By: Chrysa Smith

test-drive-we-fell-head-over-heels-for-the-powerful-stylish-2014-fiat-500-abarthLike a lot of women, I watch the Super Bowl for its commercial quality–but maybe that’s because my team never quite makes it there (because I do enjoy watching football on Sundays). So, having been in the marketing/advertising biz for a little while, I have my definite favorites and my duds.

And sometimes I wonder, what planet am I on? I once managed a $1 million ad budget for a scientific company. And I can only imagine what the board room is like when you’re deciding on merely one 30 second commercial at a staggering $4.5 million. And with no real target audience, except—well the millions of viewers who like football, partying and wanting to be and do whatever everyone else is on Super Bowl Sunday. Who really, are you trying to capture?

Part of my job was to do an ad agency search. Me and my cohorts were wined, dined, bedazzled by hopefuls wanting to get their hands on a decent size budget (especially for a real niche, business-to-business company). For goodness sake, one sales rep even coerced me to take his Jaguar out for a spin. But in the end, the account was handed over to a highly creative group of spinoffs from the big Madison Ave agencies of old.

We thought we were set. Our ads would take on a more consumer feel, a more creative knack, something that would speak to scientists as people, rather than robotic nerds. And boy, were we ever wrong. In the end, the nerds won out. Because it turns out that an ad campaign that was targeting the concept of ‘not taking risks with less than stellar equipment’,  didn’t go over well at all. In fact, it caused phone calls and commentary about how ‘off’ it was. Picture a casino scene, and a glamorous couple decked out in their best evening attire. I can still remember the headline: There are places where gambling is perfectly acceptable. The text went on to talk about the laboratory not being one that is—therefore, use the long-time trusted product and predict good results……yada, yada, yada.

Only the plunging neckline of the woman’s dress was apparently so offensive, that we had to do the print version of quick tailoring, and even then, we got a backlash. Now, what man wouldn’t like seeing an attractive woman’s cleavage? Turns out, the nerdy scientists.

Monday morning quarter-backing,  my favorite Super Bowl commercial by far was the Fiat ad. Maybe its my irreverent humor. And if you didn’t catch it, it’s a seduction scene with an older couple. When the male stops to pop a Viagra, he misses and the little blue pill takes a long journey out the window, down the block, bounces off some obstacles, past a priest and smack into the fuel tank of the new, bigger Fiat. The visual is a plumping up of the car (hee, hee) and ultimately, the introduction of the larger vehicle. Super creative.

Maybe I’m still back on yesterday’s cleavage and a bit of timid innuendo, but that’s how my taste runs. And perhaps next year, I’ll be rooting for my team, as well as good, suggestive commercials.