Diamond Foods will be making a splash with its ad featuring the World’s Most Flamboyant dolphin trainer standing on top of a volcano in the middle of a marine theme park. The commercial begins with the trainer whipping the crowd into a frenzy screaming “Let’s Get Aquatic!” The ad ends with the phrase “Awesome + Awesome = Awesomer.” How this relates to popcorn and snack nuts will be revealed during the second half of the game.
This was the eighth Super Bowl of the 21st century, but if you were only paying attention to the commercials, you might have thought it was the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s.
It wasn’t just older themes that played during the between-plays breaks in Super Bowl XLII, such as Budweiser’s Dalmatians and Clydesdales, which have been commercial stars during the big game for decades. Sunday’s Super Bowl ads also referred to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the Andrea True disco song “More, More, More” and the “Saturday Night Live” skit that led to the 1998 movie “A Night at the Roxbury.” And that was just in the first half.
From the previews that have been judiciously leaked over the past few days, the Super Bowl ads will feature a familiar mix of celebrities in zany situations and critters in zany situations.
Humor is the unchanging constant of Super Bowl ads, and that’s not a bad thing, especially considering how seriously so many millions of Americans will take the accompanying football game.
If you look at the Super Bowl advertisement hype, which seems to triple each year, it almost makes the 30-second spots seem worth the 40 bajillion dollars that companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi will be paying for them in 2008.
And with so many iconic moments in the past 3 1/2 decades, it’s becoming more socially acceptable to admit you prefer the commercials to the game – especially the 52-10 blowout between the New England Patriots and New York Giants that we’re about to watch on Sunday afternoon. Have we reached the point where popular culture has become part of American history? And if so, should Super Bowl ads be taught in every classroom?
When it comes to Super Bowl advertisements, sleaze sells. This Sunday will likely feature sexual innuendos, bodily functions, crotch injuries, erectile dysfunction talk and various combinations of the four.
Tawdry commercials have been around from the beginning — the first memorable Super Bowl ad featured Farrah Fawcett making love to Joe Namath’s face with Noxzema shaving cream — but the risk-taking definitely increased beginning in the mid-1990s. The sleaziest Super Bowl by far was in 2004, which was also the year that Janet Jackson’s right breast made an unfortunate halftime appearance.
Miller is calling out the dogs again.
Beginning tomorrow and running through the Super Bowl, the brewer will blanket the airwaves with a new Miller Lite ad featuring a Dalmatian, a longtime mascot of its chief rival, Anheuser-Busch.
The spot shows a Dalmatian sitting on a couch watching an earlier Miller ad. After seeing the commercial, the dog leaps off the couch and runs down the street, where it’s joined by other Dalmatians, which scamper out of a barn full of Clydesdales (another reference to Anheuser). The pack of pooches follows a Miller truck that reads: “Miller Lite Has More Taste Than Bud Light.”
Anheuser-Busch spent about $2.7M a pop on nine ads in this year’s Super Bowl – with seven of the spots devoted to Bud Light.The lineups are just about set for Super Bowl Sunday – not on the field, but for the glitzy, star-studded TV commercials that will cost close to $3 million apiece.
“The advertisers this year have learned how to do it,” says Walter Guarino, advertising professor at Seton Hall University. “They’ll keep it light and humorous, and I think it will be a real good year.”
Like Eli Manning and Tom Brady on the field, Super Bowl legend Justin Timberlake will lead a team of stars through 63 ad spots with an airtime tab that will run about $175 million.
NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. will go bumper-to-bumper with his former backer before the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 if he makes the starting grid in a Feb. 3 Super Bowl ad for the company sponsoring his new ride.
Earnhardt, a five-time Most Popular Driver Award winner whose 17 major victories include the 2004 Daytona 500, recently shot two ads for Pepsi’s (PEP) Amp energy drink, sponsor of his race car this year.
Pepsi is the No. 2 Super Bowl ad spender this year behind Anheuser-Busch (BUD), which was Earnhardt’s sponsor last season. He moved to Pepsi and the Hendrick Motorsports racing team after a highly publicized split with his family’s team and says he’s eager to help Pepsi overtake marketing rival A-B as a Super Bowl ad favorite.
THEY say time and tide wait for no man, but Tide has waited a long time to be advertised on the Super Bowl. Soon, Tide, the biggest detergent brand in America — sold by the biggest advertiser in America — will appear for the first time on the biggest day for advertising in America.
Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide, has bought time during the Fox Broadcasting coverage of Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3 for a commercial for the Tide to Go instant stain remover. The 30-second spot, by Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, part of the Publicis Groupe, is scheduled to appear in the game’s second quarter.
“The Super Bowl ads are better than the game.”
No doubt you’ve heard at least one friend or relative make that statement, usually after a few drinks, a large gambling loss or a horrible set of Super Bowl events that mock the sports gods — such as Washington quarterback Mark Rypien being named MVP.
But have we really reached the point where commercials have become more entertaining than the sporting event that surrounds them?
America hasn’t even seen his company’s commercial running on the Super Bowl yet, and Steven Schreibman is already happy with the returns from Nationwide Mutual Insurance’s purchase of the most expensive TV advertising time in history.
His ad stars Kevin Federline, Britney Spears’s estranged husband, fantasizing about doing a music video while cooking up fries at a fast-food restaurant. The spot has generated publicity and buzz beyond a marketer’s wildest dreams, said Schreibman, Nationwide’s vice president of advertising and brand management.
As of Thursday afternoon, the ad had generated hundreds of stories in the media, leading to 137 million Web viewings — or the number of times people see a brand, he said. “Right now, we are at about $5 million in ad value and there is more than a week to go before the game.”
By the time Super Bowl XL kicks off in Detroit in 11 days, Marlene Coulis will have clocked hundreds of hours in effort and thousands of miles in travel preparing for the moment.
A marketing executive at brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos., Ms. Coulis has almost as much at stake in the game as the players. Long one of the Super Bowl’s biggest sponsors, Anheuser this year has bought five minutes of ad time for its brands including Budweiser and Bud Light — more time than any other advertiser in the broadcast.
Anheuser sees the Super Bowl and its expected U.S. audience of 90 million viewers as more than an opportunity to promote its brands or sell beer. It sees a chance to be seen as funny, prompting favorable reviews Monday morning by workplace advertising critics.
THE players on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks who will participate in their first Super Bowl have a counterpart on Madison Avenue. On the biggest day of the year for advertising, the biggest advertiser is entrusting a newcomer to select its commercials.
The rookie is Marlene V. Coulis, who last August took over as vice president for brand management at the Anheuser-Busch beer division of the Anheuser-Busch Companies in St. Louis. Ms. Coulis succeeded Robert Lachky, who had long overseen the decisions by Anheuser-Busch about which spots would run during the Super Bowl for which brands.
Under Mr. Lachky, Anheuser-Busch’s commercials often ranked highly – frequently coming in first – in the many postgame polls and surveys asking consumers which spots they liked the most. Each year, Anheuser-Busch usually buys more commercial time than any other advertiser during the Super Bowl, which is typically the most-watched TV show of the year.
When paying $2.5 million for 30 seconds of advertising time, you might think you could pretty much do anything with it.
No so when that half minute is airing during the Super Bowl, now in its 40th year.
Long known as an advertising showcase that can eclipse the on-field action, America’s Big Game remains a top venue of choice for marketers to roll out new campaigns or build on old ones. And the amount of time, money and talent they put behind those spots remains undiminished.