Watch the Top Five Super Bowl Commercials from the past fifteen years (yes, Feb. 3 marks the 16th anniversary of our coverage of your favorite Super Bowl Commercials – SuperBowl-ads.com)
Watch the Top Five Super Bowl Commercials from the past fifteen years (yes, Feb. 3 marks the 16th anniversary of our coverage of your favorite Super Bowl Commercials – SuperBowl-ads.com)
Diamond Foods Makes Super Bowl History Featuring Two Brands in One Advertisement
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 21, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND), announced today that it will unveil a new, groundbreaking commercial featuring two of its snack food brands —- Pop Secret(R) Popcorn and Emerald(R) Nuts —- during CBS’s coverage of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida on February 7, 2010.
The Company has a reputation for creating award-winning, memorable ads with its trademark offbeat humor and has been challenging the status quo with a strong history of energizing categories and building brands. This year is no exception.
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.
“We have used Super Bowl advertising very effectively over the years to drive broad awareness and growth of our Emerald brand,” said Diamond President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Mendes. “This year, we are leveraging our Super Bowl investment featuring both Pop Secret Popcorn and Emerald Nuts in one ad. This reinforces the fact that Diamond has two contemporary snack food brands in its portfolio well-positioned to serve a similar consumer demographic.”
Diamond is no stranger to making memorable ads that positively impact sales having produced award winning ads that aired during Super Bowls in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In each year, the Company experienced high double digit growth in sales following those games as it built the Emerald snack food brand that it launched in 2004. This year, Diamond is sprinkling its magic on Pop Secret Popcorn, the brand it purchased in 2008 and took full control of in February 2009.
Working with San Francisco based advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Diamond has achieved a first in Super Bowl advertising featuring two distinct brands side by side in one commercial.
“We have raised the bar for ourselves and really pushed the envelope to create a unique commercial,” said Andrew Burke, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Diamond Foods. “We are excited with the results and believe we have a memorable spot that will connect with our target audience and dramatically increase our off shelf promotional displays.”
Popcorn and snack nuts are a staple at Super Bowl parties. According to a study by The Integer Group, over 6 million pounds of popcorn and snack nuts will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
Diamond will be supporting the television ad with a robust marketing campaign that includes print and online advertising. The Company will run a print advertisement in USA Today and online ads the week before the Super Bowl on the websites of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. After the Super Bowl, the Company will utilize search advertising via Google and YouTube to drive consumers to its branded websites.
Since the middle of December 2009, Diamond has been reinvigorating the Pop Secret brand with its recently launched kernel campaign featuring animated kernel characters that are passionate movie lovers actively watching popular scenes from classic movies. Andy Allcock, Pop Secret Brand Manager added, “We have been receiving very positive responses to the ads. Consumers love them.” The Company has aired over 600 spots during the campaign.
Emerald snack nuts are the fastest growing brand in the snack nut category and have grown sales dollars almost 50% over the previous year.
About Diamond Foods
Diamond Foods (NASDAQ: DMND) is a leading branded food company specializing in producing, marketing and distributing culinary nuts and snack products under the Diamond(R), Emerald(R) and Pop Secret(R) brands.
Corporate Web Site: http://www.diamondfoods.com
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners Web Site: http://www.goodbysilverstein.com
SOURCE: Diamond Foods, Inc.
Richard Simonelli, 650-906-1022 (Media)
Diamond Foods, Inc.
Bob Philipps, 415-445-7426 (Investors)
VP, Treasury & Investor Relations
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.
Nostalgia was definitely the way to go for many of the top advertising agencies that handled the multimillion-dollar accounts for Super Bowl regulars such as Anheuser-Busch, Coke and Pepsi – and newcomers including Tide. But it was also part of a general theme of playing it safe that was pervasive this year. After Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple shocked the world in 2004 and Budweiser featured a chainsaw-wielding madman in 2007, this year’s ads were almost all fun and fit for the family.
“Less brave. No risk,” wrote Publicis US advertising executive Bob Moore, who was live blogging on SuperAdFreak.com. “More talking animals.”
As for the quality, it was a decent year, with several memorable ads and only a couple of catastrophes, including some Chinese stereotype pandas for a Salesgenie.com commercial that seems most likely to result in the first Super Bowl ad apology of the season. (Or maybe not. A Salesgenie exec boasted that his commercials were intentionally bad. In this game, some companies want negative attention.)
Around the blogosphere, the public seemed to be split, with many of the armchair critics acting underwhelmed with the output – while several experts who write about the advertising world suggested it was a pretty good year.
Standouts included a nostalgia-saturated Coke commercial, where giant parade balloons of Underdog and “Family Guy” baby Stewie duke it out over New York for an inflatable bottle of Coke, before it gets swiped by a Charlie Brown balloon. (The special effects were seamless – and after losing the football all those years, it was cathartic to see Chuck come out ahead.) A Tide ad with a talking stain was short, cute and memorable, as was Justin Timberlake getting dragged all over the city for Diet Pepsi Max.
But while the critics like style, the masses often go for the lowest common denominator. Planters Nuts will likely have a fan favorite with its commercial that focuses on a homely girl with a unibrow – who uses cashews as a perfume. And for the second time in four years, a Bud Light advertisement ended with a guy’s date getting torched by fire. At least this time the culprit wasn’t a flatulent horse.
This was also the year for late finishers, which seemed at times to match the thrilling come-from-behind 17-14 victory by the New York Giants. The Coke parade-balloons commercial came at the start of the fourth quarter, which is often a dumping ground for advertisements. And Amp energy drink may have stolen the show with a shirtless overweight guy who hooks up battery cables to his nipples and jump-starts a truck.
That was arguably the raciest ad of the afternoon, and even it had an element of nostalgia – with the Amp guy dancing to the 1986 Salt-n-Pepa song “Push It.” Other music from the past included the 1979 song “Escape (The Pina Colada song)” and “Thriller” from 1984, which featured lizards mimicking the choreography from that song’s video. (Which would have been a hit if we hadn’t all seen the same idea executed better in last year’s viral YouTube video of prisoners in the Philippines doing the same dance.)
The songs weren’t the only blasts from the past. Among the older movies that inspired ads were “The Godfather” for Audi – complete with a cameo by actor Alex Rocco, who played Moe Greene in the movie – and the “Night at the Roxbury” skit for Pepsi, with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by original head-bobber Chris Kattan. There were also a couple of talking baby ads, which seemed left over from the Baby Bob commercials from the dotcom era.
On the SFGate Culture Blog, where readers were commenting on a live blog of the advertisements, opinions of the quality of the 2008 ads seemed split between good and bad, sometimes in the same post.
“I agree Salesgenie ads were shameful and the baby ads were creepy beyond belief,” posted one viewer. “Can’t believe so much money was wasted. The pigeon ad and Pepsi max bopping heads were funny though.”
And with the game remaining interesting until the final seconds, for once the advertisements didn’t even have a chance of stealing the show.
“Wow,” wrote another poster. “For the first time in many years the game is more interesting than the commercials!”
– To read comments about the Super Bowl commercials, go to the Culture Blog at sfgate.com.
The memorable and the squirm-inducing
Three best ads
1. Coke parade balloons: Three cartoon character parade balloons float over New York and fight it out for a bottle of Coke, with Charlie Brown coming out ahead. The visuals were great, it was very sweet and people will remember the product.
