SBD/Issue 93/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Super Bowl Ads: Anheuser-Busch Chooses Humor Over Clydesdales

    Clydesdales Not Appearing In Anheuser-Busch's
    Super Bowl Ads For First Time In Years
    Anheuser-Busch's "iconic Budweiser Clydesdales have been sidelined" from A-B's "slate of nine ads" that will appear during CBS' telecast of Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, according to Todd Frankel of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The company "remains a big spender on Super Bowl ads, buying up five precious, pricey ad minutes" during the game, but the Clydesdales will not appear "for the first time in at least eight Super Bowls." Instead, A-B is "using humor ... to push leading brands Bud Light and Budweiser, complemented by shorter nods to Michelob Ultra and the new, low-calorie, Select 55." A-B's Super Bowl ads "range from scientists turning to Bud Light as they worry about an Earth-bound asteroid, to a small town working to rescue a beer truck, to a spoof of popular TV series 'Lost.'" Frankel notes A-B's five Bud Light ads, via Cannonball, St. Louis, all "take aim at being funny." In one spot, a "husband on his way to play softball interrupts his wife's book club when he sees Bud Light is being served," while in another friends are "amazed by a house built of blue Bud Light cans." The two Budweiser ads, scheduled to appear in the second and fourth quarters, "emphasize how the brand brings people together." A-B InBev VP/Marketing Keith Levy yesterday said that the decision not to use the Clydesdales was an "unintentional outcome of focus-group testing." Levy: "We did produce a Clydesdale spot. And we do continue to utilize Clydesdales in our marketing for Budweiser. But at the end of the day, I don't choose the spots. Brand managers don't choose the spots. The consumers do." Levy added that the emphasis on humor is a "reaction to consumers worrying about the continuing economic slump and glum news overseas" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/27).

    MORE DETAILS OF THE ADS: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott noted "don't look" for Bud Light's ads "to be centered on 'drinkability,' an attribute the beer brand has spent more than a year promoting." Bud Light's five spots instead are "scheduled to be devoted to unveiling a new theme for Bud Light, 'Here we go.'" However, Levy "played down the significance of the disappearance of the drinkability theme." Levy: "It's sort of a planned evolution." Elliott noted neither of the two Budweiser spots are "laugh-out loud funny, but one is more light-hearted than the other." Meanwhile, A-B's ad for Michelob Ultra comes via Palm & Havas, Chicago, and will feature cyclist Lance Armstrong (NYTIMES.com, 1/26).

    CHANGE OF DIRECTION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Suzanne Vranica writes A-B's new direction for Bud Light "comes as sales of the brand are sputtering." The brand had its "worst year in 2009, suffering its first annual decline in volume since its launch in 1982." A-B's Super Bowl push also is "likely to come under extra scrutiny because this will be the first round created without" former Exec VP/Global Industry Development & CCO Bob Lachky, a "20-year marketing veteran" who left the company last year (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/27). The AP's Emily Fredrix noted A-B "shifted away a bit from one of its main agencies, DDB, which last year did all but one" of the brewer's Super Bowl ads. The agency this year was only responsible for the two Budweiser ads. Meanwhile, Fredrix noted A-B each year "films more Super Bowl commercials than it can use and then airs the ones that do best in consumer testing." However, the company "still may change its lineup at the last minute before the game" (AP, 1/26).

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  • Super Bowl Ads: Brett Favre To Pitch Hyundai During Broadcast

    Hyundai Scheduled To Run Six Spots 
    During CBS' Super Bowl Coverage
    There are six automakers that will "vie for viewer attention and consideration" during CBS' broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV, but Hyundai "is shaping up as perhaps the brand to beat," according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. Hyundai Motor America VP/Marketing Joel Ewanick said that the company made a deal with CBS for its package of Super Bowl ads "back in June ... enabling the brand to score some attractive terms for its six scheduled spots." Ewanick noted that the two Hyundai commercials "to appear during the game will run in the first half, ... one in the first quarter and the other in the second quarter." The other four spots will air during the pregame show. Elliott reported Hyundai signed Vikings QB Brett Favre to "appear in one of the two Hyundai spots during the game." That spot will promote Hyundai's "10-year, 100,000-mile warranty with a scene showing [Favre] being interviewed after he wins a most valuable player award in the 2020 football season," mocking his "well-known penchant for changing his mind about retiring from football." Ewanick said that the Favre spot was "filmed last month." Elliott noted actor Jeff Bridges "narrates all six of the Hyundai spots scheduled to appear on Super Bowl Sunday" (NYTIMES.com, 1/26). MARKETING DAILY's Karl Greenberg notes Hyundai's second in-game ad is "set to classical music" and "shows the balletic maneuvers of assembly-line robots applying paint to a Sonata body." Ewanick said of the company's strategy with the ads, "It's a trap for advertisers to be something they're not just to accomplish 'funny.' We sell cars. We aren't a beer brand. We have to stay within who we are" (MARKETING DAILY, 1/27 issue). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy writes, "This is what they expect to sell cars now? Brett Favre retirement jokes and paint? Actually, Hyundai, if you throw in a free undercoating and guarantee another summer without Favre's waffling, I'll go buy a Sonata right now" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/27).

