- Friday, Feb. 5, 2016
While the NFL switched from Roman numerals to a simple 50 for this year’s Super Bowl which will be telecast by CBS on Feb. 7, the numbers game continues to go merrily upward on the advertising front. CBS said that ad time for some of the Super Bowl 50 :30s has fetched a per slot price of some $5 million. This continues a trend that has held true over the long haul as the premium for delivering a mega TV audience has only escalated in this era of media fragmentation. Last year, Super Bowl spot buys went for an average of $4.4 million per :30, up from $4.2 million in 2014. Back in 2006, the average commercial :30 timeslot went for $2.5 million.
The Super Bowl now routinely draws in excess of 100 million viewers, generating not only eyeballs but also much proverbial water cooler/social media talk. And commercials are in many mainstream circles as hot a topic as the game itself.
As for the ad creative barometer, while the overall crop of Super Bowl commercials has been known to disappoint at times, there have also been some gems in recent years. For example, cracking the Top 5 in SHOOT’s rundown of The Best Spots of 2015 was Snickers’ “Brady Bunch” directed by Jim Jenkins of O Positive for BBDO New York. Making its TV debut during Super Bowl XLIX, the Snickers ad featured a very hungry Marsha Brady, portrayed by movie star Danny Trejo, throwing an uncharacteristic tantrum until given a Snickers by her parents. Her hunger satiated, Marsha returns back into everyone’s favorite girl next door while fans experience another enjoyable moment with surprise guest Steve Buscemi playing Jan Brady who’s flown off the handle due to hunger pangs.
Fast forward to today and Snickers is slated to be back on the Super Bowl, again via BBDO but with much to live up to given the popularity of the “Brady Bunch” commercial. A teaser spot directed by Jenkins served as a taste of what’s in store as a hungry “Marilyn Monroe” is shown preparing to reprise her iconic “Happy Birthday” performance—although with a far less seductive voice. And at press time, Snickers posted its Big Game spot which takes us back to 1955 on the set of the movie The Seven Year Itch. In the :30, the hungry Monroe transforms into a cranky version of herself, played by actor William Dafoe.
Anheuser-Busch (A-B) also has much to live up to as the Super Bowl’s exclusive beer advertiser for the 28th year in a row. The brewer will be bowing spots promoting Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and first-time Big Game advertiser Shock Top. A-B is slated to run three full minutes of advertising in this year’s game. Budweiser fare will reportedly include the famed Clydesdales but reportedly no cuddly puppy fare which had made its mark each of the previous two years. On the comedy front, Bud Light has enlisted Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan for a spot from Wieden+Kennedy New York rolling out “The Bud Light Party,” a political party that brings together voters who can’t agree on the issues but can fully support drinking Bud Light.
Among other food/drink advertisers slated for Super Bowl 50 are: a Butterfinger spot from WPP ad shop Santo; Avocados From Mexico which is running a Super Sunday ad for the second straight year via GSD&M, Austin, Texas; Skittles which too is on tap for a second consecutive year out of DDB Chicago, this time with an ad featuring Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler; Taco Bell with a :30 from Deutsch LA; and the user-generated Doritos spot which comes out the winner of the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest.
The Doritos contest has been pared down to three finalists; the one garnering the most votes will air during the Super Bowl telecast. One contender features cute dogs. Another shows an ultrasound test in which a pregnant woman feels the repercussions of her hubby’s penchant for Doritos. And a third features a dating app with all the wrong matches for a guy, until he meets Doris Roberts (of Everybody Loves Raymond fame) who sweeps him off his feet—or more accurately his tastebuds.
The automotive category is also again prevalent on Super Sunday. Both Honda and its luxury brand Acura will run spots. Mullen Lowe LA is turning out an ad for Acura’s new NSX supercar which will air during the first quarter of the game. Agency RPA, Santa Monica, is handling the Honda commercial.
Buick, BMW’s Mini, Toyota Prius and Hyundai are also confirmed as Big Game players. Buick’s :30 will promote its new Cascada convertible and feature NY Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and actress Emily Tatajkowski from the thriller Gone Girl. INNOCEAN Worldwide has four Hyundai spots scheduled—one during the pre-game, another prior to kickoff and two during the first half. Directors tabbed for the commercials are Peter Berg (whose feature credits include Lone Survivor; his spot roost being Pony Show Entertainment), Fredrik Bond (of production house MJZ), Aaron Stoller (whose spotmaking roost is Biscuit Filmworks), and Janusz Kaminski, a two time Oscar-winning (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan) cinematographer who directs commercials via Independent Media. Among those featured in the Hyundai campaign are Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds.
Another prime car advertiser is Kia, with creative coming out of David&Goliath, Los Angeles. Actor Christopher Walken and a very colorful sock will add oomph to a :60 promoting the 2016 Kia Optima sedan. The spot is slated to run during the third quarter of the game.
And Audi is rolling out a spot from Venables, Bell & Partners, San Francisco, directed by Craig Gillespie of MJZ.
The Super Bowl is also perfectly timed to when folks start contemplating their income tax returns. Intuit’s TurboTax kicked off an “It doesn’t take a genius to do your taxes” campaign last month directed by Randy Krallman of Smuggler for Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore. The ads feature some of the world’s greatest minds who are brought in to show that TurboTax is so simple and intuitive that even real-life geniuses can’t make it any easier to use or understand. The resulting moments are amusingly awkward as the real geniuses— a theoretical physicist, mathematician and computer scientist—discover that they’re entirely redundant when it comes to helping people file their taxes with TurboTax.
That campaign will continue or perhaps a new wrinkle will unfold with a :30 during the Super Bowl, marking TurboTax’s third consecutive year on the Big Game. Greg Johnson, sr. VP of marketing for Intuit’s Consumer Tax Group, said, “We’re excited to bring TurboTax back to the Big Game, reaching millions of consumers at a time when their taxes and their tax refund are top of mind.”
Intuit will also hand over a :30 Super Sunday commercial to Death Wish Coffee, winner of its “Small Business, Big Game” contest; agency is RPA.
Making its Super Bowl debut will be SunTrust Banks with a :30 directed by Dante Ariola of MJZ for agency StrawberryFrog, New York.
Other Big Game first timers are: Amazon with a spot from Leo Burnett Toronto featuring Alec Baldwin and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino; PayPal with a 45-second spot slated for the first quarter from agency CP+B; LG Electronics with a commercial directed by Jake Scott of RSA Films; Colgate with a water conservation spot encouraging folks to turn off the tap water while brushing their teeth; outdoor apparel brand Marmot with work out of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco; and Apartments.com via agency RPA and featuring Jeff Goldblum and Lil Wayne.
Animation studio DreamWorks is producing a :30 which brings Wix.com back to the Big Game for the second straight year. In 2015, Wix went the live-action route with a Super Bowl comedy spot which had former star NFL players creating new businesses for themselves—and promoting those tongue-in-cheek ventures through websites they built on Wix.com.
Also slated for Big Game duty is digital publishing platform Squarespace with a spot conceptualized by NY agency Anomaly.
While the norm of yesteryear had Super Bowl spots debuting during the game telecast, in recent years more sponsors have been teasing or outright showing their spots online prior to game day, subscribing to the notion that this earlier exposure serves to generate more buzz for their messages. Still, there’s something to be said for the element of complete surprise as some advertisers hold to the custom of keeping their spots under wraps until their actual big broadcast buy airing. Both strategies will again be on full display this year.