SBD/Issue 102/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Super Bowl Ads: Focus On The Family Sees Online Traffic Increase

Watch The Focus On The Family Spot
Focus on the Family "achieved its goal" with its Super Bowl XLIV ad featuring former Univ. of Florida QB Tim Tebow and his mother, as the group has received a "torrent of new attention for its website and its brand in social media land," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Focus on the Family "beefed up its servers in anticipation" of the increased attention from the ad, and after the spot aired during the first quarter of Sunday's game, the Web site's traffic "ballooned to 40 times its normal volume -- with 50,000 unique visitors and 500,000 hits." The spot only ranked 54th out of the games 65 ads in USA Today's Ad Meter, but the "enormous attention that the ad received before, during and after the game could become a case study for marketers." Focus on the Family President & CEO Jim Daly: "We won long before the ad ever ran." Horovitz reports between December 1 and yesterday at 3:00am ET, Focus on the Family "generated more Super Bowl advertising-related social-media conversations than any other advertiser or brand" (USA TODAY, 2/9). In Denver, Electa Draper notes there was speculation that the Focus on the Family ad would carry a pro-life message, but once it aired, some reviews deemed it "anticlimactic." Focus on the Family VP/Media Relations Gary Schneeberger said that the group "never intended to make a hard-core political ad -- CBS parameters would not have permitted it." Schneeberger: "We knew what was in the ad. We never said it was anti-anything" (DENVER POST, 2/9).

TONE DOWN THE VIOLENCE: In L.A., T.J. Simers wonders why there is "no outrage today with Sunday's violence-filled commercial messages, in some cases the message loud and clear that people just cannot go on unless they have their beer?" The ads were "funny in some cases," such as a "guy crashing a women's book club" in a Bud Light spot. However, Simers writes of another Bud Light ad, "When some guy runs into a restaurant screaming about the bridge being out, no one reacts. But when he mentions the beer truck is on the other side, it's as if he's told everyone a child is hanging from a cliff, or they have discovered gold." Simers: "The beer commercials left a sour taste here, but I'm guessing they spent $2.7[M] for every 30 seconds knowing they were going to hit the mark" (L.A. TIMES, 2/9). ESPN's Jim Rome said, "Sex sells and so does violence and the two together are unbeatable, and that clearly was the message that you received if you checked out this year's Super Bowl commercials. You want football fans to buy your product, then shock them. ... The commercials should not be more violent than the game itself" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 2/8). Meanwhile,'s Mary Elizabeth Williams said, "The ads this year were beyond sexist. ... The thing that was disturbing this year was the level of hostility toward women, the anger in the ads" ("Nightly News," NBC, 2/8).

Watch The Spot

NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND: In Miami, Glenn Garvin reports a TiVo study of the most-replayed Super Bowl commercials showed that "sex and the Super Bowl don't mix." None of the "cheesecake-flavored ads (notably two GoDaddy commercials featuring busty exhibitionists and a Motorola ad with Megan Fox shooting photos of herself in the bathtub) made the top 10 list." The "most nudity in any of the top-10 ads came in a commercial that showed overstuffed employees wandering the office in their underwear on Casual Friday" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/9). TiVo did not include the 15-second promo for CBS' "Late Show" in its commercials category, "but if it had, it would have been No. 2" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/9).

AGE AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT A NUMBER: Snickers' ad featuring actors Betty White and Abe Vigoda won USA Today's Ad Meter poll, and the positive reviews of the spot continued to roll in yesterday. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Michael Slezak wrote, "I had to rewind my DVR four times before I could finally stop howling over the sight of the erstwhile 'Golden Girls' star getting sacked hard -- and landing with a thud in a puddle of mud" (, 2/8). TV host Billy Bush said, "Who could not love the Betty White Super Bowl commercial? Boom, down goes Betty! That's a no-brainer" ("Access Hollywood," 2/8). ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck added, "Anytime you have Betty White getting tackled, that's pretty good" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 2/8).'s Jay Mariotti called the ad "terrific stuff" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/8). McKee Wallwork Cleveland Creative Dir & Partner Bart Cleveland: “I’m sure there will be complaints, but the fact is Snickers told a funny story that anyone could understand while expertly weaving their product’s benefit into the story. It was my favorite spot in a dismal overall showing” (, 2/9). However, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I did not like the Abe Vigoda and Betty White ad. I thought it was too weird for me" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/8).