2. FedEx pigeons: The competition still delivers packages with carrier pigeons, including some that have Terminator-style cyborg eyesight (yet another 1980s reference) and other giant ones that can throw a car through a window. Very funny and clever.
3. Tide “My Talking Stain”: A job applicant gives his credentials, but all the interviewer can focus on is the gibberish-talking stain on his shirt. This was Tide’s first ad and it hit it out of the park, with something understated and memorable that tied in well to the brand.
Three worst ads
1. Salesgenie.com talking panda: A cartoon panda speaks in a Chinese accent that even Rosie O’Donnell would find offensive – which apparently was all part of the plan to prove that bad publicity is better than none.
2. GoDaddy.com Danica Patrick: GoDaddy once again plays the “we’re-so-controversial-we-got-banned” card, directing viewers to its Web site to see the company’s rejected ad. That commercial is very lame, adding little to the “beaver” joke from “The Naked Gun” while failing in its tease to show Patrick in something skimpy.
3. Doritos “Message from Your Heart”: If we wanted to see some singer we’ve never heard of playing an acoustic guitar, we’d skip the Super Bowl and go to a local coffee shop. Doritos is generally solid, but this was a miss.
- Peter Hartlaub
To see all the Super Bowl ads: www.myspace.com/superbowlads
To read what other viewers had to say about the Super Bowl commercials, go to the Culture Blog on www.sfgate.com
Ranking Super Bowl ads
BEST: Coca-Cola’s commercial featured a tussle between cartoon character balloons.
WORST: Salesgenie.com’s Chinese stereotype pandas should prompt an apology.
BY David Hinckley
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Victoria’s Secret will have an ad during the Super Bowl.
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.
There have been the usual backstage dramas this year, too, and a pair of them are worth noting.
First is Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s offer of $270,000 to any player who does a three-second “chicken dance” on the field. KFC says it would just be “product placement.” The NFL says any player who tries to collect the money might have to cough it all back up in fines.
Second, there were apparently serious discussions among unnamed presidential candidates about buying a Super Bowl spot – a perfect promo, of course, for Super Tuesday less than 48 hours later. Fox ended the speculation by saying it wouldn’t take any political ads, citing concerns about equal time.
In any case, among the dozens of expensive ads, here are a half dozen that may pull some buzz:
He’s launching a massive year-long music giveaway promotion with a spot in which he gets slammed into walls, thrown into traffic and almost flattened like roadkill. Call it a metaphoric version of what happened after his 2004 dance with Janet.
It isn’t every chick shampoo that would buy a Super Bowl ad, and this one even looks like something you’d see during “The View,” with quick-flash imagery designed to say “icon.” Maybe they had to use women because so many guys now shave their heads.
Bud Light, “Breathing Fire.”
Turns out Bud Light not only has satisfying taste, but gives its consumers the ability to breathe fire. This enables our hero to impress his date mightily by lighting the candles on their table, but the rest of the date is more problematic.
GoDaddy, “Spot On.”
GoDaddy had some trouble coming up with an ad that Fox had to reject on grounds of taste. Finally it succeeded – Whew! – and GoDaddy was so happy that the spot we will see on the air sends us to the GoDaddy Web site to see the “other” ad. The forbidden fruit features Danica Patrick and a zipper and maybe a joke involving a flat-tailed animal that builds dams.
There’s been some discussion whether this expensive and elaborate campaign to roll out a new sports drink with Jeter and Dwyane Wade will have the payoff Gatorade wants. The spot is long on Jeter. The question is whether it’s short on humor.
Pepsi, finding the party
This may not be the year’s best ad, but it could be the most striking and it’s a lock to spark major discussion on Monday morning. Several deaf fans, driving to a Super Bowl party, discover they’ve forgotten the address. So they locate the house in a manner that apparently will be recognized instantly in the deaf community and could startle those outside.
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?
Probably not, but in case that ever does happen, here are some crib notes for your first exam: The 13 most important moments in Super Bowl ad history – plus a few lists of Super Bowl obscurities that you can use to impress your friends between commercials featuring flatulent horses and corpses dancing with household appliances.
The quarterback and the angel (1973): Farrah Fawcett lovingly spreads Noxzema shaving cream across Joe Namath’s face in the first high-profile Super Bowl ad. This being the 1970s, nobody protests the obvious sexual innuendos.
Before “Mythbusters,” we watched Master Lock commercials (1974): Someone shoots a bullet into a Master Lock … and the lock still holds! It sounds lame now, but in the mid-1970s this was the only good thing on TV other than “The Rockford Files.”
“Mean” Joe Greene drinks Coke … and the world cries (1980): After a tough game, the limping Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman tosses his jersey to a kid who gives him a Coke – the only Super Bowl commercial to inspire a feature-length TV movie, “The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid.” Seriously. We didn’t make that up.
Apple gets serious (1984): After years of Super Bowl commercials that looked as if they were filmed in a storage locker, Apple hires Ridley Scott for this big-budget play off George Orwell’s “1984,” which upped the ante for Super Bowl ads.
Apple gets a little too serious (1985): The Apple people follow one of the best ads of all time with one of the worst. “Lemmings” features creepy music and the disturbing image of hundreds of people jumping off a cliff.
Find Herb the Nerd (1986): Burger King implores the world to “Find Herb the Nerd” for cash. No one cares. Marketing professors are still talking to their students about how stupid this idea was.
Recyclables play football (1989): Anheuser-Busch unveils the first of eight Bud Bowls, where anthropomorphic bottles and cans compete in their own mini football game. Smart bettors took Bud Light and the spread.
“Over the second rafter, off the floor, nothing but net …” (1993): Larry Bird and Michael Jordan play an increasingly difficult game of Horse for a Big Mac. Each athlete had enough money to buy 10 million Big Macs, but it’s still a great ad.
Frogs and iguanas and weasels – oh my! (1995): The Budweiser frogs (“Bud … Weis … Errrr”) make their first of many Super Bowl appearances, later joined by two iguanas who sound a lot like Billy Crystal and Brad Garrett.
Fred Astaire is alive! (1997): For idiotic reasons that we’ll never know, the grave robbers at Red Devil use special effects to bring Fred Astaire back to life so he can dance with their vacuums.
Spending like there’s no tomorrow (2000): Seventeen dot-coms advertise during this Super Bowl, with entertaining results – including cat-herding cowboys and the ETrade monkey. “We just wasted 2 million bucks” ad.
A nation reflects … and the commercials suffer (2002): The Sept. 11 attacks ensure that almost all of the 2002 ads will be boring. Having the Budweiser Clydesdales kneel in front of the fallen twin towers was a nice idea, though.
Flatulent horses and wardrobe malfunctions (2004): The sleaziest Super Bowl ads arrive, coincidentally, in the exact same year that Janet Jackson exposes herself on national TV. (Mike Ditka’s erectile dysfunction ad, where he throws a ball through a tire, was much dirtier, though.)
On Sunday: Go to the Culture Blog during the game to post your comments on the Super Bowl commercials.
A farting horse, money out the wazoo, and — of course — GoDaddy.com
By Peter Hartlaub
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.
Below are the Top 10 sleaziest advertisements in Super Bowl history. We’re taking the broadest definition of the word, including all forms of vulgarity, from splattering bird poop to mud-wrestling bimbos.
You can decide whether sleaziness in Super Bowl commercials is a good or bad thing. It’s worth noting that most of these ads drew the ire of critics — but were very well-received by the public.
