around one minute, the commercial introduces viewers to Dave, an average-looking young man who informs us that his “bleep don’t stink.” Appearing on screen as talking heads, Dave’s parents and those from his past appear in this faux documentary to corroborate his story, assuring us that Dave’s odorless movements have brightened the lives of all those he’s encountered.
As a kicker, the commercial wraps up with Dave curiously studying a bottle of Febreze as he stands in a bathroom. This product is not for you, Dave. It is for other, lowlier humans, dragged down by our own fecal shortcomings.
Diet Coke presents a poor case for a new generation
In order to promote their new line of Diet Coke flavors, the ad team decided to keep things simple. Posed before a bright yellow brick wall, viewers are met by a young spokeswoman. Her initial pitch is cut short as she takes a sip of a mango Diet Coke and falls victim to the rhythm.
As she dances with all the listless, dead-eyed spirit of an overly medicated barista, it’s hard not to compare this young woman to the vibrant youth on display during the ads featured on Tribe Talk.
Whether they are promoting clothing or simply trying to warn their fellow students of the perils of being late for class, these students actually move and speak like people who aren’t suffering from a melatonin imbalance. And for that, and the reasons pointed out before, they deserve some credit – and maybe a few million bucks to produce an ad for next year’s big game.
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