Touching or funny, ads try to stand out
BY MAE ANDERSON Associated Press
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 5:49 AM
NEW YORK - Super Bowl ads have morphed into soap operas.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson shrugged off aliens and other villains so he could get more milk for his kids at breakfast in a Super Bowl spot for the Milk Processor Education Program. Anheuser-Busch's commercial told the story of a baby Clydesdale growing up and returning to his owner for a heartfelt hug years later. And a Jeep ad portrayed the trials and triumphs of families waiting for their return of family members.
The reason for all the drama? With 30-second spots going for as much as $4 million this year and more than 111 million viewers expected to tune in, marketers look for ways to make their ads stand out. And it's increasingly difficult to capture viewers' attention between plays.
"A lot of advertisers are running long commercials to tell these stories that engage people, often in a very emotional way," said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. "These spots that tell stories really stand out in the clutter."
Tear-jerking mini epics
Chrysler started the long-format commercial trend last year, with a two-minute spot starring Clint Eastwood.
This year, Chrysler led the trend again with its two-minute salute to troops and their families. The ad featured Oprah Winfrey reading a letter from the Jeep brand to encourage families to stay hopeful.
Wendy Ochoa, a teacher who lives in Novi, Mich., said the ad was very emotional. "It tugs on your heartstrings, how can it not ... ."
Audi's 60-second ad in the first quarter, that featured an ending that was voted on by viewers prior to the game, showed the story of a boy gaining confidence from driving his father's Audi to the prom, kissing the prom queen and getting decked by the prom king.
Comedy goes long
Not all of the storytelling ads were dramatic, though.
Samsung's two-minute ad showed Seth Rogen ("The Guilt Trip") and Paul Rudd ("Role Models") getting called in to do a "Next Big Thing" ad for Samsung. But they're agitated once they realize that they're sharing the spotlight. LeBron James, star forward for the NBA's Miami Heat, makes a cameo, appearing on a tablet.
Mercedes-Benz's 90-second ad had a Faustian plot.
A devilish Willem Dafoe ("Spider-Man") shows a man everything that comes with a Mercedes-Benz CLX: A date with supermodel Kate Upton, dancing with Usher, driving around with beautiful girls, getting on the cover of magazines including Vanity Fair and GQ, getting to drive on a racetrack.
The man almost signs his soul away for the car. But then he sees a billboard that says the car starts at $29,900, and backs out of the deal.
Actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starred in the Super Bowl advertisement for The Milk Processor Education Program, known as MilkPep and popular for its "Got Milk?" print ads. Courtsey / Associated Press