E*Trade “Money out the Wazoo” (2000): The ad consists of a man being wheeled through a busy emergency room, in obvious pain, as various physicians and nurses stare up his rectal cavity and say thing like “Doctor, I think you should see this … he has money coming out of the wazoo!”
Was it funny? Actually, it was pretty hilarious. Imagine if the “South Park” guys directed an episode of “ER.”
Norwegian “There is No Law” (1994): This humorless cruise line ad may have been shot in classy black and white, but the content looked like a “Sex and the City” episode. “There is no law that says you can’t make love at 4 in the afternoon on a Tuesday,” the commercial begins. From there, a naked dude climbs in a hammock. A second ad features people in the shower making out.
Was it funny? Your employer’s sexual harassment training video was funnier than this spot.
Noxzema “Joe Namath” (1973): The New York Jets quarterback looks at the camera and exclaims, “I’m so excited, I’m going to get creamed,” before Farrah Fawcett spreads Noxzema shaving lotion across his face with near-pornographic passion. The word “creamed” is repeated twice more for effect.
Was it funny? No, but this was filmed in 1973, when people still thought Jerry Lewis was amusing.
Nissan “Pigeons” (1997): A squadron of pigeons sets its sights on a Nissan sedan, hoping to pelt it with bird droppings. As “Danger Zone” from the “Top Gun” soundtrack plays, they defecate on everything in sight, but miss their intended target.
Bonus sleaze points: For having the birds ruin a wedding, with a very clear shot of white poop landing in a punch bowl.
Was it funny? Bird feces or no bird feces, this was still one of the more amusing ads of the year — if not the decade.
Victoria’s Secret “Fashion Show” (1999): Advertising for a web-only lingerie fashion show, scores of scantily-clad models traipse in front of the camera. “The Broncos won’t be there. The Falcons won’t be there,” the text scrolling by says. “You won’t care.” Victoria’s Secret later claims 1.2 million visitors to its web site. (A 30-second ad in 1999 cost $1.6 million.)
Was it funny? Not even remotely, although to be fair it wasn’t trying to be.
GoDaddy.com “Proceedings” (2005): One year after Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, “Go Daddy Girl” Nikki Cappelli appears before a shocked Congress, as her tank top strap keeps breaking. One politician has to reach for his oxygen.
Bonus sleaze points: For the pandering GoDaddy executives, who are probably mad that this entry didn’t rank higher on the list.
Was it funny? Not very. The whole GoDaddy “look at us, we’re controversial!” shtick was tired from the beginning.
Cialis “Will You Be Ready?” (2004): The visuals in this advertisement for erectile dysfunction medicine weren’t especially racy, but it featured the 10 most shocking words in the history of the Super Bowl: “Erections lasting longer than four hours may require medical help.”
Bonus sleaze points: The ad was followed by a spot from competitor Levitra, which featured the not-so-subtle sexually-charged image of Mike Ditka throwing a football through a tire.
Was it funny? It probably wasn’t intentional, but these were the funniest ads of the year.
Budweiser “Upside Down Clown” (2003): A man in an inverted clown suit walks in a bar, orders a beer and drinks it through a hole in the costume’s crotch. To the bar patrons (and viewers at home) he appears to be pouring the beverage into his rectum.
Bonus sleaze points: For letting the guy order a hot dog after the beer is gone.
Was it funny? Yes. Did it make people want to drink Budweiser, or much of anything for the next few days? Doubtful.
Anheiser-buschIt’s one thing to steal from Seinfeld, but it’s another thing to be so gross about it.
Bud Light “Sleigh” (2004): A man and woman are riding in a Hansom cab. When the man lights a candle for mood, the horse lifts its tail and farts, torching the girlfriend. In a year where sleazy ads were scrutinized by critics, this was one was almost always mentioned first.
Bonus sleaze points: For giving the boyfriend the one-liner, “Do you smell barbecue?”
Was it funny? It depends if you saw the “Seinfeld” episode where the idea was borrowed from.
A Return to Dalmatians In Effort to Counter Bud’s Super Exclusive
By SUZANNE VRANICA
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.”
It’s not the first time a company has expropriated a competitor’s ad icons for its own commercials. But what makes Miller’s campaign different is the intensity of that effort. Its back-and-forth ad war with Anheuser goes back several years, and over that period Miller has borrowed for its own use not only Dalmatians and Clydesdales, but even sports referees, which Anheuser had used for a series of Bud Light commercials.
With its latest ad, Miller, a unit of SABMiller, is trying to undercut Anheuser during its biggest day of the year, the Super Bowl. Miller — unable to air its spot during the game because Anheuser has paid to be the exclusive alcohol advertiser — will air its new spot about 300 times across 30 other networks such as Walt Disney’s ESPN and Viacom’s Comedy Central. Miller plans to spend $2.5 million to $2.7 million on the spot in the four days leading up to the Super Bowl, according to a person familiar with the matter. After its Super Bowl blitz, the commercial will run well into February.
Miller will try to crash Anheuser’s party in other ways too: The brewer’s 425 distributors will be handing out Dalmatian pins and posters around the country, and it is sending “Miller Girls” and several Dalmatians to Glendale, Ariz., site of the Super Bowl, to mingle at parties.
While Miller clearly faces an uphill battle — Miller Lite has 8.4% of the market compared with Bud Light’s 19.3%, according to industry publication Beer Marketer’s Insights — some analysts believe Bud Light is more vulnerable than ever. “Bud Light is not growing as fast as it was” several years ago, says Mark Swartzberg, a beverage-industry analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.
The beer business is fast gaining a reputation for this kind of slap-each-other marketing. In 2004 and 2005, Miller spent much of its ad arsenal taking shots at Anheuser, and Anheuser responded with its own comparative ads. There was a brief lull, until last fall when Miller returned to that strategy, saying that its sales suffered in 2006 when it went back to playing nice. Anheuser didn’t come out slugging in the fall, but took more of a swipe at its rival with a full-page ad in some newspapers that read: “Keep up the bad work, Miller.”
The latest Miller spot riffs off its ad last fall, which showed a Dalmatian apparently changing allegiances by leaping from a Bud wagon onto a Miller Lite delivery truck.
“We recognize that in an election year there tends to be a lot of negative advertising, and we feel speaking to the quality and virtues of our brands will differentiate us in a cluttered advertising environment,” said David A. Peacock, Anheuser’s vice president of marketing, in a statement.
Miller believes its feisty approach is working. Sales for Miller Lite are up 1.2% since October, says Randy Ransom, Miller’s chief marketing officer.
While ad campaigns that are critical of the competition — or poke fun at it — are a common practice in the fast-food, beverage and other industries, hijacking a rival’s ad icon is somewhat rare, thanks in part to trademark laws. In this case, a Dalmatian is considered part of the public domain, and advertising lawyers say it would be tough to protect its use.
Deb Boyda, Miller’s vice president of content, says the brewer’s new ad “has a little competitive chutzpah.” That’s a bit of an understatement. Anheuser has used the Dalmatian in its ads for decades, and one of its seven Super Bowl commercials this year is expected to show a Dalmatian helping a Clydesdale horse live out his dream.
One big risk for Miller, of course, is that viewers could see the Dalmatian and simply think “Bud” instead of “Miller.” In fact, Anheuser is counting on it.
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.
As of Tuesday, Fox said it had one 30-second spot remaining for the telecast.
