(NEW YORK) — Reactions to Super Bowl commercials this year were as up and down as the ads themselves. So, do advertisers still believe the adage that any press is good press?
Viewers’ expectations go sky-high for Super Bowl commercials, and with the average Super Bowl 2013 spot costing $3.8 million, advertisers reach for commercials so memorable they stay in viewers’ heads, no matter what they might think of them.
A Super Bowl commercial from Go Daddy, which registers Internet domain names, certainly succeeded in grabbing attention, but some of its customers said they were so disturbed they planned to switch their domain registrations to another company.
“I’ve been with Go Daddy for years and have endured the horrific ads you’ve featured the past several years,” one customer wrote on Go Daddy’s customer support message board. “It seems each time you are going for shock value, and [are] hoping the buzz about it somehow converts to actual sales. However, last night’s ad was the final straw for me.”
“We’re not shielding any negative comments from customers who are expressing their opinions on our website, nor are we apologizing for the ad. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and Go Daddy respects that,” said Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving in a statement to ABC News.
Here are six Super Bowl commercials, including Go Daddy’s, that some would call the worst, or at least the most talked about:
Go Daddy’s Sexy-Meets-Smart Super Bowl Commercial
After the Super Bowl game ended and the world was exposed to domain-hosting company Go Daddy’s 30-second ad “Perfect Match,” which featured supermodel Bar Refaeli and actor Jesse Heiman in a kiss, Go Daddy called its ad campaign a “sensational Super Bowl victory.” Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving said the company set “all-time Super Bowl Sunday records” for mobile sales, website hosting and new customers.
The company did acknowledge that the ad “polarized viewers,” and that some called it “inappropriate” but that it attracted more than 4 million YouTube views even before the Super Bowl game.
“Our goal with the ‘Perfect Match’ Super Bowl ad was to be memorable and create buzz. In doing so, we used humor to demonstrate our edgy heritage and our technical smarts. That kiss generated a lot of attention and in the process polarized viewers,” said Go Daddy’s Irving in a statement to ABC News. “Many, including me, thought it was awkward and funny, and a few thought it was over-the-top.”
Larry Woodard, CEO and president of Graham Stanley Advertising, said he couldn’t remember a single word that was said about the product, but that was likely a part of Go Daddy’s strategy to outdo itself from previous years.
Calvin Klein’s Too Sexy Super Bowl Commercial
Another commercial that likely drew equal amounts of love and hate was Calvin Klein’s ad for its new underwear line for men. Featuring the chiseled model Matthew Terry wearing nothing but underwear and a smoldering glare, the ad was Calvin Klein’s first foray into Super Bowl advertising.
“It is hard to read deeper into the kiss and Calvin Klein, as they were pretty much what they seemed to be on the surface — a desperate grab for attention, [with] Go Daddy using polarizing humor and sex, and Calvin Klein serving grown-up fare to a family audience,” Woodard said.
Coca-Cola’s Big Build-Up
While Coca-Cola’s social media strategy and build-up to the Super Bowl seemed stronger than ever — reaching Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr — the end of its commercial, chosen through viewer votes, struggled to live up to the hype.
Viewers could vote online for which group of characters — the Cowboys, Showgirls and Badlanders — would win a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola.
Woodard said the ad’s 30-second ending, a western showdown seen toward the end of the football game, “fell flat.”
“It seems they were fully relying on the Internet experience to deliver the goods,” he said. “Internet glitches during the Super Bowl interfered, as did the fact the spot was leading people away from the Super Bowl without a stated reward.”
Gildan’s T-Shirt Message
Apparel manufacturer Gildan used humor in its first Super Bowl ad to try to become your “favorite T-shirt” in its commercial “Getaway.”
Woodard said the commercial was “so off strategy it was forgettable.” He said Gildan should have advertised the benefits of its product before spending $4 million or so on the ad.
MiO Fit and Tracy Morgan
It’s hard to imagine anything more entertaining than comedian Tracy Morgan in a Super Bowl commercial. Morgan has been nominated for an Emmy and several Screen Actors Guild awards for his portrayal of Tracy Jordan on NBC’s 30 Rock. But his spot for sports drink MiO Fit was not one of Woodard’s favorites. The company “tried to force-feed a concept with hoopla instead of offering any substantiation,” Woodard said.
Beck’s Sapphire in Smooth Psychedelic Spot
The Super Bowl commercial for Beck’s Sapphire German beer included a throwback to 1996’s “No Diggity,” originally sung by the R&B group Blackstreet.
“While this commercial didn’t make me want to go out and buy a bottle of Beck’s, it did remind me how great hip-hop was in the 1990s,” wrote Victor Luckerson at Time magazine. “This black goldfish’s suave rendition of ‘No Diggity’ would have been enough to make Blackstreet proud. Wait, you say, aren’t sapphires blue? Yeah, and fish can’t sing. What’s your point?”
Woodard said part of the confusion about the Beck’s Sapphire ad was that the spot aired at the wrong time of day.
“If it was running at 2 a.m., you were in the 18 to 34 target, sprawled out on the couch and still buzzed from the drinks at the club, the black goldfish swimming around a hot new bottle (for a beer) might mesmerize you,” Woodard said.
However, during the high-energy Super Bowl “it was like showing a Dr. Seuss short before a horror film, entirely out of place.
“Even placed within context, while it can be argued the song sets a mood, the ad is confusing at best, especially when you see the fish actually singing the lyrics while swimming around the bottle,” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Millie Behra, FamilyShare
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Emanuella Grinberg, CNN