Pepsi has "downsized its Super Bowl commercial buy this year, securing only a single 30-second ad for its flagship cola," marking a "significant change from recent years, when line extensions such as Pepsi Next and PepsiMax shared the spotlight in separate commercials," according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. The soft drink company is hoping to "get a bigger bang for its slimmer ad load by pouring all of its resources behind its sponsorship of the halftime show." PepsiCo North America Beverages VP/Marketing Seth Kaufman said the company is "fundamentally playing a different game" for the Super Bowl. He added the marketing is "no longer about 30 seconds" but "about a month long, really, really meaningful program." Schultz notes the effort, which has "included digital videos and halftime-themed ads aired during the NFL playoffs, will culminate Sunday with a two-and-half minute ad running during Sunday's Grammy Awards." The spot asks the question, "What if the Grammy's had a halftime show?" Meanwhile, Kaufman said that Pepsi's "sole in-game Super Bowl ad will introduce the halftime show, weaving in scenes from the New York City-area." The ad is from Mekanism, which "handled last year's halftime intro spot for the brand." Schultz notes Pepsi began "teasing its halftime show on New Year's Eve with digital out-of-home ads in New York that asked consumers to 'Get Hyped for Halftime.'" During the NFL playoffs, Pepsi "ran an ad reimagining what the first football halftime was like." Kaufman said that Pepsi "still believes in the power of in-game Super Bowl ads and the eyeballs and engagement they draw." But he added the brand wanted to spread its messaging across "these other audiences" (ADAGE.com, 1/24).
Marketing and Sponsorship
STAR SEARCH: USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz reports some Super Bowl advertisers "believe it's no longer possible to stand out with just one celebrity," so several now are "widening the field to two, three, four -- or more." Dannon and Jaguar "each have three celebrities in their ads," while Anheuser-Busch has four, including actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. U2 will perform its new song, "Invisible," in a "fundraising ad sponsored by Bank of America for (RED) to fight AIDS," while Toyota features actor Terry Crews "teamed with a car full of Muppets." Hyundai on Friday is "expected to name two celebrities who will star in one of its Super Bowl ads." Marketing firm DLB Founder & CEO Darcy Bouzeos said, "Using multiple celebrities helps a brand appeal to a more diverse audience." Bouzeos added that the strategy "helps create a 'wow' factor." Bouzeos: "The audience may be impressed by the sheer star power connected to the brand." Horovitz notes the "exception is that if a celebrity is very big, the star doesn't typically share screen time" (USA TODAY, 1/24).
CELEBRITIES IN SUPER BOWL ADS
|Anheuser-Busch||Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle, Reggie Watts|
|Bank of America||Bono, U2|
|Dannon (Oikos)||John Stamos, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier of "Full House"|
|Jaguar||Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong|
|Kia||Laurence Fishburne ("The Matrix" character)|
|Toyota||Terry Crews, The Muppets|
|Wonderful Pistachios||Stephen Colbert|
AD BONANZA: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes in a 50-day period from Jan. 12 through March 2, there is "a veritable orgy of advertising." In addition to the Super Bowl and two NFL conference championship games, marketers are spending an estimated $1.5B to buy commercial time on the Golden Globes, the Grammys, the Sochi Games and the Academy Awards. Several major brands are "sponsoring more than one of those shows." Chevrolet "plans to run commercials during the Grammys, to be followed by two spots in the first quarter of the Super Bowl and multiple spots during the Winter Games and the Oscars." Marketers "covet big events like sports and award shows" as they "believe that viewers pay attention to the commercials because they have been conditioned to expect new, special ads worth watching during big-event television like the Super Bowl" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/24).
NFL cloud solutions partner SAP next week will open a NFL.com Stats Zone on Times Square as part of the league's Super Bowl Boulevard sponsor zone. The area, developed with the aid of SAP's agency of record GMR Marketing, will include fan voting for the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year, trivia quizzes, fan avatar creators and social media buzz monitoring. A large LED screen on the outside of the Stats Zone will show real-time looks into fan sentiment for Super Bowl XLVIII, as tracked by SAP and GMR across the Internet. "Sports is a big way for us to tell our story and humanize our brand, so being part of the Boulevard was a natural for us," said SAP Group Dir of Global Sponsorships Dan Fleetwood. The Stats Zone will open on Wednesday and stay open through next Saturday. SAP also sponsors the NBA, among other properties, and is looking to develop a similar concept for next month's NBA All-Star Game.