Neal Pilson, head of the consulting firm Pilson Communications, said the spot could sell for more than $3 million, topping the $2.7 million advertisers paid for most of the others.
The bonus, he said, comes from an attractive on-field matchup that should draw more than last year’s 93.15 million viewers.
Timberlake, whose 2004 Super Bowl dance with Janet Jackson produced the “wardrobe malfunction” that has chilled broadcast content ever since, will star in a Pepsi spot this year – as will Pepsi’s 60-foot “Gift Monster.”
Pepsi will be joined on the telecast by rival Coca-Cola for the first time since 1998.
Pepsi also will promote its new Gatorade G2 drink with Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade and Yankees captain Derek Jeter, while Frito-Lay’s Doritos hopes it’s rolling out a future star in the winner of its national band competition.
Unilever, one of the few advertisers targeting women, is going for maximum established star power by packing Madonna, Shakira and the late Marilyn Monroe into a 30-second spot for Sunsilk.
The biggest advertiser, as usual, will be Anheuser-Busch, which is drawing great pregame buzz for the spot in which a plucky horse named Hank chases his life-long dream of making the Budweiser Clydesdale team.
Bud Light will get seven of Anheuser-Busch’s nine spots, which Guarino says bodes well for this year’s Super Bowl ads in general.
“Bud Light spots have been really funny,” he says. “And that’s the right idea.”
For the wrong idea, he points to careerbuilder.com, which was praised in 2005 and 2006 for spots in which a man was stuck in an office full of monkeys, then roasted in 2007 for spots where office workers fought each other.
Careerbuilder fired its ad agency right after last year’s Super Bowl, which illustrates how critical this game is in the ad biz.
“It’s the most important showcase,” Guarino says. “You can debate whether it’s worth $2.7 million for one spot, but even if you could spread that money over other shows and get as many viewers, you won’t find anything else where 98% of the audience actually watches the ads.”
At least one ad this year is unlikely to be light. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has signed on again and is expected to deliver its usual somber warning that not all fun is good fun.
By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — 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.
“There’s only a few Super Bowl spots and it’s limited on what celebrities get chosen; after a while, you start to understand the competition between the brands,” Earnhardt said by phone from a commercial shoot in Los Angeles, where he said he and a crew of 30 took over a “nice woman’s café.”
“You start to see how big a deal it is not to bomb,” he said. “It’s important to be at the top of the list. When they go out and spend all this dang money, they don’t want to bomb out.”
Pepsi shot two ads with the NASCAR star and they’re in a pool of ads in testing to see which will get a piece of its two minutes of in-game ad time. With that time valued at about $10 million and more than 90 million people expected to be watching, Pepsi is testing to see if they are game-ready. Either way, the Earnhardt ads will air in the telecast of the Daytona 500.
But Pepsi and Earnhardt hope his ads will help them to a Super Bowl victory lap in USA TODAY’s 20th annual Ad Meter real-time rating of the ads on game day.
Pepsi marketers think Earnhardt’s appeal can help the Amp ads top soft-drink rival Coca-Cola and end Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl Ad Meter winning streak. A-B has taken the checkered flag for the most-liked ad for nine games. Before Anheuser-Busch began its Ad Meter run, Pepsi reigned as king of Big Game ads for six consecutive Super Sundays.
With the Earnhardt ads, Pepsi’s formula has mixed in some of the traditional ingredients of crowd-pleasing Super Bowl ads: celebrity star power and animal antics. In one of the ads, Amp gives Earnhardt the energy to take on a camel (real), in the other a gorilla (human powered). The beasts are meant to represent the forces that drivers endure on a race track at 200 mph.
The bottom line, of course, for Amp marketers is not winning prizes, but raising awareness and sales for the now-No. 5 energy drink brand.
“Energy is a huge growth category,” says Cie Nicholson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Pepsi North America. “We’re excited about Dale Jr. He’s one of the most popular athletes on the planet. There’s so much focus on Junior right now. We think it’s going to be a great year to take advantage of the excitement around Dale. Jr. and NASCAR in general.”
To that end, Earnhardt’s ads are just the start of the year-long marketing calendar for his new sponsor. He’ll be in print and radio ads and on Amp cans this summer.
NEW & NOTABLE
Pimp my flush.
One lucky queen will get a new throne this spring — a bathroom throne that is. To woo the gender that most frequently makes plumbing service calls, Roto-Rooter is launching a “Pimped Out Powder Room” sweepstakes. From Jan. 22 to April 1, visitors to rotorooter.com can register for a chance to win a remodeled bathroom worth $5,000 that comes with a new toilet, pedicure footbath, heated towel rack, flat-screen TV and DVD player. The winner will be crowned on April 25, National Plumber’s Day.
|New England Confectionery|
|Valentine’s candy gives various messages.|
Wonder what the forecast is for your love life on Valentine’s Day? The company that makes Sweethearts treats makes some predictions with new sayings on the heart-shaped candy: Sun Shine, In a Fog, Chill Out and Heat Wave.
The expressions highlight the “unpredictability of day-to-day change of weather and people’s love lives,” explains Lory Zimbalatti, marketing manager at New England Confectionery.
What happens when one publicity stunt piggybacks another? In Manhattan, they both win. Earlier this month, Time Square’s infamous Naked Cowboy (Robert Burck), who strums guitar tunes in his briefs for baffled tourists, suddenly found himself with a warm coat on his bare shoulders.
|Weatherproof Garment founder Freddie Stollmack offers the Naked Cowboy a coat.|
The coat landed courtesy of Freddie Stollmack, founder of Weatherproof Garment, who was aiming for free PR for his $185 Ultra Tech men’s jacket. Stollmack declines to say who he’ll put under wraps next. How about Donald Trump’s hair?
Big Game hunting.
Looking for bang for your Super Bowl ad buck? Feature an unlikely celebrity in a creative ad, then reveal the punch line before the game, advises Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer at buzz-tracking company Cymfony.
That strategy paid off last year for Nationwide Mutual Insurance, which featured Britney Spears’ ex, Kevin Federline, in its ad. The insurer let the world know K-Fed was on board in mid-January, then posted the ad online a week before the game. According to Cymfony, K-Fed beat other Super Bowl ad stars such as Sheryl Crow (Revlon) (REV) and Jessica Simpson (a pregame spot for Pizza Hut) (YUM) to get the most positive buzz in media such as newspapers, TV and the Web.
Among this year’s ads, Nail says a possible Justin Timberlake Pepsi ad already is getting a boatload of buzz.
Pepsi hasn’t made it official that he’s in, but fans seem to be salivating over what would be JT’s first Big Game appearance since his pivotal role in Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in the 2004 halftime.
Reebok’s Super Bowl hit.
Fictional linebacker Terry Tate, at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds, made a big hit in a 2003 Super Bowl ad for Reebok. The spot featured Tate as the Office Linebacker, who enforced office rules such as no goofing off and no personal calls. In the Super Bowl ad, the hulking enforcer took down a worker sneaking in a game of computer solitaire.
We asked readers for favorite Super Bowl ads, and Lloyd Kinlaw, 34, of Longview, Texas, raved about that ad and other Tate commercials that followed: “(They) cracked me up like no other commercials. Tate just wrecks his co-workers out of the blue!”
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.
Procter joins two dozen or so marketers, both well known and would-be, that are paying Fox a record or near-record amount to run commercials in the game. The average cost of each 30 seconds of commercial time is estimated at $2.7 million, compared with $2.6 million for spots in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007.
