Over the many, many minutes of NCAA tournament game time are peppered, liberally, many, many additional moments of beloved, life-sustaining advertising. It's not hard to figure out who's ponying up the most cash for your eyeballs (hello, TD Ameritrade! What up, Hooters?) but inevitably certain spots are replayed so many times they lose their effectiveness, not unlike that leftover bottle of Amoxycillin in your pantry from that nasty bout of strep throat in 2011. Let's take a look at the current batch of overplayed TV spots from this year's Big Dance and judge them on their merits. Accedas ad curiam
! Justice will be swift!
Capital One - The Road to the Final Four
I'm not the world's biggest Spike Lee fan and even I can't resist the teaming of the director with Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley for a series of Tourney-themed Capital One ads. The spots all pretty much rotate around Sam and Spike being cool while Sir Charles plays the buffoon -- as he does in pretty much every commercial he's appeared in since the Dream Team. Still, they're just effortless and natural-feeling enough to be welcome whenever they pop up, and Capital One pretty much keeps itself out of the proceedings, assuming that the work they've done over the past year to establish Samuel L. Jackson as its living, breathing logo (as they did with Alec Baldwin previously) wasn't in vain.
8 (out of 10)
There could be a thousand of these during the Tourney and I don't think they'd wear out their welcome. There's no way that you can't be a fan of at least one
of these people, if not all three.
Lowe's - Newfound Confidence
Lowe's has switched campaigns from "impress your neighbors," their previous series of ads which featured unveiling your new revamped house to the awe of your friends, to the "do it yourself" angle, which admittedly befits Lowe's more. These spots feature regular, goofball husbands -- the staple of many an ad for "man things" like beer and tools -- so proud of their own accomplishments that they're encouraged to take on other endeavors, to disastrous results (folding a fitted sheet, wearing a fedora). They're consistently funny, even upon the forced repeated viewings, and they serve Lowe's well from a branding standpoint. If I didn't know these were Lowe's spots I'd have guessed FedEx, which doesn't sound like a compliment but it is. Unfortunately, I have the suspicion they only did three of these, which means that unlike the Barkley/Lee/Jackson spots, we're going to keep seeing these for the duration.
Solidly funny, quick, easy in-and-outs make for inoffensive ads that register even after you're jaded on them.
Buffalo Wild Wings - Wing Wisdom
It's not that the ads for BW3's new campaign "Wing Wisdom" aren't funny, they just feel very sitcom-scripty -- and I say that as a guy who spent years in an ad agency writing countless drafts of radio and television spots that I threw out for just that reason. Here you have the only guy from The League
not doing anything on the side and his friend, some other guy, as they talk like two hilarious bros from a soon-to-be-canceled CBS sitcom (or, knowing CBS, a sitcom they'll keep for ten seasons). Buffalo Wild Wings held onto their "bartender sabotages a sporting event" spots for way too long, but they were way more interesting than this. When one of these comes on, you're not shushing your friends so you can hear what's going to go down. And if you are, you clearly have a more vigorous love for hot wings and Steve Rannazzisi than I do. And I won't judge you for that.
If you and your friend have patter like this at your own local Buffalo Wild Wings, it's no wonder you two aren't alone at your table, too.
Buick - Take a Fresh Look
I can't get enough of these ads because I love the premise: that your awful friends will automatically assume that your new car is a piece of shit, and when they find out it's not they will wonder how on earth you ever came to procure an automobile that's not a piece of shit. They also basically admit that Buicks have been terrible up until now (but now they're not, okay? They have Wi-Fi, guys? WI-FI!). These commercials literally run on every commercial break during the tournament and that adult contemporary electronic dance music that plays beneath it haunts my dreams.
Just know that everyone you knew laughed at you behind your back and thought you were a total loser when they heard you bought a Buick. You'll show them!
Enterprise Rent-a-Car - Spirit
This year's Enterprise spots boast the ground-breaking news that Enterprise "hires more college graduates than any other," which is something I cannot believe is something measurable, and the spot goes on to support how many former athletes they have on staff as well by hyping that many of them "played college sports, too." I'm not sure how this is supposed to make me feel better about renting from Enterprise, but it certainly makes me think I'll hit them up for a job after my eligibility at Kansas State finally runs out. Literally anyone
could make this exact commercial, because every company in the country has people who went to different colleges. That's what the entire world is like, not just an Enterprise office. Bonus: they're still
using Rusted Root music from 1995!
Completely ineffective except as a warning not to challenge the guy renting you a minivan for your Gatlinburg vacation to the 200-meter butterfly.