Best Super Bowl Ads #1: “Gracie”, Cheerios
Every so often an advert family comes along which resonate with the viewing audience. From the long-running BT families of the 80s 90s and 2000s, to the 42 “Oxo family” adverts which kept us interested for over 16 years, sometimes Ad men just shrike gold in creating a series which just works.
General Mills, owners of the Cheerios brand in the US thought that they were onto just such a winner when they introduced us to their new Cheerios family, in their “Just Checking” spot in mid 2013.
The ad seemed to have it all—a cute kid, normal, middle class family and a good chuckle when you get to the punchline. What they were not expecting was the slew of negativity that ensued from portraying an interracial family on-screen. This was not a gay family, single parent, unmarried or blended family, all of which are now commonplace on American and british screens, just a family with a white mom, black father, and mixed race daughter.
There was public outcry and calls for the advert to be banned. The comments on the official video on YouTube became so offensive, racist and profanity laden that they needed to be disabled. But General Mills stuck to their guns, defended the advert, and kept it on screens for the full intended run. Still, many who had fallen in love with this family were convinced that they would likely never see them on-screen again.
So when they appeared again, in one of the most high-profile ad spots of the year, fans were delighted. Again, this advert has been subject to a barrage of negativity on YouTube, as well as on Twitter. But once again, they have produced an ad spot which is touching, heartfelt and humerous.
What’s more, they have not shied away from the controversy, seemingly inviting more of it, by adding another interracial child to the mix. Well done General Mills.
Worst Super Bowl Ads #1: “Hum”, Heinz Ketchup
Sometimes, self-deprecating humour can be a positive tool, especially in advertising. People like intertainers Rhett and Link have elevated cheesy, bad, and cringe worthy adverts almost into an art-form. However, it takes a deft touch, and a light hand to do so successfully, and Heinz, unfortunately, simply weren’t successful here.
The advert seems to highlight the two most common complaints about their products—the difficulty getting ketchup out of a glass bottle, and the watery consistency of the ketchup which is used in the squeeze bottles—and built an advert around it. Add toilet humour, and old-lady bowel control issues into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The message of the advert was confused from the beginning, almost seeming like a way of promoting their squeeze bottles. Shots of people struggling to get ketchup out of the bottle abounded. The only times ketchup was really seen leaving the bottle was when it was in less than ideal situations—getting ketchup all over a mafioso’s shirt, for example.
However, when it reached the end of the advert, the squeeze bottle was presented as the inferior option, with a gross “it sounds like the old lady pooped herself” joke to cap off the ad. Did we forget to mention this is an advert for something you put on food? No thanks.