KEEPING THINGS TOO OLD SCHOOL? CNBC's Melissa Lee said Google's Super Bowl ad "didn't highlight any of Google's latest/greatest new technologies," as it was "an old-fashioned search at an old-fashioned PC." Lee: "It wasn't even a mobile search. That was just staggering to me that they could spend that money and highlight their old technology." But former Neuberger Berman Managing Dir Gary Kaminsky noted, "This is Google trying to maintain the dominance in their core business, because they're concerned" ("Fast Money," CNBC, 2/8). Meanwhile,'s J.A. Adande said Google's ad was "wonderfully understated, telling a love story through a series of searches" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/8). Baker Street Partners VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman noted the spot "cut through the clutter" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/8).

Watch truTV's "Punxsutawny Polamalu" Spot

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: In Atlanta, Jeremiah McWilliams reports truTV's ad ranked 21st in USA Today's Ad Meter, and Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin said, "We did really well." Koonin: "The clarity of the message -- six more weeks of football -- played really well." Koonin said that truTV "wanted to get the Groundhog Day-themed ad out onto the Web before the game" to promote its new show, "NFL Full Contact." Koonin: "We had the perfect storm of opportunity. People get bummed when there's no more football" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/9). truTV Exec VP & GM Marc Juris in a statement said the net is "still a young brand," and "one of the major goals in purchasing a spot during the game was to raise the network's profile" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/9).

BIG GAME LOSING LUSTER? AD AGE's Brian Steinberg writes under the header, "Why The Super Bowl Doesn't Loom So Large Any More." Super Bowl ads are "for marketers who need to generate awareness or require a sense of legitimacy, less and less for those who already have such things." Steinberg: "Did you ever think you'd watch a Super Bowl with just a handful of well-established brands? With FedEx, General Motors and Pepsi beverages out of the contest ... we're starting to see an event that is increasingly tapped by smaller marketers who have dreams of growing big." Companies like HomeAway and Skechers are "upstart brands," and the Super Bowl "gets their names out to the masses, prompting consumers to move to the web and social media to find out more and talk about what they saw" (AD AGE, 2/8 issue). Consumer visits to HomeAway's Web site increased 500% yesterday following the company's first Super Bowl ad Sunday (HomeAway).

Watch Doritos' "House Rules" Spot

AGENCIES LOSING TOUCH? In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reports many of the ads "consistently deemed most effective, memorable and talked-about" during the Super Bowl were "created or suggested by consumers -- or produced internally by the sponsors -- rather than the work of agency professionals." Most notable were a "couple of commercials for Doritos," along with a spot for the "search-engine services provided by Google." The Doritos ads were "created by consumers and the Google spot was created internally." Northwestern Univ.'s Kellogg School of Management marketing professor Tim Calkins: "The Super Bowl this year says consumer-generated content really can work" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).

RANKING THE BEST: In Minneapolis, David Phelps reports Minneapolis-based ad agency Colle + McVoy "tracked viewers Twitter comments via a proprietary Web tool called Squawq," which indicated that "more tweets accompanied [Doritos] ads than any other product, including Budweiser." Twitter users "enjoyed the Doritos ad called 'House Rules' in which a sixish-year-old admonishes his mom's new boyfriend." Doritos earned 21% of the Twitter "chatter on game day," ranking No. 1 among Super Bowl advertisers. The survey "identified more than 185,000 tweets about Super Bowl ads on game day, tracking 36 advertisers with a total of 56 spots among them" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/9). MARKETING DAILY's Karl Greenberg reports Allen & Gerritsen's Meaningful Messages Super Bowl Ad Survey, which ranks ads "by performance, rather than popularity," identified Snickers' ad as the top spot. The survey asks the question, "Will the ad make you buy the product or consider buying it?" Denny's ranked No. 2 in the survey behind Snickers, followed by Anheuser-Busch's Clydesdale ad, HomeAway and Hyundai's spot featuring Vikings QB Brett Favre receiving a future MVP award (MARKETING DAILY, 2/9 issue).

BREAKING IT DOWN: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reports "more time was devoted to advertising this year than ever." A Kantar Media analysis indicated that total ad time for Super Bowl XLIV was 47 minutes, 50 seconds, including 39:25 devoted to brand advertising and 8:25 dedicated to CBS promos. The total is "nearly three minutes more" than last year's 45:05 of total ad time (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/9). The past five Super Bowls "have each set records for most ad time ever, dating back to the 44 minutes and 15 seconds” for Super Bowl XL in ’06 (, 2/9). Meanwhile, L.A.-based consultancy GreenLight's Ad Gauge indicated that 41% of this year's Super Bowl ads featured celebrities or pop music, a similar amount to the past two years. Thirty-four percent of the spots boasted celebrity endorsements, while 20% featured pop music (GreenLight).

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