    PANTS ON THE GROUND: USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz writes under the header, "Super Bowl To Show More Ads With People In Their Underwear." Dockers' in-game ad will features "about 30 men marching in unison in their undies while singing the song 'I Wear No Pants.'" Meanwhile, one of two finalists for CareerBuilder.com's consumer-generated Super Bowl ad "takes place in an office where 'casual Friday' attire means a workforce that's decked out in nothing but underwear." Also, a Bud Light spot posted on the brand's Facebook fan page "features an office full of folks who are only too eager to strip down to their briefs -- or less -- so they can donate their duds to a clothing drive in exchange for free Bud Light." Horovitz writes the commercials are "less about being sexy and more about showing everyday -- very everyday in some cases -- people in their undies" (USA TODAY, 1/27).

    SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT: In Boston, Tenley Woodman reported former Patriots cheerleader Elizabeth Hanson is a "finalist in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl commercial competition." Hanson's team is "vying with five others to get the most votes for her original commercial at crashthesuperbowl.com" by Sunday. The winning ad "will air during Super Bowl XLIV and earn a cool" $1M (BOSTON HERALD, 1/26).

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  • Super Bowl Ads: CBS Defends Decision To Run Focus On The Family

     
    CBS yesterday defended its decision to accept a Super Bowl ad from Christian group Focus on the Family, acknowledging that it has "changed its policy and now accepts commercials that advocate political causes," according to Meg James of the L.A. TIMES. A CBS spokesperson said the spot starring former Univ. of Florida QB Tim Tebow, which is rumored to carry a pro-life theme, was subjected to the "full standards process that all ads go through." James notes CBS now "finds itself in a difficult position," as it has previously rejected ads from "left-leaning organizations." CBS' policy shift has "galvanized a coalition of organizations, which have been urging the network to reject the Tebow ad." CBS Senior VP/Communications Dana McClintock said, "We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms on the issue." The network added it will "continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV." James notes the "thicket that CBS finds itself in could become increasingly common for TV networks." The net's decision to accept the Focus on the Family ad "comes as networks and TV stations have struggled for revenue amid a weak advertising market." Women's Media Center President Jehmu Greene, whose organization is spearheading the campaign urging CBS to reject the ad, said, "They are more concerned about their bottom line than fair play" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27).

    A POLARIZING ISSUE: National Organization for Women Action VP Erin Matson yesterday said that "abortion is an incredibly complex issue that cannot be condensed into a 30-second commercial, and running the ad is not a smart thing to do for either viewpoint." However, Matson noted that her organization, which has joined Women's Media Center's campaign, has "no plants to buy a Super Bowl spot or specifically rebut" the Tebow ad. Focus on the Family VP/Media Relations Gary Schneeberger said that he is "surprised at the outrage over the content of the commercial considering the fact that the ad has not been seen." Schneeberger: "To comment on an ad that you haven't seen seems difficult to do" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/27). Schneeberger would not disclose details about the ad, which he called "refreshing and very inspiring." When asked if Focus on the Family would protest a pro-choice Super Bowl ad, he said, "It's hard to speculate. It would depend upon the details" (EW.com, 1/26).

    OPENING PANDORA'S BOX? USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the Focus on the Family ad "might pave the way for controversial spots to regularly pop up on marquee TV -- giving broadcasters new sideshows to generate buzz." CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus declined to comment on the network's ad policy, but said, "As far as generating interest and curiosity, (Super Bowl ads) are part of the game" (USA TODAY, 1/27). Ad Age columnist Bob Garfield said, "I'm stunned that any of the networks would risk one of the few, last great franchises of broadcast television for an ad that could polarize viewers." He added, "This is a multi-hundred-million-dollar franchise that networks have historically protected by avoiding controversy, especially in the ads. I'm surprised that anybody's going to take a risk by accepting an ad with an explicit religious message" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/27). In St. Petersburg, Eric Deggans wrote it "seems odd" that CBS would accept an ad that "might be construed as anti-choice from an organization known for controversial views opposing abortion rights and homosexuality." Is a Super Bowl commercial an "appropriate place to spark a discussion about abortion?" (TAMPABAY.com, 1/26).