The Ralph Lauren-designed Opening Ceremony outfits Team USA will wear in Sochi have prompted "waves of disapproval from social-media critics for its patchwork woolen cardigan of stars and stripes," according to Marina Lopes of REUTERS. Social media deemed the uniforms "tacky and old-fashioned" (REUTERS, 1/23). In K.C., Melissa Schupmann writes the uniforms are "a little loud to say the least." Reaction on social media "was strong, with descriptions ranging from 'hideously ugly' to 'looks like Ralph Lauren threw up America' on the outfits." There are "supporters, too, but the consensus seems to be that the outfits would fit in well at a holiday ugly sweater party" (K.C. STAR, 1/24). In Newark, Kevin Manahan wrote under the header, "Team USA's Opening Ceremony Outfits Are ... Well, Ugly." Manahan: "Our first impressions ... Americans will win the Sochi ugly Sweater gold medal" (NJ.com, 1/23). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said when Team USA marches into the Opening Ceremony, "everybody else in the world will think the same thing: 'Look, they are all wearing the ugly sweaters their aunts sent them for Christmas'" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 1/23). FS1's Katie Nolan: "I don’t like it. I think it looks like my grandmother made this” ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 1/23). ABC's Cynthia McFadden noted some critics are saying the uniforms "look like ugly Christmas sweaters." McFadden also referenced the Norwegian curling team's loud outfits and said, "Let's hope the Games are as exciting as the outfits" ("Nightline," ABC, 1/24).
IF YOU WANT TO DESTROY MY SWEATER....: The N.Y. TIMES asked several experts to give their impressions of the outfits, and N.Y. Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn said, "The peacoat is terrific; the cardigan invites comparisons to hideous Christmas sweaters." She added the peacoat "is a spruced-up classic that is easy to like, even covet." But the sweater "oddly combines several tastes -- hipster styling, excessive sports graphics and homey patchwork, like what you might see in a traditional crazy quilt." Globe & Mail TV columnist John Doyle said the cardigans are "eye-poppingly awful." He added, "It appears the patches were attached to oversize cardigans by people unlucky to be both colorblind and uncoordinated." Four-Pins.com Editor-In-Chief Lawrence Schlossman: "These are like wearing Times Square on your body. ... My grandma could probably knit something cooler." Esquire Senior Associate Fashion Market Editor Nic Screws: "The key to accepting and embracing the look is to think of it more in terms of a uniform, and for what occasion, rather than as a pure style statement" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/24).
PUTTING ON THEIR BEST FACE: In S.F., Ellen Lee notes The North Face is outfitting the U.S. freeskiing team, and whether the team "returns with gold or not, it's a big win for North Face." Sochi marks the "first time the company has participated in the Olympic Games, one of its biggest sponsorships yet." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that though the brand's appearance at the Games "won't likely boost sales directly, it will draw attention to its image" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/24).
The Norwegian curling team's Loudmouth-designed uniforms continue to draw myriad reactions, with Yahoo Sports' Melanie Collins calling them a "disaster of red, white and blue." However, she noted they will "certainly garner a lot of attention." Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Jim Kozimor:, "Curling always ends up being a darling event at the Olympic Games. ... they'll get some eyeballs for that" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 1/22). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said the curlers "look like they're a barbershop quartet about to break into 'Sweet Adeline' but with a little Donny Osmond flair" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 1/22). CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce noted the uniforms are "so ridiculous and hideous" that they "look like they were inspired by Zubaz pants of the early '90s" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 1/22). The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said the uniform has a "Bay City Roller look to it," and it will make people "somewhat interested in the Winter Olympics" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/22).
THEY'RE GRRRRREAT!: Kellogg's Frosted Flakes will celebrate the father-daughter relationship by showcasing U.S. Olympic ski jump hopeful Sarah Hendrickson and her father, Bill, and by encouraging dads everywhere to share their passion for sports with their girls. Bill Hendrickson is a former ski jumper. Frosted Flakes will feature the Hendricksons in a TV ad that will air during the U.S. Olympic Trials and Sochi Games. In the spot, the two share their thoughts on their shared passion for ski jumping and compare their personal records (Kellogg's).
LADIES FIRST: Baltimore-based manufacturer STX signed U.S. women's ice hockey player Hilary Knight to a five-year agreement. She will begin using STX products at the Sochi Games. In addition, Knight will be heavily involved in the testing and development of STX ice hockey equipment (STX). Knight said of STX, "I heard they were coming into the hockey world and knowing them from the field hockey and lacrosse side I thought it would be a great idea to have my agency reach out to them" (Baltimore SUN, 1/24).
