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THE SPIN CYCLE with Todd Smith: Ads take center stage for Super Bowl XLVIII

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

The greatest game of the year is set to kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not talking Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks. Yes, it’s the biggest sports event of 2014, and everyone across the globe – including The Spin Cycle – will be dialed-in to see the epic battle between the NFL’s best offense (The Peyton Manning Express) vs. the league’s No. 1 defense (Richard Sherman’s Reputation Wreckers).

That’s all an appetizer to the really big game of the day. Call it the Brand Bowl! Major companies from across the land are suiting-up, lacing-up and spending a whopping $4 million per 30-second ad spot for Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s a fierce competition between ad shops and their vaunted brands, which have spent, for the better part of a year, all their time out-creating each other in hopes of scoring major consumer gold!

So tune in to Fox on Feb. 2 for the Super Bowl from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

To keep your pulse on all the action, The Spin Cycle has turned to the master playbook – the AdAge Super Bowl Ad Chart – to give you everything you need to know for the big game!

This year, Scarlett Johansson will pitch the SodaStream home carbonation machines – going head-to-head with the cola companies. Jaguar is dialing-up Ben Kingsley and two other British villains. Stephen Colbert has gone Wonderful Pistachios for his Super Bowl debut. And David Beckham will throw a deep Hail Mary with H&M’s first Super Bowl shoppable ad.

Squarespace, a web design company, has entered the game this year for the first time. Audi, Axe, Chobani and TurboTax are in; E-Trade is out for the first time in years. So we will certainly miss snarky kids with higher-than-adult IQs giving us investment advice.

Chobani, whose minute-long ad will depict a nature-loving bear in a supermarket, won’t be the only Greek yogurt brand in the big game. Dannon’s Oikos is returning to the Super Bowl, after sitting out 2013, with plans to reunite the men of “Full House:” John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulie.

Here’s a rundown of the top Super Bowl ad contenders:

Anheuser-Busch InBev

The famous brewer’s crucial and expensive Super Bowl plans this year comprise three ads for Bud Light and two for Budweiser. The five ads will run a total of three and a half minutes, one minute less than the brewer bought in the past two Super Bowls. They include two celebrity-filled Bud Light ads, a 60-second spot and a 30-second spot, which will introduce a tagline, “The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens,” ending the four-year-run of “Here We Go.” Teaser ads on TV and online promised appearances by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle and comedian/musician Reggie Watts. Another 30-second Bud Light spot in the game’s first ad slot will promote a new aluminum bottle. One Budweiser ad will bring back the Clydesdale trainer from last year’s well-received “Brotherhood” commercial and spotlight a bond between a Clydesdale and a puppy. The other Budweiser spot will pay tribute to soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

 Audi of America

There will be one 60-second commercial in the first ad break after the third quarter kick-off to promote the new Audi A3


Axe will feature a 30-second depicting a series of soldiers and tyrants turning toward love. Last year the company used its Super Bowl ad to introduce the Apollo product line and a global contest to send 25 fans into space, or at least the very edge of space, aboard private commercial carrier Space Exploration Corp. The contest drew more than a million male and female entrants, according to Unilever.


This thirty-second spot in the second half will promote the new Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, a line extension meant to go head-to-head with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from Hershey. This ad ditches longtime Butterfinger mascot Bart Simpson, for something much more broad while keeping the brand’s clever irreverent personality.


Expect a clever family-oriented spot that will resonate with the audience and score with consumers.


Chevy (GM) – which sat on the sidelines in 2013 – will sport two 60-second ads, to spotlight the company’s new cars and trucks.


Chobani cranked it up this year to a 60-second ad in the third quarter. This ad, called “Ransacked,” will show a bear in a supermarket in a move to depict how hard it is to find “real, natural food.” The spot will unveil the brand’s new platform, “How Matters,” which is meant to describe the company’s mantra of making “nutritious, delicious foods with only natural ingredients accessible to everyone.”


