Coca-Cola unveiled its new Super Bowl work from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., in an rather awkwardly-orchestrated Webcast today. Coke will have two new spots in this year's game. Sad to say, neither matches the brilliance of recent efforts such as "Heist" and "It's Mine," both of which featured compelling story lines, superb musical underscoring and an urgency in their pacing that is notably absent in "Hard Times" and "Sleepwalker."
"Sleepwalker" introduces us to a sleepwalker walking across the African landscape, seemingly in his sleep. His destination is a fridge in a thatched hut in which sit several bottles of Coca-Cola. The humor in the spot, such as it is, comes from all the various fearsome animals he interacts with and navigates around to get to the Coca-Cola. But the sleepwalking shtick just doesn't work, and the bits with the animals can't entirely compensate for the concept's inherent shortcomings.
"Hard Times" is sure to delight fans of "The Simpsons." In this one billionaire C. Montgomery Burns must lose all his material possessions before he learns what is really of value in life -- namely friends and Coca-Cola. There is plenty of busy-ness as the story moves along, but "Hard Times" never manages to quite become a captivating experience.
What's missing in both spots is a real sense of build in the story lines. Both commercials do an okay job of telling their respective stories, but neither has sufficient charm or emotional heft to make them great.