JOURNEY TO THE TOP: Canada-based Sport Chek has rolled out an integrated marketing campaign, #whatittakes, to celebrate the country's high performance athletes and their journeys to the podium. The #whatittakes campaign, developed by Sid Lee, Toronto, includes a 60-second TV spot featuring snowboarder Mark McMorris and Penguins C Sidney Crosby (Sport Chek).
The agents for tennis player Eugenie Bouchard “are focused on Canada first” for marketing deals and, “in the international big picture, on companies that may have global reach, but have solid roots in Bouchard’s homeland,” according to Stephanie Myles of the Montreal GAZETTE. Lagardère Unlimited Dir of Talent Marketing/Tennis Drew Lemesurier, who serves as one of Bouchard’s agents alongside Lagardère VP/Tennis Sam Duvall, said, “We definitely want to strike while the iron is hot, but she’s 19 years old. This is a girl that’s going to -- knock on wood -- be playing for the next 10 years and be winning Grand Slams. So we’re not just looking for the first opportunity that comes our way.” Lemesurier: “Our strategy is to look for long-term opportunities with brands for which she’ll be at the forefront of their marketing, who will be a true partner.” Duvall added, “The best thing is that Genie wants to do the media stuff. She understands that it’s part of her job, not just playing tennis -- more than any player we’ve ever worked with.” Myles notes Bouchard’s current roster of sponsors includes Nike, Babolat and a “new deal with Pinty’s, a poultry company whose commercials have been on constant rotation during the Australian Open’s coverage on TSN.” Bouchard also “wears the Sharapova line of clothing.” Myles: “But can she thrive being Nike’s second or third priority on the women’s side? Or would she be better off being the marquee player for another brand?” (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/24).
BRIGHT FUTURE: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Brady & Gordon in a front-page piece write Bouchard’s run to the Aussie Open semis “captured big prize money, record TV ratings and tennis hearts around the world and, from a marketing perspective, the ball is now" in her court. Bouchard's success "ignited excitement on social media and drew new viewers to the sport." TSN said that this year's event "was the most-watched Australian Open in the history of Canadian television." Duvall said that "she could be more marketable” than Sharapova. The homepage of the Nike Tennis’ website on Thursday had Bouchard’s "likeness right there with" Sharapova. Since the Australian Open began, Bouchard's official Facebook page "has earned an additional 80,000 Likes," and she "now has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter." brandRapport Sports Marketing Dir Nigel Currie said, "Marketers have male athletic role models coming out of their ears, but they don’t have nearly as many female sports stars who could be recognized in all corners of the world and have all the attributes they want. I would expect the same type of companies who are drawn to Sharapova to be drawn to Bouchard -- glamour watches, cosmetics, fashion. Her selling points are she speaks great English, communicates well, and has a very feminine look" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/24).
STAN THE MAN: Stanislas Wawrinka will play in his first Grand Slam final on Sunday, and ESPN's Darren Cahill said Wawrinka not only "had his best year last year on the court, but he also had his best year off the court with a lot of endorsements deals as well." Cahill: "If he was from another country, say from the four Grand Slam countries and he spent about four years inside the top 20, then he would have had some pretty lucrative deals. But because he's coming from Switzerland and is swallowed up a little bit by Roger Federer, it's tough to jump out of that shadow." However, Wawrinka in '13 signed "five really good endorsement deals and now is making some pretty good money off the court" ("Australian Open," ESPN2, 1/23).
The owner of a sandwich shop in NFL Draft prospect Jadeveon Clowney's hometown of Rock Hill, S.C., said that he will "comply with a request" to change the restaurant's marquee sign, which refers to the former Univ. of South Carolina All-American, according to Don Worthington of the ROCK HILL HERALD. The message outside Charlie Ruffalo's Sub Station II for three weeks has read, "Hurry in for our Jadeveon Clowney sub it goes really fast." Ruffalo said that the message "refers to the two speeding tickets Clowney got" last month. He added that the shop "has not profited from using Clowney's name." However, Ruffalo said that Bus Cook, Clowney's agent, has "requested Clowney's name be removed from the marquee and if it wasn't removed threatened legal action." Ruffalo noted that he will "change the message Monday, but added Clowney's name will continue to appear on the sign" (ROCK HILL HERALD, 1/24).