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Coming for the Ads, Staying for the Game

Marnie Levenstein, Obbie Kay, Marnie Metzman, Honey Konicoff and Dave Epstein react to a FedEx commercial at a party in North Bethesda.
Marnie Levenstein, Obbie Kay, Marnie Metzman, Honey Konicoff and Dave Epstein react to a FedEx commercial at a party in North Bethesda. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 6, 2006

For a bunch of local advertising executives, it wasn't what was on the Super Bowl field that held them spellbound. When a hush fell over the living room in Montgomery County, it was commercials that quieted the crowd.

Football was incidental.

"That was great!" boomed Michael Broder, 34, president and chief executive of Brightline Media, a consulting company in Alexandria, after watching a dinosaur crush a cave man who had failed to send an animal hide via FedEx.

The spot sent the room into peals of laughter. And just like a sports commentator, Broder gave his instant analysis:

"The creative aspect connected to what they do as a company," he said.

"What was so brilliant about it was that we're all at a party and it's loud -- but it had subtitles, so we got it," said Marnie Metzman of Gaithersburg, who works in corporate marketing for Marriott.

About 25 assorted advertising experts, their spouses and friends huddled last night over pretzels and brie at Broder's North Bethesda townhouse to casually root for the Pittsburgh Steelers and savagely scrutinize the commercials.

"It's like watching the Oscars for the clothes," Metzman whispered before the game.

We'll call them "Superads" because, let's face it, that's what they are -- commercials on steroids, a costly 30 seconds of humor, awe or pathos designed to impress the year's biggest TV audience.

Viewers expect great things after decades of ritualized ad-watching. But, in most cases, the 60-some spots didn't live up to their hype, the group decided.

Take the Web domain name registrar GoDaddy.com, which submitted 13 "edgy" commercial drafts featuring a bosomy brunette, and then chronicled each rejection from ABC on its Web site. The approved spot was basically a diluted variation on its spoof last year on wardrobe malfunction.

"What is it?" asked Potomac resident Jamie Rogers, an account executive for Mix 107.3 and Smooth Jazz 105.9.


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