Fox Broadcasting, part of the News Corporation, has sold all but one of the 63 30-second commercials that it plans to run in the game, a spokesman for Fox Sports, Lou D’Ermilio, said Thursday.
Demand for commercial time in Super Bowl XLII was strong even before the writers’ strike upended the prime-time schedules of the major networks and cast into doubt the fate of popular fare like “C.S.I.,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and the broadcast of the Academy Awards ceremony. As early as the end of October, Fox had only about seven of the 30-second spots in the Super Bowl left to sell. Usually at that time of year, there are two or three times that many slots still unsold.
One reason for that appeal is robust demand for commercial time in all sports programming, Mr. D’Ermilio said, on Fox or not. High demand during the Major League Baseball season last year continued through the spate of college football bowl games that ended Monday with the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Another reason for the ardor for Super Bowl spots is the magnitude of recent changes in the media marketplace. The Super Bowl is one of the few so-called big events that remain available to marketers eager to reach tens of millions of consumers at the same time; more than 90 million Americans typically watch each game.
“It’s the last bastion of mass marketing, with incredible reach,” said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer at Cymfony, a research company that is part of the TNS Media Intelligence unit of Taylor Nelson Sofres.
“If you’ve got to sell a lot of beer or chips, or you have something big to announce, it’s a great venue,” he added, despite steep costs that otherwise may be “really hard to justify.”
Viewers also respond to Super Bowl spots much differently than to commercials in most other TV shows.
Ever since a spectacular Apple commercial called “1984” turned up during the 1984 Super Bowl, consumers have come to expect superior commercials, stuffed with celebrities, special effects, surprise endings, hit music, anthropomorphic animals and other enticements to pay attention.
As a result, rather than change the channel or leave the room for a beer when the selling starts, the audience sticks around, talks about the spots the next day and even goes to Web sites like AOL and YouTube to watch them again.
At every Super Bowl party, there is usually someone “who says, ‘Shhhhhhh! Here comes this cool commercial,’ ” Mr. Nail said.
It is that buzz factor Procter is hoping to capitalize on.
“The Super Bowl is the one time you watch a show and don’t want to miss the commercial breaks,” said Suzanne Watson, Tide brand manager for North America at Procter in Cincinnati.
“Given the wide appeal for Tide to Go and the broad audience for the Super Bowl,” she added, “it’s a perfect fit.”
Tide to Go, which was introduced in 2005, is particularly fitting for a Super Bowl berth, Ms. Watson said, because of its properties as a quick stain remover.
“There are thousands of parties that night,” making Super Bowl Sunday “the biggest stain-based occasion of the year,” she added. “With Tide to Go right there, you don’t have to get up to clean your shirt or pants.”
One reason this year’s Super Bowl has become more desirable for Procter than Super Bowl X or even XX is the growing number of women who tune in the game. In some years, more women have watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars, a show with such potent female appeal that it has been nicknamed on Madison Avenue “the Super Bowl for women.”
Another reason is that Procter has started seeking Tide buyers beyond the traditional market of women, adding pitches aimed at men and students of both sexes.
The Tide to Go commercial will be supported by a wide-ranging marketing campaign, Ms. Watson said, that will include the Internet, public relations and promotions.
Such nontraditional elements “can really connect with consumers outside the laundry room,” she added, “and in their daily lives.”
Ms. Watson declined to discuss details of the campaign or the commercial because, she said, it was too soon.
The Tide to Go commercial is only Procter’s third in the Super Bowl. The first, for Charmin bathroom tissue, ran in 2004. The second, in 2006, was for Gillette, which Procter had acquired months before.
The initial Procter foray into the Super Bowl — in a commercial created by another Publicis agency in New York, Publicis Worldwide — drew mostly negative reviews. It was one of only two spots that Bob Garfield, the ad critic for the trade publication Advertising Age, slighted with 1.5 stars; he gave lower scores to just two spots and higher scores to 31.
“We haven’t been focused on how this TV spot will measure relative to others,” Ms. Watson said. “We just want to do the best in communicating with our consumers.”
Translation from marketing-speak: The pressure is on.
“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?
Football purists will say they hate the ads, but they still seem to talk about them as much as the game itself. A good Super Bowl might get lost in your memory, but a good Super Bowl ad will be embedded in your brain for years to come. Chances are you remember every line and camera angle from Coke’s famous “Mean Joe Greene” commercial from 1979. But can you name the two teams that played the same year?
The rise in publicity for Super Bowl ads, big halftime shows and other off-field stunts are no accident. Although the Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl have fallen over the decades, the game-watching demographic has widened to include more women and men who don’t like the sport.
“Originally it was just a football game, and guys who liked football were the ones who watched it,” says Don Bruzzone of Alameda’s Bruzzone Research Co., which has been measuring the effectiveness of Super Bowl commercials since 1992. “And then all of a sudden it grew into an extravaganza that would appeal to almost everybody.”
Super Bowl advertisements will cost about $2.6 million for a 30-second spot this year. (They cost a “mere” $324,000 when the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982.)
Bruzzone’s Paul Shellenberg says in terms of who’s advertising, 2007 is looking a lot like 2006 — with regulars such as Budweiser and Pepsi returning with several spots. As of Monday afternoon, there were fewer movie spots scheduled than usual, although Shellenberg said the studios often wait until the last minute.
The ads are a huge gamble for advertisers. Bruzzone’s research shows that a successful commercial gives a buyer eight times the impact of an ad that doesn’t resonate.
The price for an ad has become a punch line, which has even been used in the commercials themselves. When all the figures are added up, though, Bruzzone says research shows that advertisers aren’t throwing away their money.
“There are a lot of intelligent people making decisions about this sort of thing,” Bruzzone says. “They’re priced at just about what they’re worth.”
Bruzzone doesn’t keep track of which are “good years” and “bad years” for Super Bowl advertisers. Fortunately, we do. What surrounds this article is a sincere and enthusiastic — while not especially objective — attempt to determine whether the ads are, in fact, more entertaining than the game.
My methodology was simple, if not scientific: I’ve already watched every game for the past 10 years, and I spent several afternoons last week watching Super Bowl ads archived on YouTube and the very helpful Superbowl-ads.com Web site.
You can decide whether it’s worth your time to add up my winners and losers to find out who’s ahead — but I will reveal that it’s close. Look for a Monday morning SFGate.com Culture Blog entry that determines whether Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials were better than the game.
The game: Green Bay 35, New England 21
The ads: Fred Astaire dances with a Dirt Devil vacuum and Holiday Inn promotes their renovations by joking about a guy who has undergone a sex change.
Final score: Neither side wanted to win. The game was predictably one-sided — Brett Favre (left) and the Packers were favored by 14 points and won by 14 points — but the ads were worse, including a digitally enhanced Astaire corpse and Holiday Inn’s big “screw you” to the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Football 9, commercials 2
The ads: Louie the Lizard tries killing off the Budweiser frogs, while a guy eating a lot of Tabasco spells doom for a mosquito that tries to suck his blood.
Final score: Terrell Davis running over the heavily favored Packers was cool, as was the sight of John Elway receiving his first Super Bowl ring. But it’s hard to beat an exploding bug. Commercials 31, football 24
The ads: The Monster.com “When I Grow Up” ads spoof corporate culture, Budweiser has a firehouse dalmatian puppy spot and Victoria’s Secret’s sexy ad proves that horny men are still the primary Super Bowl demographic.
