Amy Poehler, space babies and a fake Anthony Sullivan: The six ads to look for in Sunday's Super Bowl
As advertisers line up to spend more money than ever before on Super Bowl ads – close to $4-million for each 30-second burst of onscreen time – one question arises:
How do you reach the biggest TV audience of the year, half of whom are already tuning in just for the commercials, and get them to focus on the ads even more?
Do you let the public choose the ending, as Coca Cola has done with their “chase” spot, urging fans to log onto CokeChase.com and decide if Las Vegas showgirls, hard-riding cowboys or Mad Max-style “badlanders” will win a race through the desert on Super Bowl night?
Do you ask fans to send in photos, as Pepsi has done for its spot just before R&B diva Beyonce’s half time show? (though many photos will appear in the ad, 50 lucky winners will participate in the halftime show.)
Do you have fans answer questions over Twitter and use their responses to build an ad, as late-night host Jimmy Fallon did with his 7.6 million followers for a campaign bankrolled by Ford’s Lincoln auto line dubbed “#Steerthescript?
Do you release the full spot -- or an even longer version -- well in advance to assure lots of appearances in social media and news stories, as Mercedes, Audi and Volkswagen did?
(The downside there: critics can pick apart unorthodox spots before game time, as Volkswagen discovered when its spot featuring a lighthearted white Minnesotan speaking with a Jamaican accent sparked concerns of racism and Arab groups objected to a depiction in Coke’s “Chase” commercial.)
The audience has grown every year for the Super Bowl telecast, with a record 111.3 million tuned in last year, presenting the world’s biggest stage for commercial marketers to push “engagement” across social media, websites and smartphones for spots airing in the most expensive commercial time on television.
According to the Associated Press, about half of the 30 marketers running Super Bowl ads have already released teaser trailers, partial clips or full version of their spots.
And after some time spent trolling YouTube and the wilds of social, here’s this critics picks for the ones to watch.
Best fan choice. Audi fans nailed their Super bowl ad choice this year, picking “Prom,” a commercial where a nerdy kid drives his dad’s luxury car to the big dance alone, kisses the pretty girl and gets a shiner for his trouble. Trust me. It’s still cute.
Best use of kids/babies. It’s a longstanding rule of Super Bowl ads that kids, animals, sex and celebrities rule (excepting perhaps the super-played out E*trade baby). So it’s no surprise Kia’s “Space Babies” ad, where a dad tells his young son that infants come from a distant planet, has produced the coolest visual so far; a spacesuit-wearing youngster striding along a space capsule catwalk like Neil Armstrong.
Best use of senior citizens since Cocoon. Loved Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” video, featuring a gang of seniors sneaking out of their rest homes to tear up the town like younger, hard-partying fast food fans (though watching a sixtysomething getting “Goldblatt” tattooed across his back pushed the bounds of taste bit for me). Extra points for using a Spanish-language version of Fun.’s We are Young.
Best Anthony Sullivan spoof. Tide pulls off a cheeky informercial parody for “stain saver” stickers you can place on shirts, using a pitchman whose British tones sound suspiciously like Tampa TV seller Sullivan.
Best use of animals. The Doritos-eating goat who screams in horror after realizing his master has run out of the crunchy chip. Followed closely by a little dog who first fetches his master a bag of Doritos, and then brings him an angry bear (you gotta see it, to get it.)
Best ad we haven’t seen yet. For me, this is a tossup between two Saturday Night Live alums expected to appear during the Big Game. Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler will stand up for Best Buy in a 30-second spot, while 30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan appears for its “liquid water enhancer” Mio.
If either spot is half as funny as Poehler’s turn co-hosting Golden Globes or Morgan’s surprise shtick at the Emmys, we’re in for a treat.