    Tebow Receiving Mixed Response For Taking
    Part In Focus On The Family's Ad
    THE RIGHT PLATFORM? In Orlando, George Diaz writes under the header, "Super Bowl Is The Wrong Audience For Tim Tebow's Message." Good for Tebow for "standing up for what he believes is right," but we are "going down a road here that is filled with potholes, moral and otherwise." The Super Bowl "shouldn't be hijacked and turned into a morality play of 30-second increments" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/27). FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said, "There's a time and place to crusade and the Super Bowl, a 30-second advertisement on Super Bowl Sunday, is not the place to be talking about anti-abortion" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/26). ABC News' Dan Harris: "Many sports fans say that is a great shame, that what has been a day for Americans to come together over football could become yet another day where we are divided over politics and the culture wars" ("World News," ABC, 1/26). But in Ft. Lauderdale, Diana Mellion writes under the header, "What's Wrong With A Super Bowl Ad That Promotes A Positive Message?" Mellion: "I guess Super Sunday is the best time to promote sex, promiscuity, gambling, etc., but don't instill any values to the most impressionable viewers watching the game: teens and young adults" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/27).

    SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "Whether you agree or disagree with the message, in my mind I admire Tim Tebow for doing this. We always rip athletes for not taking social stands. We always rip athletes for hiding behind their sports" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/26). ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "If anyone thinks Tebow is going to compromise his beliefs for marketers, they're badly mistaken" (TWITTER.com, 1/25). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "I defend his right to be involved in a commercial to say whatever he wants to say. But it's a wildly passionate issue in an area he's venturing into, and this could open up Pandora's Box. ... I don't think anybody of (his) age can accurately assess the passion that's going to come back at them" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/26).

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? YAHOO SPORTS' Matt Hinton wrote, "I've been writing about Tebow for more than four years, and the odds of him associating with anything remotely controversial or politically incorrect enough to justify the reactions to the Super Bowl ad are about as good as him becoming the next clown killer." The ad is "guaranteed to be generic and inoffensive -- in other words, for those of us more interested in the spectacle and sideshow than the politics, a letdown" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/26).

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  • Infiniti To Activate Around College Hoops Games On ESPN, CBS

    Infiniti M Sedan Will Get Its First Advertising In
    Spot To Air During Championship-Game Tipoff
    Infiniti is "launching a multiplatform campaign in support of its new line of luxury sedans, activating a full court press that includes buys in ESPN's college basketball telecasts and throughout CBS' March Madness coverage," according to Anthony Crupi of MEDIAWEEK. As part of the campaign, via TBWA/Chiat/Day, the automaker is "sponsoring a new pre-game feature on ESPN." The "Infiniti College Basketball Tip-Off" will air immediately before eight games, "including seven Saturday prime-time games" and one Tuesday night game. Crupi noted each Tip-Off show will feature "interviews with head coaches ... with an eye toward giving fans a better sense of the role that inspiration plays in securing victory." A "supplemental 'Inspiring Coaches' spotlight series will be available on ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile, immediately prior to each Infiniti-sponsored game," which will feature Q&As with 15 college coaches hosted by ESPN's Andy Katz. Infiniti also will buy time during CBS' broadcast of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, "ensuring it will be in position to reach its target demo" of males ages 35-45 with a household income of $110,000-plus. Crupi noted Infiniti's creative will "shift to the 2011 Infiniti M sedan, a $48,000 four-door set to hit dealerships in the spring" on the night of the national championship game (MEDIAWEEK.com, 1/25). Infiniti said that the Infiniti M sedan will "get its first advertising in a spot to air during the championship-game tipoff" (MARKETING DAILY, 1/27 issue).

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  • Honda Agrees To Three-Year Title Sponsorship Of L.A. Marathon

     
    L.A. Marathon LLC and Honda yesterday announced a three-year title sponsorship deal designating the March 21 race as the Honda Los Angeles Marathon. This marks the first time in the marathon's 25-year history that it will have a title sponsor. Honda has been a presenting sponsor of the race since '95. The agreement includes charitable components, signage, advertising, digital media, and a presence at satellite events such as the pre-race Expo and finish-line celebration (L.A. Marathon/Honda). In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes while officials declined to reveal financial terms of the deal, L.A. Marathon President Russ Pillar said that Honda "negotiated a multifaceted deal 'for millions of dollars'" to sponsor the race and "boost the event's ambition to stamp itself 'as a destination race for international participants.'" Pillar said that winners of the race "will receive a new Honda vehicle, and the deal also features yet-to-be-announced charitable, community-service and marketing components." He said that this year's new course, "which will start at Dodger Stadium and end overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Santa Monica Pier, passing through Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica on the way, has drawn thousands paying the $125 entry fee." Pillar noted that the marathon "will cap the field at 25,000." Honda officials cited the marathon's "new ownership, led by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, the course change and the growing interest in an event 'that brings the entire community together' for its decision to increase its investment." American Honda Motor Co. Corporate Community Relations Manager Erik Wedin said that a "philanthropic element will be disclosed in coming weeks" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27).