Coca-Cola has ads expected to feature roller skaters and tap dancers to celebrate American society.

Doritos (PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay)

Doritos will be back with two 30-second spots chosen through the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, back for the eighth year in a row. The twist this year – the contest was open for the first time to entries from all 46 countries where the chips are sold. Creators of the winning ads will get the chance to work on the set of “Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”


GoDaddy will have two 30-second ads, one in each half. Expect both spots to feature Danica Patrick, the racecar driver and longtime GoDaddy endorser.


H&M’s 30-second spot during the second quarter will feature David Beckham, and will let viewers with certain Samsung smart TVs use their remote controls to engage with the commercial and buy products from Mr. Beckham’s Bodywear line, using tech from Delivery Agent.

 H.J. Heinz Co.

Heinz, for only the second time in Super Bowl history, will take to the field, and will tap into nostalgia and the belief that when someone picks up a bottle of Heinz Ketchup, they’re triggering all the happy memories they’ve experienced over the years.

Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai will have two ads, and the creative is not yet known. Last year it offered “Team,” about a kid gathering a team to take on some bigger kids, and “Stuck,” about using turbo to escape unsavory other drivers.


Intuit – which makes financial and tax prep software such as Quicken and TurboTax – will boast a 30-second spot in the third quarter announcing the winner of a contest for small businesses. The four finalists were Poop Natural Dairy Compost, dog treat maker Barley Labs, egg company Locally Laid and Beastie Boys antagonist GoldieBlox.


Jaguar pounces into the game with its first-ever Super Bowl ad. This 60-second spot in the third quarter, for this venerable British brand, will promote the new F-Type, starring British actors Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong as a trio of British villains.


Kia is making its fifth consecutive Super Bowl outing to help introduce its new K900 flagship sedan in the United. States. Spots in the last Super Bowl focused on “space babies” and “hotbots.”

M&M’s (Mars)

Mars debated between featuring Snickers or M&M’s this year, and decided to go with the bite-sized candies, whose colorful characters have been featured the past two years in Super Bowl commercials. In recent weeks, Mars has spotlighted its M&M’s peanut variety, but the company hasn’t tipped its hand on the direction.

 Oikos (Dannon)

Dannon made its Super Bowl debut in 2012 with an Oikos Greek spot featuring actor John Stamos, but skipped the 2013 game because it wanted time to evaluate the long-term viability of the Oikos brand, which launched in mid-2011, as well as the sustainability of the relatively young Greek segment. Now it’s back with plans to reunite Mr. Stamos with fellow former “Full House” cast members Bob Saget and Dave Coulie.

 Paramount Pictures (Viacom)

This 30-second spot will promote “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth movie in Hasbro and Paramount’s “Transformers” franchise, due out in June.

 PepsiCo Beverage

Pepsi will feature two 30-second ads in addition to its sponsorship of this year’s halftime show for the second year in a row. Pepsi is emphasizing multiple brands in spots around its NFL sponsorship this year, with new ads featuring each of Pepsi’s varieties — Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Pepsi Next.

 Toyota (Toyota)

Toyota will feature one 60-second spot promoting the Toyota Highlander. For the prior Super Bowl, the automaker bought two 30-second slots, then combined them into a comedic 60-second ad starring Kaley Cuoco from “The Big Bang Theory” as a “RAV4 Genie” who grants wishes for a family.

No Golden Mic | Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks Cornerback

It was definitely not a super moment for Richard Sherman, and the rant heard around the world. This rambling, heated, post-game interview took all the shine and luster off a win that landed the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Sherman – an intelligent Stanford graduate – should have been smart enough to refrain from the bombast he hurled at San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree following the Seahawks’ thrilling 23-17 victory to advance to the Super Bowl. As a result, he spent the better part of a week apologizing for the serious misstep instead of focusing on the Super Bowl. In the end he may hoist the shiny Lombardi Trophy, but there’s no place for a Golden Mic on his shelf.


» 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 todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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