Final score: Not sure what was more annoying — Just for Feet’s semi-racist ad that appeared to feature white guys tranquilizing a black runner from Kenya or the Atlanta Falcons’ stupid “dirty bird” dance. The ads gain the edge when Falcons safety Eugene Robinson gets arrested for solicitation of prostitution the night before the game. Commercials 14, football 10
The ads: E-Trade unveils its classic dancing monkey/”We just wasted 2 million bucks” commercial and EDS features its memorable spot about cat herders.
Final score: This is why TiVo was invented. The 2000 Super Bowl and commercial-fest were both so entertaining that there was literally no time to urinate. With arguably the most entertaining Super Bowl of all time and the best commercials falling on the same year, there can be no losers. Commercials 42, football 42 (tie)
The ads: Cedric the Entertainer shills for Budweiser, Bob Dole shills for Pepsi and EDS features the “running of the squirrels.”
Final score: Not a great year for commercials — does anyone even know what EDS sells? But the ads were still way better than this defense-oriented game, which featured the coma-inducing combination of Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins as starting quarterbacks. Commercials 15, football 6
The ads: Charles Schwab features Barry Bonds, the Coen brothers direct an H&R Block commercial and several ads feature 9/11 tributes.
Final score: The post-9/11 commercials were classy, but became repetitive — and in retrospect, the Barry Bonds/Hank Aaron home run goof looks like something that should be turned over to the grand jury. The football game was a lot better, with Adam Vinatieri (above) kicking a last-minute field goal to seal the win. Football 28, commercials 17
The ads: Reebok’s Terry Tate: Office Linebacker, the “Cast Away” movie spoof and a Clydesdale football instant replay commercial all generate big laughs.
Final score: The only thing uglier than Budweiser’s crude “Upside Down Clown” ad was the Raiders’ game plan, which gave up 34 unanswered points to former Oakland coach Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers. The refs almost had to invoke the mercy rule in this contest. Commercials 72, football 0
The ads: A Sierra Mist commercial featuring a bagpiper getting cold air blown up his kilt looks like a Jane Austen film next to Budweiser’s flatulent horse. The 78 other ads seem to be focused on erectile dysfunction.
Final score: Everything went right during the game — a great contest between the Panthers and Patriots — and everything went wrong between plays. Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” (above) highlighted the crude and unoriginal commercials, which led to audience outrage and FCC action. Football 41, commercials minus 212
The ads: Diddy arrives at the red carpet in a Pepsi truck, Budweiser introduces a trash-talking cockatiel, and Ameriquest has a couple of decent-but-forgettable mistaken-identity ads.
Final score: Even though we didn’t have to see Mickey Rooney’s bare bottom (it was banned by the fun police), this was definitely a rebuilding year for the ad industry. Meanwhile, Tom Brady, linebacker Mike Vrabel (left) and the Patriots held off the Eagles and Terrell Owens, who stopped acting crazy for a few hours and added some drama by playing hurt. Football 35, commercials 3
The ads: A caveman gets chided for not using FedEx (it hasn’t been invented yet), Jim Henson’s Muppets are everywhere and the “magic fridge” gets Budweiser back on track.
Final score: The Seahawks didn’t come to play and neither did many of the advertisers, but at least we got to see a prehistoric dude get stomped on by a brontosaurus. Commercials 10, football 9
By William Spain, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — 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.”
Already one of the most talked-about ads so far, Nationwide’s campaign got an extra shot in the arm this week when the head of the National Restaurant Association attacked it as demeaning to the industry’s workers and threatened to make his group’s “membership — many of whom are customers of Nationwide — know the negative implications this ad portrays of the restaurant industry.”
Sure, he’s been put on the defensive, but the ad’s a success nonetheless: The response to it did “drum up another week of coverage for us,” Schreibman said.
While Nationwide has managed to reap a standout bonanza, a big payoff in press and word of mouth is what marketers have come to expect — even demand — when they’re shelling out upwards of $80,000 a second for TV time on the Super Bowl, carried this year by CBS Sports.
Officially, CBS is asking sponsors to pay about $2.6 million for a 30-second spot in the Feb. 4 game. However, few, if any, companies actually pay the full rate, according to industry executives.
What advertisers really crave is eyeballs — millions and millions of them. And when it comes to delivering them all at once and in real-time, the Super Bowl has no equal, especially as TV viewership divides and sub-divides among the hundreds of channels now available on cable and satellite.
“It’s fragmentation-proof, or least fragmentation-resistant,” said Jason Maltby, president of national broadcast for MindShare, a media-buying firm owned by WPP Group. “You are reaching almost 1 out of every 2 Americans. Nothing else in any media even comes close.”
In addition, “there is a much higher level of attention and engagement with the commercials,” he added.
Among those lining up for this years’ Super Bowl are longtime stalwarts like Anheuser-Busch Cos. (with nine spots, the largest single advertiser), PepsiCo and Fedex Corp. They will be joined by rookies including Garmin, which makes global-positioning systems, and King Pharmaceuticals Inc. Some advertisers, such as PepsiCo’s Doritos brand and the NFL itself, are even letting viewers create their own ads this time.
There are almost as many different goals and different measures of success for Super Bowl ad as there are advertisers buying time. Some aren’t expecting to see any immediate results and are just building or maintaining awareness of their brands. Others look to drive traffic to their Web sites. And still others want to see an immediate move in the sales needle.
“If you are lucky, your one spot out of 60-something is projected onto the national stage and has people talking about it,” said Peter Stabler, director of communications strategy for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, a San Francisco-based ad agency owned by Omnicom Group. “You get an outsized awareness beyond [the] aggregated ratings points.”
This year, that awareness could be larger than ever. Minutes after the conclusion of the game, Google will have a link on its home page to a YouTube.com site featuring every single commercial that aired during the Super Bowl — and Stabler expects millions of hits from that.
“For the first time, you are going to have really meaningful viewership of the spots once they have been disconnected from the game,” Stabler said.
Super Bowl ads can also help haul in huge, immediate bottom-line contributions, marketers say. One of Goodby’s clients, Diamond Foods, will be in the game for the third year running. The cost of admission and all the support behind it is a big investment for a company that had less than $500 million in sales in its latest fiscal year. Diamond’s Emerald Nuts, launched in 2004, bought Super Bowl ads in both 2005 and 2006, a strategy it directly credits for boosting sales 56% and 36%, respectively and lifting them into the No. 2 seller in the category behind Kraft Foods’ 100-year-old Planter’s brand.
“They’ve been very happy,” Stabler said. “It has been a very powerful tool for them to leverage their retail partnerships.”
Then there is always simple self-defense. For instance, Coca-Cola will return to the Super Bowl this year after a long absence during which it essentially ceded the field to archrival PepsiCo.
The move, coinciding with Coke’s stagnant soft-drink sales and turmoil in its marketing division, won applause from at least one to beverage industry consultant.
“I thought it was one of the biggest bone-headed moves of all time for Coke to let Pepsi dominate the Super Bowl,” said Tom Pirko, head of consultancy Bevmark. “You cannot allow your ace competitor to have undivided attention in the biggest public spectacle in the country.”
In most sporting events, TV commercials aim their message at men. But in addition to its sheer mass audience, the Super Bowl also offers marketers exposure to an extraordinary range of consumers.
“The reach is enormous and you get every demographic,” said Bill Cella, vice chairman of Interpublic’s DraftFCB ad agency. “And it goes on all day, with huge [group] audiences.”
