View Slideshow

The Super Bowl is more social than ever — thanks to advertising tie-ins with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This story first appeared in the February 5, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I expect to see a lot more ‘For more…see Facebook, Twitter or other social media,’ in this year’s Super Bowl commercials,” said Mitch Joel, president of digital marketing agency Twist Media, referring to the growing number of ads referencing social networks in the past 12 months.

And with the cost of 30-second TV spots between $2.5 million and $3 million, along with tough economic times, the action for advertisers has started well before CBS begins its telecast of the game at 6:25 p.m. Sunday, and it will continue well past the final whistle.

“It’s the only time America gets involved in advertising,” Drew Neisser, chief executive officer and founder of Renegade, an alternative marketing agency, said of the communal moment and entertainment value created by Super Bowl commercials. “X number of people will be doing searches online, based on Super Bowl commercials, while they’re watching the game.”

That’s what Super Bowl XLIV advertisers like Dockers, Dove and Denny’s are counting on.

This year, they may also benefit from heightened interest in the telecast’s sold-out national commercials because of the controversy and buzz about CBS accepting a Super Bowl spot from Focus on the Family featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, which is to carry an antiabortion message, and rejecting a commercial from gay dating service ManCrunch.com.

In post-game day action, there will be 30-second spots starting Feb. 12 in movie theaters nationwide for Dove’s Men + Care, which is being advertised in the 30-second, second-quarter commercial “Manthem,” said Linda Cornelius, a managing director and senior partner at Ogilvy & Mather, which created “Manthem,” as well as Dove’s first TV spot in the Fifties, and the signature phrase “one-quarter cleansing cream.”

A 60-second version of “Manthem” will be posted online at YouTube, Hulu and Yahoo Sports, among other destinations, immediately after the game.

More Super Bowl Coverage:
How Fashion and Football Overlap >>
Super Bowl Sidelines: Commercial Earnings Through the Years >>

“There is the social experience of watching the Super Bowl, as so many people do,” Cornelius said. “But with the technology now available, people can look at ads after the Super Bowl TV show. We want people to talk about it. We want people to link to it.”

Dockers, which is pegging a khakis revival campaign to what it’s tagging the “manliest day of the year” — even if 40 to 50 percent of the Super Bowl viewers are projected to be women — started its ad push early. It has been seeding about 450 entertainment, sports and men’s Web sites this week with a seven-second video teaser for its 30-second Super Bowl commercial that will include a call to action for its khakis giveaway, Feb. 7 to 15. Among the sites are Comedy Central, Men’s Health, Esquire and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

The Dockers marketing effort will live on, as it builds a Habitat for Humanity house in Homestead, Fla., chronicles the construction on facebook.com/dockers, and posts at its Facebook and Twitter pages a 35-minute documentary created for Dockers about masculinity, “The Emasculating Truth.”


Produced by Van and Casey Neistat, this serio-comic documentary “wades through what it means to be a man today,” said Jennifer Sey, Dockers’ global vice president of marketing. The introduction to a two-minute, 14-second YouTube teaser for “The Emasculating Truth,” which has been viewed 19,016 times since it went up Nov. 22, says: “Man-skills are on the decline. Skinny jeans are on the rise. And male testosterone? Declining at 1 percent a year. What does it all mean for mankind?” Scheduled to be released online in the second half of this month, the documentary will join Neistat films such as “iPod’s Dirty Secret” and “Michael Jackson.”

Advertisers are “realizing the Super Bowl is at best a seminal event that is a piece of a bigger opportunity,” said Marian Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. The reason: Fans are more likely to be communicating about their game-related activities while they’re watching the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.

“You might be invited to a party,” Salzman said. “You’ll be texting messages to friends. You’ll be blogging on commercials and passing things along in real time.”

To engage the audience as the game is televised, Dove will be tweeting with its more than 1,700 followers — and hoping they pass the word to friends and family — “encouraging them to watch ‘Manthem’ during or after the Super Bowl,” said Kathy O’Brien, vice president of skin at Dove parent Unilever. The campaign marks Dove’s return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2006, when it aired “Little Girls,” part of the personal care brand’s campaign for “real beauty” and “self-esteem,” O’Brien said.

“The Super Bowl is a lightning rod,” said Ogilvy & Mather’s Cornelius. “It presents an opportunity for surrounding a commercial with other marketing activity.”

To wit: Denny’s will be serving a second helping of its free (usually $5.99) Grand Slam breakfasts for one day, Tuesday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m, and make the offer in a Super Bowl spot. Last year, Denny’s gave away a reported two million breakfasts at a cost of $5 million, which the restaurant chain equated to about $50 million in “free” publicity.

The week after Super Bowl XLIII, online searches for Denny’s name increased fourfold, according to Internet ratings agency Hitwise.

Frito-Lay is reprising its popular “Crash the Super Bowl” challenge, airing three fan-created ads on Sunday, selected from 4,000 entries. Football fans in January chose three favorites from six finalists, culled by Frito-Lay, by voting for their favorite finalist no more than once daily at crashthesuperbowl.com. (The finalists each will receive $25,000.)

“Social media will become less of an island and more of a continuum as consumers lead fluid [media] lives,” predicted Renegade’s Neisser.

It’s becoming more common for people to be watching TV while sending a text message and looking at something online that’s related to the TV program, he noted.

Despite the Super Bowl’s uncontested championship status for attracting a mega audience — 90 or so million viewers in recent years — it’s been getting tougher for some advertisers to justify the expense. Two of the game’s biggest advertisers, General Motors and Pepsi, are sitting out this year.

For now, based on previews, ad aficionados can look forward to spots featuring pro athletes and entertainers such as Kiss for Dr. Pepper Cherry, Brett Favre for Hyundai, Charles Barkley for Taco Bell, several of the 1985 “Super Bowl Shuffle” Chicago Bears for Boost Mobile, race car driver Danica Patrick being eyed by men in a GoDaddy.com ad, and Don Rickles in a voice-over for a Teleflora commercial.


View Slideshow