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  • Wheels & Deals: Miccosukee Indian Sponsorship Could Disappear

    Miccosukee Could Pull NASCAR
    Sponsorships Following February 4 Vote
    In Charlotte, Jim Utter reported sponsorship from Miccosukee Indian Gaming in all three of NASCAR’s main series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks -- “could be terminated as a result of an early February vote by the Indian tribe.” The tribe elected Colley Billie as its new Chair on January 5, and Billie had “campaigned on promoting a new and ‘proactive’ economic development platform.” Sources indicated that the tribe plans a February 4 vote to “decide whether it will continue its sponsorship in NASCAR, which includes Cup and Nationwide teams to be fielded in 2010 by team owner James Finch and a Truck team owned and driven by Kyle Busch.” Sources said that the “chances the NASCAR sponsorships will continue are considered slim” (THATSRACIN.com, 1/25).

    DOLLARS & SENSE: In Orlando, Tania Ganguli writes while other Nationwide Series teams "struggled last season," JR Motorsports "made more money than expected." JR Motorsports will "use that profit to keep the No. 88 team running throughout 2010, regardless of sponsorship issues." The team "only has about one third of the season's races sponsored for Kelly Bires No. 5 Chevrolet at the moment, but will be able to keep that going, too." JR Motorsports co-Owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the team "didn't want to downsize the company any more like the year before." He added the addition of Danica Patrick for a select number of races "really justified having two programs and keeping our employee count. That was awesome to have that" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/27).

    LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: ESPN.com's Terry Blount profiled JR Motorsports co-Owner & GM Kelley Earnhardt, who also "runs the show for Junior's numerous other endeavors." She "handles the day-to-day decisions" of the team along with "making sure all of her brother's other businesses run properly." Kelley Earnhardt was "instrumental in bringing Danica Patrick to the program." When asked if "dealing with the hype around Patrick" is different than dealing with her brother, Earnhardt said, "Oh no. It's totally the same. We definitely can handle that. We have that part figured out" (ESPN.com, 1/26).

    CRUISE CONTROL: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Sponsor Services Manager Byron Goggin said all of JGR's sponsors "are valuable" because the team "can't go racing without them." Goggin said sponsorships are "important enough that we have to get those guys in here, get their photo shoots done, get the new talking points." Goggin: "All year, these companies have things they want to get across to their consumers, and the drivers need to learn what those things are and take ownership of those things themselves. ... Every sponsor has a reason they're on the race cars. The drivers convey that to the consumers." JGR sponsor Interstate Batteries Senior Art Dir Brenda Lyon said of working with JGR drivers, "All the drivers are very professional. They just come right in when we're doing the photo shoot and get to work" ("Countdown to Daytona," Speed, 1/24).

    Waltrip Talks To CEOs Of Companies He
    Sponsors To Discuss Business Plans
    SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: Michael Waltrip Racing Owner Michael Waltrip appeared on Fox Business yesterday, and Fox Business' Brian Sullivan told Waltrip, "Everybody knows you out there from the myriad of commercials. Actually, I'm happy to see you're still doing commercials, because a lot of talk with the economy that all the cars (in NASCAR) are going to be empty." Waltrip said, "NASCAR has survived these tough economic times as good as any sport could have hoped to. We at Michael Waltrip Racing have been able to sign all of our sponsors back.” He added, “I treat my sponsors as total partners. We're friends. In most cases, I know the presidents/CEOs of the companies and we can talk about how we're going to use that race car to sell more of their products" (Fox Business, 1/26).

    THE LAND DOWN UNDER: SCENEDAILY.com's Jeff Owens reported NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose has started his own marketing company in Australia named Pacific Pond "to help introduce Australian companies to NASCAR, and vice versa." Ambrose: "That is a huge growth for us, but on the flip side, there is even more opportunity for American sponsors and NASCAR in Australia." There are "plans to work on potential cross promotions between American and Australian sports as well" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/25).

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