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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Anheuser-Busch has "tacked on another 30 seconds" to its Super Bowl XLVIII media buy, giving the brewer a total of four minutes of ad time, according to Matthew Hibbard of the ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The extra time "will be added to Budweiser’s 'Hero’s Welcome' ad, bringing the total length of that ad to 60 seconds" (, 1/28). In St. Louis, Lisa Brown noted in a teaser released yesterday, the "Hero's Welcome" spot "chronicles a soldier's homecoming." A-B said that the ad is part of a year-long social media effort "to encourage consumers to honor the U.S. military by using the hashtag #salute on social media" (, 1/28). Meanwhile, NBC’s “Today” this morning had an exclusive look at Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” ad, and NBC’s Joe Fryer said the spot is a “sequel” to the brand’s ad from last year that featured the connection between a rancher and his Clydesdale that topped the USA Today Ad Meter. After the ad was shown, “Today” co-host Carson Daly said, “I want a beer so bad right now. I’m so thirsty. … Budweiser, you’re amazing.” Co-host Savannah Guthrie added, “Horse, puppies, you had us at hello” (“Today,” NBC, 1/29). 

CHEERIO, MATE! In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reported General Mills' Cheerios brand, which in May introduced a commercial "featuring an interracial family that unexpectedly generated an outpouring of vituperative online remarks," has now "decided to bring out a sequel during this Sunday’s championship game." The sequel "features the same cast members portraying the same contemporary family as in the original: black father, white mother and biracial daughter." The plot "will be centered on the father’s disclosure to his daughter that she is soon to have a brother, and on her humorous reaction." Cheerios VP/Marketing Camille Gibson said that there were "several potential commercials that executives considered for the Super Bowl." She added the ad featuring the interracial family "ended up being the spot sparking the most" interest (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).

CHEVY ALL SET: In Detroit, Bomey & Snavely report Chevrolet's first of two Super Bowl ads "promotes the heavy-duty version of the recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup." The Silverado ad, which was released online yesterday, shows a "stud bull finding romance to the tune of Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing.'" Chevy "plans to market the ad aggressively online in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, including a home page takeover" tomorrow on YouTube. GM "declined to provide details about the second ad, though both will air on Fox during the first quarter" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/29). AD AGE's Michael McCarthy reports the 60-second ad via Leo Burnett, Detroit, is titled "Romance" and "starts off with the familiar 'A man and his truck' refrain." However, the ad midway through will "pull a switcheroo" on viewers. The ad is "Budweiser-ish in its use of animals and humor." Chevy Global CMO Tim Mahoney believes the ad will "surprise viewers looking for a good laugh" (, 1/29). Also in Detroit, Melissa Burden reports Chevy will air "two ads in the post game and award the Most Valuable Player a new Silverado High Country truck" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/29).

TOYOTA TINKERS: In Newark, Stacy Jones notes Toyota "has decided to draft off the buzz generated by a 'Muppets Most Wanted' trailer scheduled to air during the Super Bowl by casting the whole gang in its 60-second spot starring Terry Crews." The trailer "spoofs a horror movie," with a second teaser leaving audiences "to wonder how Crews goes from being stunned to have stumbled upon the Muppets to turning his button-up shirt into a makeshift cape, wearing his tie as a headband and using his percolating pecs to lead a parade of singing Muppets and dancing Vegas showgirls" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/29). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Chris Woodyard notes nine car companies are "splurging on more than a third of the game's ad time after the coin toss -- marking a third year in which the automakers commanded the largest ad presence." Car companies "are going all out to leverage even bigger results with social media." The goal "isn't just to sell a car, but to create a stir." For some automakers, a "successful ad means a YouTube 'moment' that goes viral," and for others, the game ad "is a chance to open a dialogue" (USA TODAY, 1/29).

: GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving this morning said one of the company’s two Super Bowl ads will show a woman quitting her job. Irving said, “Her boss has no clue that this is happening.” He added of finding someone to participate in the ad, “We just kind of went through our customer profiles to find folks we thought were about ready to take that step” (“GMA,” ABC, 1/29). Irving yesterday said the size of the audience for the Super Bowl is "so darn big that there's really no better opportunity, certainly in the United States, where you can get a message in front of an audience that's captive." He noted having a presence in the Super Bowl "does a good job for us." Irving: "We track our metrics very, very carefully and, frankly, it continues to pay off. ... We do have a lot of measurement and metrics that we use to determine whether we're successful or not. It's not a direct ad, where we expect sales to go up the next day. We expect this to have a great brand reflection and we know throughout the year, that folks refer to the Super Bowl as the thing that made them aware that GoDaddy was there for them to get a domain name" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 1/28).

