E-Trade baby, you're a star; AT&T calls Scorsese

Baby, you’re a star

He spit up in front of 97.4 million people and “underestimated the creepiness” of a clown he hired, but the 9-month-old in E-Trade’s (ETFC) two Super Bowl ads is a star. Both ads aired late in the game, but ranked 13th and 14th out of 53 game ads with consumers rating the ads in real time for USA TODAY’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter. Since then, they’ve been two of the most-watched game ads online and finished high in measures of online buzz.

How they made the ads: The crew at agency Grey New York filmed the baby (his name is not being disclosed) sitting in a highchair before a green screen making expressions, mostly in response to his mother. She sat in an adjacent room for the filming and was seen by the baby on a monitor. Added later digitally: the mouth movements of a 5-year-old actor, the voice of a 30-year-old and the keyboard, room items and clown.


The director’s cut

Oscar-winning film director Martin Scorsese calls for quiet on the set in a new “silence your cellphone” theater ad from AT&T(T). The plot: A woman chats with her husband, then hands the phone to her young son so he can say goodnight to his dad. Scorsese rushes in and says the plot of this “ordinary” phone call isn’t working for him. “There’s no edge to it,” he says.

He then directs the woman to envision she is “trapped in a loveless marriage.” He tells the boy to visualize his father, on a business trip, as an ex-convict who betrayed him and should be killed. The tag line: “We won’t interrupt your phone calls. Please don’t interrupt our movies.”


Ah, the thirst quencher with a New York Giants kick. Gatorade (PEP) has brewed-up a limited-edition bottle of Gatorade with a silver label that celebrates the Giants’ victory over the New England Patriots. It says: NY Super Bowl XLII Champs. Bottles can be ordered for $2.25 each or by the case of 24 for $24.99 (plus shipping). But better order quick, Big Blue fans. There are only 2,520 bottles in stock, says Matt Knott, vice president of marketing. “First come, first serve.”

Yes, they also had a set ready for a Patriots perfect season. They’ve been destroyed, so don’t bother scouring eBay (EBAY).

What did go up on eBay: Five of the Super Bowl bottles autographed by MVP Eli Manning. Gatorade auctioned them to raise funds for the United Way and to support kids activities.

Perfect timing

Under Armour (UA) paid big bucks to advertise its new sports shoe during the Super Bowl, but rivals Reebok and Nike(NKE) were hot on its heels after the game with ads congratulating the Giants in ESPN’s 11 p.m. SportsCenter.

The Reebok ad, which also aired on the NFL Network, featured players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins, still the only team with an undefeated season. The Dolphins players are enjoying a “perfect” day, barbecuing in “Perfectville,” when a delivery man drops off a package. Inside is a football and a card reading: “A gift from the New York Giants. Enjoy it for one more year.” See the ad here.

Nike’s simple ad — black background with white text— also ran for a few days afterward. Phrases such as “perfect interceptions” and “perfect inconsistency” make a nod to the Giant’s rocky start. Then they turn upbeat, ending with: “Perfect when it counts.”

Both advertisers had alternate plans for a different outcome: Reebok’s ad would have ended with a moving van bringing new neighbors to Perfectville: the New England Patriots. Nike would have subbed an ad citing everything perfect about the Pats.

Salesgenie.com rethinks pandas

Vinod Gupta — the InfoUSA(IUSA) CEO who owns Salesgenie.com and writes and produces its ads himself — is going to give his ads a trial run before they open on the Super Bowl stage next year.

He doesn’t want to have to kill one after the game as he did last week after complaints from people offended by his animated pandas with Chinese accents.

Gupta says he’ll create a selection of ads next year and test them with consumer focus groups.

This year, he says, he only ran the ad by some friends. “None said it was offensive,” he says.

He also asserts his ad was no more offensive than an Anheuser-Busch(BUD) ad in which comedian Carlos Mencia teaches pick-up lines to immigrants with accents.

“If it’s produced by a big agency, nobody trashes it,” says Gupta, who is Indian, “but if it’s done by an Indian in Nebraska, you’re gonna hear about it.”

A-B says it test edits ads carefully — in the way Gupta plans to do next year.”Before airing commercials on the most-watched program of the year, we show them to focus groups of adults from a broad range of ethnicities and nationalities,” says Dave Peacock, vice president, marketing. “Across the board, this spot was very well-liked, which was reflected in the high score it received on the USA TODAY Ad Meter.”

The A-B ad ranked No. 11 in the annual Super Bowl Ad Meter real-time consumer ratings. The Salesgenie commercial was No. 44 out of 53 in-game ads.

Super Bowl Idol

One of the musicians who scored big online sales gains from playing in the Super Bowl was Doritos online song contest winner Kina Grannis. Her original tune Message From Your Heart floated into the Top 30 on iTunes. Doritos produced a music video of Grannis’ performance of the song and aired it in the first quarter of the game, giving her an audience of nearly 100 million people.

Also scoring was Haddaway, with Top 100 iTunes sales after Super Bowl exposure. His 1993 club hit What is Love provided the insistent beat for the bobbing heads in the Diet Pepsi Max ad.

The biggest sales winner: Tom Petty, who did some of his familiar hits in the Bridgestone-sponsored halftime show. His greatest hits album has been the No. 3 album download on iTunes since the Super Bowl, and five of his single tracks have been in the Top 100.

By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz


Q: Could you please settle a longtime debate? In the early ’80s there was a commercial with the pitch:”Best eatin’ in town, up ‘n’ down ‘n’ all around.” I think its spokesman was a Western movies actor. The argument is whether it was for Hardee’s or Arby’s.

A:  This took some work to track down, but the answer is Hardee’s — thanks to Lee Staak, a former president of the Independent Hardee’s Franchisee Association and a longtime Hardee’s franchisee in Iowa, who kindly helped out with the answer while vacationing in Florida.

Staak says the campaign, by agency Benton & Bowles, ran in the mid- to late 1970s, and its eight-year run marked the longest-running ad campaign Hardee’s has done.

Says Staak: “The star of the campaign was RoadRunner, a young stock car driver played by soap opera actor Phil McHale. RoadRunner’s sidekick was Ernie, his mechanic. They traveled the racing circuit, stopping at Hardee’s in every town to try their favorite roast beef sandwiches (or whatever new product Hardee’s wanted to advertise). They also had a hometown Hardee’s where they were regulars and the female manager swooned over Runner. McHale was always on the road doing personal appearances at Hardee’s and drawing huge crowds. Our own personal company celebrity.”

Thanks, Lee! Not an answer you could get from Google or Wikipedia — or Hardee’s headquarters. CKE(CKR), parent of Carl’s Jr., bought Hardee’s in 1997 and knew nothing about the 1970s campaign.

Q: I was wondering if you know the name of the song that is sung on the Jeep commercial with all the forest animals in it? It starts “Rock me gently, rock me slowly …”

A:  The song is Rock Me Gently by Andy Kim, a Canadian-Lebanese singer who had a number of Top 40 hits through the 1970s.

In the Jeep Liberty ad, a young man drives along a wooded road with the windows open and music cranking. Soon, a menagerie of animals ends up in the car with the driver, singing along to the upbeat, infectious song.