Bowl ads: Lots of movie trailers, office politics

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

Have a great Super Bowl ad idea?

It may not be too late to sign up for the ABC broadcast. At the end of the week, ABC still had a few 30-second ad slots up for grabs — good news for an advertiser looking to get a deep discount on the average $2.5 million price tag.

MasterCard took advantage with a late entry, signing on late last week. They didn’t get the choicest real estate — the ad will air in the fourth quarter — but Amy Fuller, who oversees marketing in the Americas, says every quarter is worth it: “The ratings hold strong. There isn’t a dud quarter. It’s a good value.”

MasterCard features actor Richard Dean Anderson, TV’s MacGyver, using his MasterCard debit card to buy common items (a tube sock, a paper clip and an air freshener) that he uses to get out of a jam in true MacGyver fashion. “We have a great message that will hold up to the very high standards of people’s expectations,” she says.

What Super Bowl viewers — an estimated 90 million this Sunday — have come to expect from ads is to be entertained. It’s the one TV event where viewers pay nearly as much attention to the ads as the game. For that reason, ABC is not worried about selling the remaining ad slots.

“We feel really good about where we are,” says Ed Erhardt, head of sales and marketing for ABC and ESPN. “We’ll be sold out at game time.”

Taking one of the last slots on Thursday was The domain-name company finally got the OK from ABC for a racy ad after its 14th revision. GoDaddy President Bob Parsons said they didn’t pick a fight just to drum up more buzz.

“We got a lot of publicity, and we’re very happy about that, but this was always about getting the ad approved.”

GoDaddy now has the OK to join more than 25 advertisers that will fill 30 minutes of ad time during the game.

Among trends in the ads:

Office politics. In a Bud Light ad, a plan to hide bottles of the brew throughout an office to motivate employees leads to havoc. Job site CareerBuilder, part-owned by USA TODAY parent Gannett, brings back its office chimps from the Super Bowl last year. “Monkeys resonate with consumers because we can all relate to office situations that are difficult,” says Richard Castellini, CareerBuilder’s vice president of consumer marketing.

Global perspectives. Some of the ads this year for this most American of events are global themes from global ad agencies. For example, Degree for Men’s stunt-themed ads, by Lowe Worldwide, aired around the world last year.

Motorola’s Pebl phone ad, by 180 Amsterdam, began to run last fall. “This ad was not created with Super Bowl in mind,” says Adam Chasnow, 180’s creative director. “It’s not designed to have the quick hit, but it’s visually stunning.”

Movie madness. The game continues to be a popular venue for Hollywood to hype its blockbuster hopefuls.

Paramount has one ad to promote Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III. New Line has an ad for Running Scared.

Disney Studios, which will advertise a remake of The Shaggy Dog, even created a special ad for the game instead of just showing a movie trailer. In the ad, sportscaster Chris Berman does the play-by-play on the Shaggy Dog’s moves.

“You don’t go into a highly scrutinized commercial enterprise like the Super Bowl without knowing that you have the goods,” says Oren Aviv, president of marketing at Walt Disney Studios.

Seeking Monday morning replays. Advertisers want more than 30 seconds of your time and have paid search engines for key words linking to replays of their Super Bowl ads online. Yahoo says the number of advertisers paying to advertise their Super Bowl ads is double last year.

That’s because results are easily measurable, says Ron Belanger, Yahoo senior director of strategy and development. “They know exactly what return they are getting and know what they can afford to pay.”