SQUARE PEG, ROUND HOLE? Squarespace Founder & CEO Anthony Casalena, whose company is running an ad during the Super Bowl for the first time, said the "point of the ad is to draw a distinction between two worlds." Casalena: "One is a kind of cluttered world on the web, which is full of mortgage offers and discounts and memes. And (the other is) this sort of clean world, this refined world, which is where Squarespace operates and we help our customers operate in that second world." He added, "We just wanted to deliver that message in the quickest way possible." He noted the cost of the 30-second spot is a "risk for us, but we've had a history of increasing ad budgets over time," and while $4M "looks like a big number, it's not without context in our budget" ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 1/28).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, who has long maintained an affinity for Skittles, has formally signed a deal to endorse the candy, marking the first time the brand "ever has paid an athlete," according to Darren Rovell of Terms of the deal were unavailable, but in addition to compensating Lynch, Skittles will "donate $10,000 to Lynch's Fam First Foundation for every touchdown he scores" in Super Bowl XLVIII. Skittles also has made "limited edition packages of a 'Seattle Mix,' a bag the brand will hand out this week that includes only circles of blue and green colors." As part of the agreement, Skittles will be "auctioning off a Skittles-covered football helmet and football, and a Skittles-covered megaphone to honor Seattle's 12th man" (, 1/28).

DREAM COME TRUE: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reported Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will star in a 60-second ad for American Family Insurance that "will run before kick-off" in 68 markets. The ad, via Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, also "features a voiceover narrative by noted singer and actor Harry Belafonte." Wilson will be shown "as he walks from the locker room onto a football field." The ad was shot in Qualcomm Stadium during the Seahawks' bye week in November. Two versions of the spot with different "voiceover copy were prepared." One titled "Dreams Deferred" would have run "if the Seahawks didn't make it to the Super Bowl," but viewers will see the version titled "Dreams Realized" (, 1/28). Wilson also appeared in a Super Bowl ad last year for the Wisconsin-based insurer that aired in 50 markets (THE DAILY).

HIGH STEAKS: USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer reports questions remain as to whether the NFL would allow Broncos QB Peyton Manning "to continue his famous 'Omaha' calls during games if he signed a contract with Omaha Steaks." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said, "We would have to address the matter if a player called out a brand name." Schrotenboer notes while "Omaha" only recently has become "associated with Manning, it is a quarterback signal that some NFL teams have used for years as a code word at the line of scrimmage." Manning has "not been paid by Omaha Steaks," and during Super Bowl Media Day yesterday, he "denied being capable of such a calculating plot" (USA TODAY, 1/29). Manning yesterday was asked specifically about a possible deal with Mutual of Omaha, to which he said, "Mutual of Omaha insurance represents an older guy that probably needs to retire. That word meant I was going to retire. Just like when I said I wanted a Bud Light. Bud Lights are for retired players. That's way too smart for me" ("Super Bowl Media Day," NFL Network, 1/28).

: Manning has been quick to quell rumors that he might retire if the Broncos win the Super Bowl, and FS1's Michael Kosta noted the QB "has too much money at stake for him to leave football." Kosta: "There are seven reasons why Peyton Manning is going to come back next year: Sprint, MasterCard, Reebok, Gatorade, Papa John's, Oreos and DirecTV" ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 1/27). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Patrick Finley noted Manning, a Reebok endorser, during Media Day "put a towel over his Nike warmup jacket ... slyly obscuring its Swoosh." Seahawks C Max Unger said, "He knows exactly what he's doing with the brand of Peyton Manning" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/29).

