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Tide is high: Creative types tee off on Super Bowl ads

David Harbour (left) trolled other popular commercials in Tide's Super Bowl ad campaign. Special to The Forum

FARGO—While the outcome of the Super Bowl was decisive, those who watched the big game may still be arguing about what constitutes a catch in the NFL, whether Justin Timberlake's halftime show was a gem or a joke and which commercials were hits and which were duds.

The local chapter of the American Advertising Federation will offer some spirited analysis of the celebrated spots Wednesday night with TV Timeout at Sanctuary Events Center. Local advertising creators will tune in and tee off on which ads scored big and which ones dropped the ball. In the spirit of the big game, there may even be some trash talking between the participants.

While Jeff Knight, president of AAF-ND, thought the results were mixed, panelists Amber Kienenberger, communication project manager at Noridian, and Kevin Tobosa of BRAVE thought, in general, the quality of ads was lacking this year.

"Overall, I was surprised by how many ads just phoned it in," Tobosa says. "If you're going to drop that kind of coin, do something."

Kienenberger agrees.

"There weren't many that really stuck out to me, and I think seeing so many in advance minimizes your reaction on the day of the game," she says.

All three saw humor as a popular vehicle throughout the broadcast, but say the spots that played it serious really made an impression this year.

"Humor is always a theme, but I like to look for the secondary themes," Tobosa says. "This year there were several spots with the theme of unity and connectedness. Two of my favorites were the Dodge ad honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Toyota 'One Team' ad that used humor to deliver the theme of unity."

Kienenberger says the most effective ads touch the viewer personally more than tickle the funny bone.

"I grew up watching 'Dirty Dancing' and definitely got a kick out of the NFL commercial that was a play on this movie," she says. "Likewise, I had friends and family impacted by the hurricanes so it was nice to see Budweiser focus on their water initiative."

"In some cases, the ads are moving away from telling compelling stories in exchange for a cheap laugh or a celebrity cameo," says Knight. "Now, that's not to say those tactics aren't effective, they're just not as interesting as those with more of a substantial story to tell."

So what makes a good Super Bowl ad?

"Remarkability," Tobosa says. "It's got to give people something to talk about. No one is talking about Howie Long's Sketchers. We're talking about Tide trolling all Super Bowl advertising."

Other creative types offering their two cents at Wednesday's meeting of the minds are Adam Wiedman, of Wiedman Design Co. and his wife Shannon Wiedman, product design director at CoSchedule. Eric Ista, founder and creative consultant of Nimble Creative Studio serves as the event's emcee.

If You Go

What: TV Timeout

When: 6:30 - 9 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave., N., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $20 for AAF-ND members and $25 for non-members.