The best (subtextual) ad of Super Bowl XLIV
In the wake of the Super Bowl, with a slate of advertising that was among the weakest ever, Google is getting all the press for having the “best ad.” Never mind that “Parisian Love” wasn’t a new ad premiered for the game, and had already been available on YouTube for three months. It’s a cute ad (or perhaps une annonce très mignon), in its minimalist way, and certainly does a fine job of showing off Google’s core competency. Still, it was not my favourite ad of the day.
In every review I’ve seen, the Kia Sorento ad—with a gang of oversized toys (Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba, a teddy bear, a sock monkey, a robot, and what looked to me like a cheap Halloween-costume amalgam of Hamburglar and Cousin Itt) on the loose in Vegas—gets nary a mention.
Maybe that has something to do with the ad blitz Kia ran in the weeks leading up to the game. Over and over they played 15-second teaser versions using clips of the bowling and bull-riding scenes, cut short with a “see us in the 3rd quarter of the big game” placard. But the teasers played so often, by the time the complete ad finally rolled around, people might have already been over it.
Too bad, because it’s a fun one. Certainly the music track, “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy, was the best of any ad all day. The visuals were at least mildly absurd, and even if the toys’ antics were somewhat mainstream, at least the ad led the viewer to think: “hey, that thing has plenty of room for an enormous cyclopean red rubber alien and four of his friends, maybe it has enough space for me and my fishing buddies.” So in my opinion, the ad worked, both as entertainment and as sales pitch.
Okay, in retrospect the reveal is a plainly obvious one. Of course it’s all the sock monkey’s dream. Still, I’ll admit to having laughed out loud at it. What can I say—I like monkeys, and I like trouble-making monkeys. That’s how I roll, having been raised on Curious George.
As I watched and thought to myself cheerily, “that’s a bad monkey,” I realised there’s a subtext to this ad. It’s probably unintentional, but I hope it’s not.
About midway through the ad, the monkey gets a tattoo. It’s stitched on, which is easily the best sight gag of the ad. It’s a classic tattoo: the name “Mom” in a heart. It’s funny, and yes, tame.
Except that sock monkeys don’t really have mothers. They’re created out of whole cloth, pardon the pun.
Here’s what I think: the sock monkey has the hots for the blonde soccer mom that’s driving the Sorento at the end of the ad.