NBA Exec VP/Global Merchandising Sal LaRocca said that if there is "sustained, widespread resistance" from players against the use of sleeved adidas jerseys, they will "not be used in the future," according to Ric Bucher of BLEACHER REPORT. LaRocca said, "We don't have any intention to do anything that is going to compromise the play on the court or that the players are against doing." A majority of the 21 NBA players polled by Bleacher Report saw the introduction of the sleeved jerseys as "simply a means of generating more revenue for the league." LaRocca "did not deny that." However, he noted that the NBPA is "guaranteed a minimum flat amount from merchandise sales" or 50% of all sales, whichever figure is higher. The impact of "being involved in the design stage is illustrated in the player attitude about wearing uniforms with their nicknames on them," which the Nets and Heat already have done. That idea "came from the Heat players," and so far no player "has complained." Several players said that they would "feel different" about the sleeved jerseys "if they'd been allowed input." But LaRocca said that some players were involved in the process, "at least as far as wearing them." LaRocca: "All the (four) teams that are wearing them now involved their players in making that decision." He added, however, that players who wore the jerseys "in one-off situations" like the All-Star Game and Christmas Day games "were not consulted." LaRocca said that plans for "next year's Christmas Day uniforms and the 2015 All-Star Game already are being discussed," and that if the All-Stars "make it clear they don't like the look or feel of this year's uniforms, the league will respond accordingly" (, 1/27).

Electronic Arts yesterday in a quarterly earnings call said it has multiple new games in development with the NFL and still has "a number of years left" on its exclusive console licenses with the league and NFLPA. Industry speculation had suggested EA's pro football licenses expired at the end of '13 following extensions struck during the '11 NFL lockout. EA CEO Andrew Wilson said, "Contrary to some reports, we still have a number of years left on our agreements and we are currently in planning on our next 'Madden' property right now. The relationship continues to be extremely strong." EA reported $1.57B in revenue and $398M during the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $1.18B and $176M during the same period a year ago. But it missed earnings targets due to slower-than-expected sales on legacy gaming platforms (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

KEEPING IT REAL: In N.Y., Ken Belson examines the relationship between the NFL and EA's "Madden" franchise and writes the game is "inextricably entwined with the league." Developers for "Madden" are "sent the same game footage that the coaches on all 32 teams receive each week during the season" in order to aid in the game's "hyper-realism." NFL Dir of Consumer Products Tim Langley said, "Especially the last 10 years, EA has been among our best partners, not just in total dollars, but in the fans they bring in and the fans they retain." Belson notes the NFL also "has editorial oversight" of the game. Langley and other NFL officials "vet thousands of pages of recorded scripts and delete inappropriate dialogue, like the harshest trash talk." Also, illegal plays like chop blocks and helmet-to-helmet hits "are not permitted in the video game ... despite the other efforts at realism" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).

S.F.-based tech firm Fantex yesterday announced that the reservation period for Fantex Series Vernon Davis Convertible Tracking Stock will begin tomorrow at 12:01am ET. Fantex will be offering 421,000 shares of Davis stock at $10 per share. This is the first opportunity for investors to buy shares in a tracking stock linked to the value and economic performance of a brand (Fantex). In N.Y., William Alden noted the Davis stock offer represents "the second attempt by Fantex to pull off an athlete IPO." Fantex last fall "caused a stir on Wall Street and in the sports world when it said it would offer shares linked to the future income" of Texans RB Arian Foster. But "less than a month later, Fantex postponed the offering" when Foster was placed on IR. The company plans to pay Davis $4M for "the tracking shares, with the balance of the IPO covering the costs of the deal." For investors "to make money, the total value" of Davis’ future income has to be "more than" $42M. Fantex has "valued that potential money pot" at $61M. Unlike some other investments, the Fantex tracking shares "do not give the investor a direct legal right to the athlete’s income." The Davis IPO represents "a smaller portion of the athlete’s income than the one" connected to Foster, which, if it "eventually goes forward, would claim" a 20% share. Rather than trade on the NYSE or NASDAQ, the tracking stocks "will trade only on an exchange operated by Fantex, where there is no guarantee of liquidity." Fantex plans to take a 1% commission "from both the buyer and seller in any secondary transactions." Fantex at its core is "a sports marketing and management company, with plans to promote" Davis’ brand after completing the IPO. The company will keep 5% of the money "flowing to investors in the deal." Fantex to promote the offering "is holding a 'road show' tour across" the U.S. in a former Madden Cruiser, the "bus made famous" by Pro Football HOFer John Madden. Investors can "start reserving shares" tomorrow (, 1/28).