SBD/February 4, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Celebrities Omnipresent In Super Bowl Ads, But Do They Help Brands Sell?



Best Buy's Super Bowl ad featuring Bieber, Ozzy one of many starring celebs
Several Super Bowl advertisers are featuring celebrities in their ads during Sunday's broadcast, including Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian, but the "risk for Super Bowl advertisers is that their message gets lost in the star's glare," according to Emily Steel of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Snickers, which "racked up big yardage last year" with an ad featuring Betty White, is "coming back this year" with comedians Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr in a new spot called "Logging." Barr was a "huge star in her now-distant day, and Mr. Lewis has been a fixture" on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." However, Steel wonders, "Will they have the same cultural cachet as the former Golden Girl?" Other ads featuring celebrities include Bieber joining Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne in Best Buy's ad, a Skechers spot featuring Kardashian, Teleflora's ad in which singer Faith Hill "promotes a Valentine's Day assortment" and ads for Go Daddy featuring driver Danica Patrick and trainer Jillian Michaels (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/4). Author Sally Hogshead said by using celebrities, companies are "tapping into what people are talking about." She said of the Skechers ad, "There's going to be a huge push of people going online and talking about the commercial and Kim, and maybe not so much about the shoes, but they will be buying” ("Today," NBC, 2/4).

CELEBS DO GENERATE BUZZ: MEDIA LIFE MAGAZINE's Diego Vasquez noted celebrity ads are "receiving most of the pregame buzz, and right up there" is Best Buy's ad. Lipton's ad with a "Claymation version of Eminem is also getting lots of attention." Pavone Senior Public Relations Strategist Dave Shoffner, whose company runs the Super Bowl ad site Spotbowl, said both the Best Buy and Snickers ads are "getting attention." When asked if celebrities help "build buzz for a brand," Shoffner said, "Anytime you can get a recognizable name in a spot it gives people something to talk about, and something they're familiar with. It's definitely something that works for brands." Shoffner said of Best Buy's ad, "We know Justin Bieber has a large pre-teen and teen girl following, and we're guessing many of them don't shop at Best Buy. But their parents do, and maybe that's where Ozzy comes in" (, 2/3).

: AD AGE's Natalie Zmuda noted group-buying site Living Social is "ready to raise its profile, with a pre-game Super Bowl spot and at least one Oscars spot." The pregame spot, which is via Martin Agency and will "run in the last pod prior to the game, features a burly, masculine type transforming as a result of Living Social's deals." The company's advertising strategy is "meant to further boost Living Social's visibility," and it "comes on the heels of news that rival Groupon snagged a slot in the Super Bowl, after being relegated to pre-game and post-game slots." Living Social VP/Marketing & Communications Camille Watson said that the company is "happy with its pre-game placement and that the spot signals the beginning of a larger advertising push" (, 2/3). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Lewis Lazare notes Groupon is "keeping details about its new Super Bowl work under wraps," but ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami, "selected Christopher Guest to direct the TV commercials" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/4). 

MORE COMMERCIAL DETAILS: ADWEEK's Eleftheria Parpis cited sources as saying that BMW Mini "will be among the brands that BMW of North America will be advertising" during the game. The carmaker is expected to air two ads via Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, N.Y., including one "for the X3 crossover." There will be a "separate commercial for the new four-door Mini Countryman," which comes via Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, California (, 2/3)....The NFL Thursday introduced 60- and 30-second spots that it will run during the Super Bowl. The 60-second spot, titled "American Family," will air during the third quarter, celebrating the Super Bowl's standing in the entertainment world. It features over 40 actors who appeared on some of the most popular TV shows of the last several decades, including "Happy Days," "Cheers," "Seinfeld," "The Simpsons," "The Office" and "The Sopranos." Meanwhile, the 30-second spot, titled "Gadget," will air at halftime featuring a young NFL fan accessing NFL content on NFL-owned media platforms across the year (THE DAILY).

HAVEN'T I SEEN YOU BEFORE? Hogshead noted several advertisers are bringing back characters from previous Super Bowl ads, such as the E*Trade baby and the worker. Hogshead: “In the cluttered environment of the Super Bowl, if you think about it … when a brand brings back a familiar character or a storyline, immediately people lock in on it and they know exactly what the brand is.” However, she noted there is a “lot of brilliant storytelling” in some of the ads. Hogshead: “We’re seeing the return of the big, bold, creative idea and I love it” (“Today,” NBC, 2/4). But New Media Strategies CEO Pete Snyder said Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons “has been very vocal” about how he “aims to be the lowest of the low every year.” Snyder: “Just like Christmas brings us elves and presents and things like that, Go Daddy every year at the Super Bowl brings bikinis and thongs” (“The Early Show,” CBS, 2/4).

MAKING A LIST: In Toronto, Jenni Dunning ranks the Top 10 commercials that will appear during the broadcast. Volkswagen's ad featuring a child dressed as Darth Vader ranks No. 1, as while there are "no spoken words in the entire commercial," the "adorable factor and doomsday music easily make it one of the best." Audi's spot in which musician Kenny G makes "fun of his easy-listening tunes" ranked No. 2 (TORONTO STAR, 2/4). Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Tom Webb notes the Best Buy ad is "scoring big in the world of social media." Media monitoring company Alterian is "tracking social-media mentions of 32 Super Bowl advertisers," and the Best Buy spot is "drawing the third-most attention behind Doritos and Pepsi" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/4).
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