Bud's Super Bowl ads build buzz
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.