With the Super Bowl set for Sunday, advertisers have given us a peek at what they’ve got planned. They have a lot at stake as they prepare to use a giant chunk of their marketing budgets for what is perennially most expensive promotion opportunity of the year. Creative directors are angling to make an impact – whether it’s through a laugh or a pull of the heartstrings.
There’s much at stake: when the NFL championship airs on CBS, advertisers will vie for the attention of an audience that last year had a viewership of 114 million, making it one of the most-watched telecasts ever.
With so many eyes on the screen, companies are willing to pay millions of dollars for 30 mere seconds of airtime. The average rate for a 30-second Super Bowl ad has risen by 76% during the past decade – reaching $4.4 million in 2015, according to Kantar Media. It’s the priciest commercial time on TV.
“The demand for the Super Bowl has been extraordinary,” CBS CEO Les Moonves said during a UBS conference last month, without disclosing specific price tags for this year’s ad inventory. “We’ve sold most of the spots for very, very high prices.”
A wide range of companies will appear during the commercial breaks of this year’s game. Most haven’t revealed their strategy or the actual ad, but some are giving sneak peeks.
One of the Super Bowl’s most familiar advertisers is among the first to reveal details on some of the ads it plans to air. Anheuser-Busch, the Super Bowl’s exclusive beer sponsor for the 28th straight year, scooped up 3½ minutes of airtime to run five ads for four brands: Bud Light, Budweiser, Shock Top and Michelob Ultra.
Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales will once again make an appearance. Michelob ULTRA’s 30-second ad will be its first in the Big Game since 2010. Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer will bring plenty of laughs to a “Bud Light Party” in an ad supporting that brand. And Shock Top, an unfiltered wheat beer, will feature comic T.J. Miller as its “unfiltered spokesperson’’ in a spot that will mark its Super Bowl debut.
Sweet snacks and soft drinks will also be advertised, with Skittles and Butterfinger in the big game, as well as Mountain Dew’s Kickstart beverage. Doritos will get airtime, too.
Skittles’ ad will star rocker Steven Tyler, and marks the first time a celebrity has been part of Skittles’ “Taste the Rainbow’’ ad campaign.
Healthier fare, such as the avocados from Mexico, will also be on the small screen.
And, as usual, a bevy of car companies will be represented – more than nine so far. Among the brands planning one spot or more include Acura, Audi, Buick, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mini and Toyota. Some, like Buick, are first-timers.
All will be watching closely to see if they have a Super Sunday!.
Presidential Hopefuls Rely on Social Media Celeb Endorsements
In a world that is increasingly Kardashian-ized – where Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are the conduit between socially savvy stars and the public and potentially influence voters, especially millennial ones, by the masses – it is perhaps Hollywood that has emerged as the most fertile ground for partnerships for the presidential candidates.
Celebrity endorsements are not new, of course – having been raised to an art form during President Bill Clinton’s first run for the White House. But the stars and their social media prowess have never been as central to the strategies of White House aspirants.
Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty, recently pledged his support for Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, creating a one-minute video of the pair duck hunting in the style of the reality series. Less than one week after it was posted, the clip had garnered more than 1.2 million YouTube and Facebook views. “We intentionally filmed it and cut it in a way where it almost feels like one is watching an episode, but it’s done thematically in a way that [is similar to] the Duck Dynasty show is and then packaged with a petition [link] and a custom landing page to allow voters to join the campaign,” explains Josh Perry, social media director for Cruz’s campaign. Continuing their relationship, the Cruz and Robertson camps are developing a line of branded products that will be sold on Cruz’s website, proceeds going to the conservative firebrand’s campaign.
As for the GOP front-runner Donald Trump, he has put much less energy into enlisting the aid of digital stars. The Donald’s campaign stop in Pensacola, Fla., last month produced a viral smash, featuring three young girls in star-spangled cheerleader outfits performing to an over-the-top, patriotic ditty dubbed “The Official Donald Trump Jam.” The clip was posted to the YouTube channel of Fox 10 Phoenix and earned more than 4 million views in just a few days, plus millions more impressions via other media that picked it up.
On the opposite side of the aisle, Andrew Forrest, director of audience development for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, notes that while its social media strategy involves building audiences via its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, it is also “thinking about how we can put our content in front of other outlets or well-established social influencers.” In one of the highest-profile examples of a campaign forging a formalized relationship with a pop-culture personality this campaign season, Clinton’s team handed Lena Dunham, creator and star of HBO’s Girls, the keys to the Democrat’s Instagram account, which has 679,000 followers. In December, the Clinton feed posted three photos of the actress talking to voters in New Hampshire, drawing 43,500 likes and more than 1,800 comments. For her part, Dunham shared six pictures from her Hillary stumping with her 2.3 million Instagram followers, racking up an additional 124,500 likes and some 5,000 comments.
With that kind of engagement in mind, Clinton’s principal party rival for the presidency, Sen. Bernie Sanders, spawned an overnight video hit when rapper Michael Render – commonly known as Killer Mike – posted a six-part interview with the candidate on his social media accounts, covering everything from gun control to marijuana legalization and social justice. The clips on YouTube have been watched more than 1.8 million times, with an additional 274,800 views on Facebook.
Of course, nobody knows whether any of this will translate into actual votes. And while the campaigns would obviously disagree, there are those who contend that this unprecedented focus on celebrity contributes to the general dumbing down of political discourse in this country. “It’s always been difficult for younger folks [to understand political issues], but now you layer the social media snark and entertainment on top of it and I wonder if the seriousness of the debate is lost,” David Almacy, partner at Engage, a digital firm that works with Republican candidates, told Adweek.
Golden Mic | Fox News Moderator Megyn Kelly Was Star of Debate
While Republican presidential candidates – minus The Donald – duked it out in the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, perhaps the real star was Fox News host and moderator Megyn Kelly.
Kelly was particularly sharp in her performance, calling out businessman Donald Trump as “the elephant not in the room,” catching others flip-flopping on immigration, and criticizing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s relentless attack ads on other Republican candidates.
Kelly, of course, is a big reason that GOP front-runner Donald Trump refused to participate. Ever since their run-in at the first primary debate last August, Trump has maintained that Kelly is a “lightweight” who doesn’t ask fair questions. (Never mind that he previously said she’s a great moderator.) Unreasonable as Trump’s critique might be, all eyes were on Kelly and her questions in Des Moines.
And she was majestic in her approach. Kelly can be confrontational and charming all at once, which is the hallmark of a credible, professional journalist. . It’s easy to argue with a journalist no one likes, but it’s much tougher to pick a fight with one who so easily wins over the viewers you hope to turn into your voters. And Kelly stole the show during many aspects of the debate. And for that, she takes this week’s Golden Mic!
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!
» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @spinsurgeon.