Ads feature amateurs, play it safe

first_imgNEW YORK – Along with the trademark Clydesdales, talking animals and high-end computer graphics, there was a new entry this year in the annual showdown of advertisers in the Super Bowl: amateurs. Starting in the first quarter, a goofy spot for Doritos showing a hapless driver distracted by a pretty woman passing by marked the first time a purely amateur-created ad aired during the Super Bowl. Frito-Lay, the PepsiCo Inc. division that makes Doritos, ran an online competition to pick the winning spot. Katie Crabb, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, was the winner of a separate contest by General Motors Corp. and had her idea for an ad made into reality by Chevrolet’s marketing division. Despite being made by a newcomer, that ad was true to the tradition of using oddball humor in Super Bowl ads, showing a number of men stripping off their shirts – and some other articles of clothing – at the sight of a new Chevy HHR rolling down the street. Sight gags were back, including one from Bud Light early in the game showing a rather unusual tactic for winning at rock-paper-scissors – throwing an actual rock at the head of your opponent. The gag wasn’t completely new, however, since last year Sprint Nextel Corp. featured a phone with a “crime deterrent” – which turned out to be throwing the phone at someone’s head. FedEx Corp. combined a sight gag with another trademark of big ticket Super Bowl spots, fancy computer graphics, with an other-worldy ad showing an office worker drifting off into space from the world’s first office on the moon, only to be clobbered by a passing meteor. A lot was riding on the ads, and not just because CBS Corp. was charging as much as $2.6million for a 30-second spot during the game. With about 90million people watching, it’s the most-viewed program all year on television, and the ads are subject to intense scrutiny, both by amateurs and the marketing industry. Coca-Cola Co. was back in the game after a long absence, taking on its rival Pepsi with a number of creative ads, including an homage to Black History Month with an understated ad showing the changing shapes of Coke bottles over time as milestones in black history appeared alongside. That ad referred indirectly to the fact that, for the first time, both coaches in the game are black, and at least one other spot also highlighted Black History Month. Some of the uses of humor didn’t resonate well with experts. Stephen Greyser, a professor at Harvard Business School specializing in communications and the business of sports, said the rock-throwing spot by Anheuser-Busch Cos.’ Bud Light was “attention-getting” but also “had a nasty character to it.” Bud Light, which often swings for the fences with wacky jabs at humor, scored better with Greyser with a different spot showing an auctioneer saying wedding vows at hyper-fast speed. Greyser said that spot had a much broader appeal. The job-search company CareerBuilder ditched its longtime office-monkey pitchmen of years past in favor of a jungle combat scene among office workers, where office supplies become weapons. Think of “Dilbert” meets “Lord of the Flies.” Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University who runs a panel of students to rate the ads, called this year’s batch a “mixed bag,” saying advertisers were “being safe,” with no one “pushing the edge of either creativity or taste.” An ad early in the game for Blockbuster Inc. with computer animations of animals trying to push, click and – ouch – drag an actual mouse resonated well with members of his panel, who said it was creative and also delivered the company’s message. The panel found a spot by King Pharmaceuticals Inc. showing a guy dressed up in a giant red heart costume “puzzling,” while Garmin International Inc.’s oddball spot with a showdown between a superhero-like character and a monster made from maps was deemed “hard to follow.” Sight gags back Back in the game Hitchhiking gag Later in the game, Bud Light won laughs with a spot showing a guy clearly losing points with his girlfriend by wanting to pick up a hitchhiker on a dark road, despite the fact that he’s carrying an axe. Everything turns out fine after the hitchhiker reassures the man that it’s actually just a bottle opener. Revlon was one of a rare few to appeal to the female audience, unveiling a spot with scenes of the singer Sheryl Crowe on tour and doing a rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” The NFL itself, meanwhile, got into the “user-generated” theme with a spot near the end of the game whose idea was contributed by a fan, Gino Bona, of Portsmouth, N.H., taking a light look at the anguish fans go through at the end of the NFL season. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