Indeed, the group dynamic can make all the difference, he said, as a lone couch potato tends to be a passive viewer than when he or she is surrounded by friends and family.
“They talk about the ads more. I think they are more engaged,” Cella said.
Some viewers will be remarkably well engaged — some of then actually created a few of the ads this year. General Motors, Frito-Lay and the NFL itself all reached out to the public for ideas and cherry-picked the very best to air in the game.
“That’s this year’s flavor,” remarked MindShare’s Maltby. “It’s definitely a hot-button issue and they are trying to leverage this fascination with user-generated content.”
But is it the wave of the future? Will amateurs knock high-powered ad agency creative teams out of their biggest showcase of the year?
“Let’s just see how it resonates,” Maltby said.
By Suzanne Vranica and Brian Steinberg, The Wall Street Journal
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.
“Water-cooler talk is really important. It’s a measure of success,” says Ms. Coulis, vice president for brand management at Anheuser. “If you can get the commercial to be part of pop culture, it makes the ad more memorable.” Scoring big with viewers also helps galvanize retailers and wholesalers, important constituents in the selling of beer, particularly in the months leading up to the big summer beer selling season.
The Super Bowl is the only TV program whose viewers rate ads in several online and newspaper polls. Anheuser is serious about winning top ranking in those polls, include those conducted by The Wall Street Journal and Gannett Co.’s USA Today.
Anheuser spots have regularly come out on top in various post-game rankings over the past several years, a sign of how the brewer has perfected the science of Super Bowl ads. The game ads are about “setting up a story, telling a joke and having an unexpected twist at the end,” Ms. Coulis says.
A high-ranking spot for Bud Light last year showed a man attempting to sky dive. A six-pack tossed out of the plane enticed the nervous man to take the plunge. The surprise ending? The pilot abandoned the plane in pursuit of the beer.
In this year’s broadcast, airing Feb. 5 on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, Anheuser is expected to follow the winning formula down to the last gag. In one spot likely to appear, which Anheuser previewed before so reporters Tuesday, two slacker guys try to escape from a grizzly bear, and Bud Light helps save the day. In another, Anheuser’s veteran Super Bowl pitchman, Cedric the Entertainer, walks down the aisle to score a pack of Bud Light. The brewer says the spots’ secret, final plot twist is a maneuver that will help them score with viewers in the Super Bowl Sunday polling.
“Generally, you have to have a joke or pay off at the end of the commercial to win,” says Bob Scarpelli, world-wide chief creativity officer at Omnicom Group’s DDB, who has worked on dozens of Super Bowl ads over the years for Anheuser-Busch and others. He refers to the unexpected ending as “the reveal.”
Anheuser’s marketing machine starts working on its Super Bowl spots months before the game. Several of the agencies from Anheuser’s roster crafted about 50 spots. In the end, Anheuser will choose only about 10 of them to run during the game. (The others will probably be used in other campaigns.) The decision-making isn’t done yet, with Ms. Coulis and her marketing team conducting focus groups through this week to help select the ones that will air. The research team has been traveling to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas and elsewhere to meet with more than 500 consumers and assess their reaction to the ads.
In past years, Anheuser’s focus groups used electronic devices to chart individuals’ second-by-second reactions to the spots — devices similar to ones used by USA Today for its Super Bowl ad poll.
Anheuser tests are set to continue until just days before the game. The brewer is known for making last minute changes to its Super Bowl ads, as late as even a day before the game. And the work doesn’t end with the broadcast: A handful of Anheuser executives stay up late on Super Bowl Sunday to call reporters and surf the Web for a sense of how they did in various polls.
The obsession over one telecast underscores how valuable the Super Bowl has become as a mass-market advertising arena, in an increasingly fragmented media world. The broadcast not only draws an audience roughly four times as big as most popular TV shows, but it also draws an audience that is very likely to be watching the ads and not using TiVo-like devices to skip through commercial breaks.
That helps drive the price of spots skyward: This year, prices are running as high as $2.5 million for a 30-second spot, up from $2.4 million last year. The ad inventory of roughly 60 30-second spots, isn’t quite sold out: A handful of spots are still available, a person familiar with the situation says.
Advertisers are returning to more spectacular ads this year, after having toned down their Super Bowl spots last year, when Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the half-time show at the 2004 Super Bowl was still a vivid memory. “The Super Bowl didn’t have a special feel, and the ads reflected that,” says Rob Reilly, a creative executive at a hot Miami agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
Indeed, last year Anheuser steered clear of raunchy and sophomoric humor: One ad showed people applauding as military personnel walked through an airport.
But Super Bowl advertisers face risks if they deviate too far from expectations. PepsiCo Inc., famous for its celebrity-stuffed Super Bowl spots, tried something different in 2004 and highlighted the compatibility of its beverages with food. The ads didn’t score well with viewers.
This year, one of Pepsi’s Super Bowl ads is expected to feature comedian Jay Mohr in the role of a Hollywood agent representing Diet Pepsi. A slew of celebrities line up to work with the cool beverage. “There is no doubt that celebrities add excitement and fun, but in the end the commercial has to tie into our brand,” says Nicole Bradley, a Pepsi spokeswoman. “The goal is to make sure people are talking about our commercial the day after Super Bowl and the weeks following the game.”
Others also are counting on celebrity magic include Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., whose commercial will feature Fabio, the buff, long-haired heartthrob. Leonard Nimoy, of ‘Star Trek’ fame, will hawk Aleve, the Bayer AG pain reliever.
Big production numbers are back this year. Burger King Corp. plans to air an elaborate, 60-second ad that takes its cue from a Broadway musical, starring 92 glamorous “Whopperettes” dressed as burgers, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes and singing and dancing to new lyrics for the famous “Have It Your Way” jingle. Another big production number is expected from Unilever’s Degree for Men deodorant, featuring some 30 stuntmen, stunt women and stunt kids. In the ad, a man falls from a window, and a motorbike crashes through a glass window pane.
Humor isn’t the only Super Bowl ad gimmick. Animals are another proven vote-getter. Anheuser is expected to bring back the Clydesdale horses. And careerbuilder.com, a job Web site owned by Gannett, Tribune Co. and Knight Ridder Inc., will run two spots featuring monkeys at the office.
By STUART ELLIOTT
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.
According to TNS Media Intelligence, a division of Taylor Nelson Sofres that tracks ad spending, Anheuser-Busch paid $230.5 million for Super Bowl spots from 1986 through 2005, 28 percent more than the next largest spender, PepsiCo, at $180 million.
During Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5, to be broadcast by ABC, Anheuser-Busch plans to run five minutes of spots for brands like Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select and new Michelob Ultra Amber. The company is considering about 15 commercials and will probably end up with 8 or 9; Ms. Coulis expects to finish winnowing them down by the middle of next week.
ABC, part of the Walt Disney Company, is selling each 30 seconds of commercial time during the game for an estimated average of $2.5 million, up from the $2.4 million that Fox Broadcasting charged during the Super Bowl last February. Major advertisers like Anheuser-Busch usually get better rates, although the company has to spend an additional unspecified sum to remain the exclusive beer sponsor during the game, which it has been since 1989.
When Ms. Coulis took over for Mr. Lachky, who was promoted, she became the first woman and the first Hispanic to supervise brand management – and the Super Bowl roster – for America’s largest brewer. She had previously been involved in research among consumers to gauge their opinions of Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl commercials.
