Last year, I did what basically everyone does and did a recap of the ads of the Big Trademarked Sporting Event. This year, a good number of advertisers are taking advantage of the Internet and releasing their ads early in order to create social buzz. In my opinion, this sort of defeats the purpose, but as long as they're doing it, let's take a look at some of the fare. (In a way, this sort of feeds into what they hope will happen, as I myself am helping to create buzz and technically offering free advertising. That's consumerism for you.)
A lot of ads go for memorable names (including a number I’ll show off here), and this one is no exception…though its familiar faces are a little more “animated” than most. MetLife goes for nostalgia and diversity while delivering a message of insurance for everyone, by bringing long-time mascot Snoopy and his friends together with a bunch of classic cartoon characters. The best gag is the multiple blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances by the always-elusive Waldo.
Interestingly, save for the famed beagle and his entourage themselves (owned by the Peanuts Worldwide division of Iconix), all the characters in this ad are owned by only two companies: Time Warner (Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera) and Classic Media. Shows how diverse those two companies’s portfolios are.
The Coke driver who prefers Pepsi- and the mishaps that ensue because of it- is a familiar theme Pepsi first used in a 1996 spot which was the winner of that year’s USA TODAY Ad Meter, as well as the winner of a 20th-anniversary Ad Meter best-of in 2008. With “Your Cheatin’ Heart” once again as his theme song, the hapless driver returns, now preferring the low-cal Pepsi Max to his own Coke Zero…and a retired talk show host ends up getting involved.
Marketers would kill for a spot during the big game, and in Priceline’s case it’s quite literal. The highly publicized final appearance of William Shatner’s Negotiator, the spokesman literally goes out with a bang as his message of savings lives on. Would we expect anything less from the usually-extravagant Shatner? (Sadly, the crisis leaves no time for his jingle, sung by one of my “pals” Laura Dickinson, she of the heroic platypus “Perry” sting and other female vocals on Phineas and Ferb. And yes, I can link anything to Phineas and Ferb. They’re my Kevin Bacon.)
Making fun of what’s popular is one tried-and-true ad tactic, and Audi uses it here taking on the whole vampire craze. Whatever these vampires are, however, they aren’t related to Mr. Cullen, given their reaction to the lights…which is more in line with your run-of-the-mill bloodsucker.
Alongside joining the other companies who are showing their ads early online to create social buzz, Coca-Cola is using one of their most famous game-day icons- the polar bears- to add an extra social-media buzz for the large number of folks who (like myself) will be online during the game. Two animated polar bears- one a fan of the Giants clad in a red scarf, the other in Patriots grey- will be watching the game live and reacting accordingly to the action both during the game and the commercials. (During the Pepsi ads, they’ll fall asleep). To tie into and promote the Polar Bowl website, Coke has two ads set up, one of which, which features a fan of whichever team is behind at that time showing off his own skills during a break in the action, has two versions ready to go depending on which team is losing at the time. Seeing as I’m rooting for the Giants, I’ve decided to show the version starring the Giants bear here.
Volkswagen’s teaser for this spot, featuring dogs barking John Williams’s Imperial March, implied that Star Wars would return as a theme this year alongside dogs. Indeed, VW’s spot this year, featuring the new Beetle, has both…though not how’d you would expect it to. Canine exercise is on display here…though last year’s pint-sized Sith Lord makes a surprise appearance of his own.
Given that the Peacock Network is running the game this year, perhaps it’s not surprising that one of their biggest stars is starring in one of the spots. In my personal favorite of the ads that have been revealed so far, the former Mr. Must See TV himself discovers that fame can’t get him everything, and tries to use what he does have to get his hands on a new Acura. Given his fame, talent, and especially money, nothing could stop him…except maybe another familiar NBC icon.
Another star-studded car spot whose teaser got a lot of buzz, Matthew Broderick proves that he’s still got a bit of childlike spirit in him, just like his famed early role of Ferris Bueller. Matthew “saves Ferris” by having a day off of his own. I know he’s disliked nowadays for his creationist beliefs, but it’s a shame they couldn’t have at least gotten Ben Stein to do a cameo. (You may recognize actor Brian Stephanek, who played the quirky janitor Arwin on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, as Matthew’s agent. Then again, you may not.)
Who knew “Mean” Joe Greene was still around? The Steeler probably best known for his iconic Coke ad than anything he ever did on the field pokes fun at his own famous ad here alongside Amy Sedaris.
Let’s end our preview with a tried-and-true game day winner: good old fashioned comedy. Taking a page from Doritos’s playbook which led to two of the past three USA Today Ad Bowl winners (last year’s was a tie with long-time champ Bud Light), Chevy called for submissions for their spot. This winning ad is very much in line with classic Bud Light and Doritos spots, just goofy comedy thanks to a case of a graduate who thinks he’s getting something more than he really is.