For the last couple of weeks, Garmin’s blog has been hyping the company’s forthcoming Super Bowl ad, with an extended music video and behind the scenes clips. With the Super Bowl now over, the ad itself is now finally available:
I’m not sure how much to read into this ad. On the one hand, Super Bowl ads have in recent years been all about pushing the creative envelope, brand awareness and having a little fun — and doing an ad for GPS navigation systems in the style of Japanese tokusatsu certainly fits the bill. It’s cheese, but it’s high-concept cheese. Ed Parsons says that “you can tell that geospatial technology is mainstream when a GI company can afford the rates to place a Super Bowl ad on U.S. television.”
On the other hand, what is Garmin’s message in this ad? What is it saying about paper maps when a map transforms into a kaiju named Maposaurus that must be defeated by Garmin Man? Is Garmin’s message that the solution to an unwieldy $5 map is a several-hundred-dollar navigation system? (That will presumably tell you to drive off a cliff.) Maybe I’m reading too much into a silly one-off ad, but I’m surprised at the GPS vs. paper maps messaging, and concerned at the notion that maps aren’t necessary any more. False dichotomy, implications for map literacy, etc., etc.
Then again, the likely point of this ad — and of Super Bowl ads in general, for that matter — is just to get us talking about it. Thierry isn’t a fan of the ad. What do you think?