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Mini and LG prove that not all Super Bowl ads are created equal

Liam Neeson is the "the future" in LG Electronic's Super Bowl ad. (Video: LG)

It’s Monday of Super Bowl week, which means that TV advertisements for the big game are making their online debuts. Gone are the days of having to watch the actual broadcast to see such things, thankfully. Now, they come right to your handheld, seemingly undermining the purposes of buying the ad time to begin with … yet, we digress.

We’ll give you the bad news first. It comes from LG, who are rookies in the Super Bowl commercial game. For an ad that is apparently about a television, we sure get a lot of other stuff that’s not exactly the easiest to understand. It starts with Liam Neeson sitting at a bar in what looks like the most dimly lit hotel lobby ever, playing with a deck of cards, for whatever reason. Next to him is a guy who looks like an actor I feel I should know, but don’t.

Neeson then goes into his “everything I do is now an extension of my role in ‘Taken’ mode” and starts talking about the future as if he’s looking hunt it down and kill it. We’re quickly inserted into a world resembling “Tron” in which every wall is a flat screen TV and motorcycle helmets look extremely cool. The product itself being advertised appears to be extremely thin, like, too thin for something that presumably has so much power. Perhaps the strangest part about the ad is the name of the product itself that’s being described.

OLED is the name of the technology behind this television, which can be adapted basically to show images on anything, including say, flexible fabric. LED is already a word heavy in our lexicon, so, presumably any addition to the word would add to the basic pronunciation of ‘L-E-D.’ Instead, Neeson says “Oled” like it’s a proper noun, which sounds extremely odd. Slick product, bizarre name, even more spaced out commercial.

MINI USA's Super Bowl ad looks to #defylabels. It stars Serena Williams, Abby Wambach and Tony Hawk. (Video: BMW)

On the other hand, Mini’s new ad is a masterpiece and features some of the biggest names in sports, not just an aging action hero. It begins with Serena Williams saying “This … is a chick car” and follows up with Abby Wambach saying “this is a gay car.” Alrighty, then. Randy Johnson, Tony Hawk, T-Pain and Harvey Keitel make appearances as well, but the first two faces you see are clearly the impact voices.

Ostensibly the commercial is for the Mini Clubman, but more importantly is the trove of content that the car company has done surrounding the ad itself. As a bonus, there are six separate interviews that feature one-on-one discussions with the athletes of note in the commercial, tagged with the #defylabels hashtag. Sure it’s an ad campaign, and sure #brands, but the overall tone of the videos feels a lot more real than Liam Neeson throwing a playing card up against a wall and making it stick.

“I’ve been called a girl, a tomboy, a dyke a lesbian, a butch, a bitch, a lot of them and I don’t care,” Wambach says in her testimonial with a chuckle. “Those are things that for me, never defined who I was. Never defined how I played, never defined my individuality and my authentic self. They all are me and they all aren’t me. I don’t ever give anybody else the power to call me something and have me be affected by it.”

For Williams, who recently lost in the finals of the Australian Open, it’s also a very personal conversation.

“Wow, I’ve had to deal with a lot of labels,” she says. “Too strong, too sexy, too focused on tennis, mean. Too strong, what does that mean? I don’t know. Just means that I’m stronger than you. Getting past those labels for me is pretty much really easy because I define myself. It always motivates me to be the best that I can be and to go out there and do nothing less than to win. I think I get my confidence from the way I was raised. My mom, she was really, really confident and she always taught me to be a very confident individual.”

All of the individual subjects are worth the watch.

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