Hooray for the return of creativity and simplicity.

Each year, I get a number of people who ask for my “expert” opinion of the Super Bowl commercials. For a long time, I would say most were ridiculous and the creators cared more about entertainment and winning an award than promoting a brand. I point to Apple Computer’s Orwellian “1984” spot as the culprit that started the one-upmanship obsession.

But my overall impression started to change over the last two years. Maybe it was the economic recession that brought clarity as to what the many millions of dollars in spot and production costs were actually supposed to achieve. Whatever the reason, I’m glad to see creativity in an idea and simplicity in the execution return. I have to say Doritos has been nailing it lately. This year, the missing cat and bungee baby were clever and funny. And the spots actually featured the product. Wow, what a concept. And kudos to VW’s plump pooch spot. It was cute (and a little inspiring as I sat on my sofa feeling like a stuffed turkey). When you look at that spot and last year’s Darth Vader brilliance (in my hall of fame group with the eTrade kid), both of them capture the heart & soul of VW’s brand personality.

But come on, the grand champion this year has to be Honda’s Ferris Bueller remake! They knew precisely the car’s target demographic (purchaser) would immediately see the “inside joke” of the seemingly-same only years-later antics from the movie they still love. It’s a classic. And the TV spot is just as good, just much shorter. Ok, so it didn’t make me want to buy a CR-V. But I did feel like goofing off the next day.