A timely budget unlikely this year

first_imgAssemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, chairman of the Assembly Budget committee, said Democrats are trying to restore at least $827 million that Schwarzenegger wants to cut from public transportation. They contend some cuts may be illegal. They also reject the governor’s plan to spend at least $600 million to repay debt early from the 2004 economy recovery bond. Instead they want to use the money for social service payments to children and senior citizens. “He’s choosing Wall Street over California’s kids and seniors,” Laird said. Still Laird believes the issues can be resolved by the end of June. The state Constitution calls for the Legislature to pass a budget by June 15 and for governor to sign it by June 30, in time for the start of the next fiscal year July 1. With few penalties for a late budget, however, debate has at times stretched into August and even September in past years. The budget has been late seven times in the past decade. SACRAMENTO – Lawmakers said Thursday they’re near agreement on a state budget, but predicted they’ll miss tonight’s deadline for passage. Among the sticking points are Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut funding for public transit and social services and to repay bond debt early. Republican Leader Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Clovis, said Democratic and Republican lawmakers differ on at least $1.4 billion in spending. “I think we’re all working toward getting something done in a reasonable time frame,” Villines said during an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club. Schwarzenegger has proposed a $146 billion spending plan for 2007-08. His budget increases spending for education and infrastructure, but scales back funds for social services and cuts about $1.3 billion from public transit. It avoids tax hikes, but also allows a $1.4 billion operating deficit. H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the Schwarzenegger administration remains optimistic a budget can be signed by June 30. “The will is there,” Palmer said. “There are disagreements, but people are not being disagreeable.” In Los Angeles, transit officials are eagerly awaiting the results. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimates the governor’s proposal would mean at least $230 million less for the agency, which recently approved stiff fare increases throughout the county. Metro CEO Roger Snoble said Thursday that if the agency gets the additional state funding, it would still have to boost fares next year, but the next round of increases in 2009 could be softened. (916) 446-6723 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Hazard to return for Chelsea in must win game? Line up for Stoke match predicted

first_img 11 11 22. Willian (right wing) – Where would Chelsea be without his goals this season? He has become a free kick king and has dug his teammates out of so many holes. The Brazilian is the Blues’ player of the season so far, not that there are many candidates for that accolade that is. 24. Gary Cahill (centre back) – Cahill was rested for the Champions League victory in midweek but should return to the team for Saturday’s trip to Stoke. Although it is difficult to tell given current form but he is Mourinho’s first choice defender and, given that he is one poor result away from the sack, the manager will want to call on his most senior players. 7. Ramires (central midfield) – Ramires scored against Liverpool and, despite speculation he would leave during last summer’s transfer window, he has stayed and played his way into a new contract. His never-stop-running attitude is what Mourinho needs to get Chelsea out of this slump. 11 11 11 8. Oscar (left wing) – Eden Hazard has done nothing to persuade Mourinho, or the fans, that he deserves his place in the team back. It is not as if the Chelsea boss has not tried with his star player, giving him the central number 10 role, but he has failed to impress meaning Oscar will continue on the left for the time being. 6. Baba Rahman (left back) – Again he is likely to start for Chelsea on Saturday given the on-going injury situation with Bransilav Ivanovic. The experiment with playing Zouma as a full back is a failed one so with Azpilicueta moving to right back, Baba Rahman is the only other natural left back in the squad. Stoke v Chelsea is live on talkSPORT at 5.30pm on Saturday 7 November.Was Wednesday night’s late 2-1 win against Dynamo Kiev a turning point for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho?The Blues manager was visibly moved as the Stamford Bridge faithful sang his name and said he would do everything he could for them.As they conceded a late equaliser against Kiev, many thought it would be the same old story, but a Willian free kick minutes later gave Mourinho a much-needed victory and showed a character that hasn’t been seen by Chelsea all season.So will Mourinho keep the same side as he fights to keep his job and raise Chelsea from their lowly position of fifteenth?Click the arrow above, right, to see a predicted XI to avenge the League Cup loss to Stoke two weeks ago. 26. John Terry (centre back) – Given Stoke’s physicality, Terry should get the nod to don the captaincy and start at the back this weekend, despite Kurt Zouma’s emergence as Mourinho’s preferred centre half. 11 11 21. Nemanja Matic (central midfield) – Matic was dropped for the visit of Liverpool last week but was recalled in midweek and should see himself recalled to deal with the robust fashion of Stoke’s midfield. 1. Asmir Begovic (goalkeeper) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Chelsea line-up against Stoke in squad number order – Begovic has made some outstanding saves this season but is his lack of commanding presence the reason the Chelsea defence is malfunctioning so badly? Either way Mourinho has no choice but to start the Bosnian until Thibaut Courtois returns. 11 19. Diego Costa (striker) – Like the majority of his teammates, he has been truly awful this season, appearing both unfit and overweight. However Mourinho has to play the Brazilan-turned-Spaniard, simply because, who else is there? 4. Cesc Fabregas (central attack) – Expect Fabregas to start a little further forward than usual and be relieved of all defensive duties so he can focus on what he is really good at – creating chances. The former Arsenal man has had a pretty awful season so far but don’t be surprised if he gets back to his best at the Britannia. 11 11 11 28. Cesar Azpilicueta (right back) – Agree with the team? – Azpilicueta has been in and out of the team recently as well as being shoved in both full back positions but given the success with him on the right on Wednesday, the Spaniard should keep his place.last_img read more