“If there’s a new piece of insight I brought to our agencies it’s that we have a lot of female beer drinkers, a lot of coed beer-drinking situations,” Ms. Coulis said yesterday during an interview in Midtown Manhattan.
“They love beer,” Ms. Coulis said of the women who consume an estimated 20 percent of the company’s beer volume. “And they’re influencers, they have influence over brand choice,” she added, “so we want to make sure we equally appeal to males and females.”
That has not always been the case when it came to creating Anheuser-Busch beer ads, particularly the humorous pitches for Bud Light, the company’s best-selling brand. For many years, critics complained that the commercials were juvenile, sophomoric, even coarse, appealing more to jejune fraternity boys than mature adults.
In 2004, for instance, characters in the Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl commercials included a flatulent horse, a crotch-biting dog, a male monkey wooing a woman and a man whose accidental bikini-wax treatment was played for laughs. The brouhaha over Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” that year led to a reaction against salacious Super Bowl content, which led Anheuser-Busch to promise to clean up its act. As a result, the commercials last year were much tamer.
“We always want our agencies to push the envelope,” Ms. Coulis said, “but at the end of the day we want to make sure we’re properly representing the brands.”
For 2006, the goal is not “just to make a joke for a joke’s sake,” she added, but rather to infuse the commercials with the kind of humor “that will make sure drinkers find the brands appealing.”
That guidance seems to have been followed by the agencies creating the spots that Ms. Coulis is deciding among, based on a look she offered at a dozen of the 15 spots being considered. The approaches are generally broad but not burlesque, the situations silly but not stupid.
For instance, one Bud Light commercial, which shows the unintended consequences of stocking a “secret” refrigerator with Bud Light, has a clever premise and a hilarious punch line. The spot is created by DDB Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group.
A commercial being considered for Budweiser Select is sophisticated enough to show a couple playing chess, a pursuit that rarely if ever has made its way into a Super Bowl spot. That commercial is being created by Peterson Milla Hooks, an agency best known for its glossy, offbeat campaigns for Target; it is the agency’s first work for the brand and for Anheuser-Busch.
A possible Budweiser spot tugs at the heart strings rather than hammering at the funny bone. That spot, by DDB, shows a junior Clydesdale getting some uncredited help from its parents.
Ms. Coulis said all the commercials chosen for the Super Bowl will be available for downloading immediately after the game from two Web sites, budlight.com and budweiser.com. “That’s the way we have to be thinking about our advertising,” Ms. Coulis added. “As we look to reach the ever-elusive, contemporary adult audience, we’ve got to understand where they want to be reached.”
More spots rated G; no longer a ‘beer-drinking event’
By William Spain, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — 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.
But as the event has evolved from a male-dominated sports program to a family affair — and following howls of outrage over alleged indecencies ranging from Janet Jackson’s exposed breast to a dot-com ad making fun of it — so has the scrutiny over what kind of commercial messages are appropriate.
“This has been a very top-of-mind subject for us,” said Mark Monteiro, executive creative director of DDB Los Angeles, an Omnicom Group (NYSE:OMC) company. He declined to discuss the content of the Super Bowl commercial his firm did this year for Ameriquest Mortgage Co., but said: “The Super Bowl audience has changed over the last few years from a guys’ beer-drinking event. Somewhere along the line, it truly turned into family entertainment, family viewing.”
Unlike virtually all other sports programming, in the Super Bowl, “it seems there really is 50% women and kids in the room,” which has had a significant impact on the content of the ads, Monteiro added.
And this year, he noted, the game will be on ABC rather than Fox, a part of News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) . ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) , “is considered the toughest censor of all the networks we deal with.”
Advertisers typically stay mum about details of their ads until they air, or a short time before that. A spot for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) by JWT Detroit, a unit of WPP Group (LSE:UK:WPP) remains cloaked in secrecy but it will be “super G-rated,” said an executive familiar with the ad.
In a preview by Advertising Age, it appears that humor — clean humor — is likely to be the order of the day. Among them: Burger King has its “King” going up against football players while Careerbuilder.com will bring back its company-running monkeys, the trade magazine reported.
While all broadcasters set basic minimum standards and practices for both programming and ads, how far they’re willing to bend the guidelines depends on audience makeup and other factors.
ABC declined to go into specifics about how standards and practices may vary from say, Monday Night Football, to the Super Bowl. But in a written statement, an ABC spokeswoman said the network is aware the Super Bowl can draw the biggest television audience of the year, and “we routinely require the highest standards for all the material broadcast.”
That audience is indeed enormous: Last year, Fox drew the highest rating in its history as a network with an estimated 86.1 million viewers — down a bit from the 89.8 million pairs of eyeballs CBS (NYSE:CBS) pulled in 2004. By contrast, that is more than double what Fox drew for the NFC Championship on Sunday and better than triple the average for the highest-rated primetime program, “CSI.”
Among the advertisers looking to get in front of that crowd are Burger King, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) , Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) , Ameriquest, PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) and General Motors (OTHER:MTLQQ) . Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) is the largest single buyer, with a total of 10 spots throughout the game, and all of the marketers are seeking mass reach in varying degrees.
However, almost as compelling as the number of people who watch is how they watch it, according to one top media buyer.
“The viewing dynamic is unlike anything else in media,” said Tim Spengler, director of national broadcast at Initiative, a media buying and planning arm of Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG) . “The attention paid to the commercials is greater there than anywhere else in TV.”
Because the ads are watched in, and critiqued by, groups of viewers, they can generate a more intense audience response, he said.
“If you watch a sitcom at home alone, the chances of you laughing out loud at something are less than if you are watching it with five friends,” Spengler said.
That means Super Bowl ads also attract closer scrutiny from the broadcasters: “There is no greater spotlight. There is absolutely no ability to hide anything. Where they might look the other way, they won’t in this case.”
Neither will the media. The advertisements are endlessly written and talked about — even shown for free — in the days before and after the game, giving advertisers the biggest possible bangs for their very big bucks.
“The ads carry with them the potential to create an extended conversation around the copy,” said Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer of Intelliseek, a research firm. That means a “word-of-mouth multiplier” which can add significantly to a campaign’s return on investment, he said.
An ad that bores or offends, or one that is just tailored too narrowly for such a broad audience, can eat away at that added value, he said.
Even the best spots can be overshadowed by circumstances beyond the advertiser’s control, Blankenship pointed out. The Janet Jackson incident of two years ago “siphoned off the water-cooler conversation.”
Deliberately pushing the envelope can be its own reward in terms of getting extra attention.
Las Vegas always makes a fuss that it can’t promote the city during the game because of the NFL’s ban on any gambling-related commercials. Last year, GoDaddy.com, an Internet service company, parodied the Jackson brouhaha in a risqué ad, and Fox pulled it after one of two scheduled showings during the game.
This year, it has submitted, and resubmitted, another ad that it says ABC keeps rejecting.
In a written statement, GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons said, “It would be disappointing if the Super Bowl, which has long been known as the world’s stage for the most innovative and cutting-edge advertisements, lost its relevance for adventurous companies…”
Joe Mandese, editor of MediaPost, which covers the advertising and industry, said submitting ads that get rejected has generated barrels of free ink for GoDaddy, which will reap the benefits of Super Bowl hype — even if its spot never makes it onto the air.
“Remember,” he said, “when they get into a pissing match with ABC about buying an ad, they are also getting guys like us to write about it.”