The best (subtextual) ad of Super Bowl XLIV

11 February 2010

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.

The Kia posse, on the loose in VegasIn 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.

NeedleworkAbout 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.

Bad monkey!

  1. February 25th, 2010 at 11:51 | #1

    I have to clear up false statements you made about sock monkeys. They are Not made out of “whole cloth” unless they are the fake ones from Walmart. They are made from real socks with a red heel. When the socks are cut and stitched together one red heel becomes their butt and the other red heel becomes their mouth. (Fake Walmart monkeys have no red butt and were never a sock).

    I love these bad boys and they indeed can be trouble makers although they have never caused any bodily injury.

    One more correction. Sock monkeys do have “mothers”. I have “birthed” many over the last few decades. I even have a pregnant sock monkey in my home at this very moment.

    Its good to hear your positive words about sock monkeys and hope they continue to get the positive publicity they deserve.

  2. February 26th, 2010 at 07:50 | #2

    You’re right, of course — I just couldn’t resist the pun about whole cloth. Not that it explains anything, but when I wrote that I was thinking of Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus.

    I also can’t resist you plugging your site here, since your plug includes 1) pro-monkey levity, 2) a Wal-Mart dis, and 3) a great screen name. By the way, your pregnant sock monkey reminds me of a comment I once made to a Slashdot poll on who would win in a battle between ninjas, pirates, robots, and monkeys:

    Ninjas require years and years of training.
    Pirates, sooner or later, will turn on themselves and succumb to infighting.
    Robots are like laptops, it all comes down to battery maintenance.
    But monkeys can always make MORE MONKEYS!

    Here’s wishing you many more monkeys.

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