* Clint Eastwood stirs emotions for Chrysler
* Chevy Armageddon ads stand out over Ford
* Some too familiar old themes fall flat
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, Feb 5 General Motors
scored with an Armageddon-proof Chevy truck while a Clint
Eastwood pep talk for America won notice for rival Chrysler
during the high-stakes brand battle at Sunday's Super Bowl.
Other commercials from companies such as Anheuser-Busch
and Coca-Cola repeated old themes or failed to
stand out during American TV's most valuable advertising time,
according to industry experts and online comments.
Companies that spent $3.5 million on average for a 30-second
spot ran commercials featuring comedy, celebrity and skin as the
New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in front of a
TV audience estimated to reach about 100 million.
One GM ad that showed a Chevy Silverado truck surviving a
2012 Mayan end-of-the-world scenario won praise from marketing
The spot "really stood out" among a heavy rotation of car
commercials, said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at
Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, which
runs a review of Super Bowl ads.
In the ad, the truck's driver looks for his friend, "Dave,"
but learns Dave, who drives a Ford, didn't make it.
A pre-game letter from a Ford attorney asked GM not to run
the ad, arguing that insurance industry data show it is Ford,
and not GM, that makes the safer pickup truck.
In a Chrysler Group LLC commercial, a Dirty Harry-like Clint
Eastwood proclaimed it "Halftime in America," a reminder of
Ronald Reagan's optimistic "Morning in America" slogan, and
chronicled Detroit's fall and rise to rally the rest of the
country. The ad was similar to a rapper Eminem's Chrysler
commercial talking up Detroit last year.
"It's tough to do a serious commercial in the Super Bowl. I
think it will last," said Ewen Cameron, CEO for WPP ad agency
Berlin Cameron United.
The Eastwood ad generated online buzz for its emotional
appeal and comments that it looked like an Obama re-election
commercial from Chrysler, recipient of a taxpayer
"Powerful spot," David Axelrod, a senior adviser to
President Obama's re-election team, tweeted about the ad.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer also
weighed in on Twitter. "Saving the America Auto Industry:
Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on," he tweeted.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign had no
involvement with the ad.
According to executives from Comcast Corp's NBC
television network, broadcaster of the Super Bowl, a 30-second
commercial slot cost $3.5 million on average this year, up from
$3 million for last year's Super Bowl, which was on News Corp's
Fox network. The game could easily generate more than
a quarter of a billion dollars in ad sales.
NFL games, especially the Super Bowl, rank among the
dwindling number of TV programs that still draw huge live
The games are so valuable to advertisers that the NFL
recently secured hefty pay increases that will bring in about $6
billion a year from Walt Disney Co's ESPN, broadcast
networks and satellite TV provider DirecTV for rights to
air games and sell the advertising time.
The average price of Super Bowl ads have risen more than 50
percent in the last 10 years, defying economic downturns and
secular industry issues. NBC sold out all 70 spots around this
year's game shortly after Thanksgiving weekend in November and
reached a new high with one slot selling for around $4 million.
COKE, BUD ADS GO FLAT
Anheuser-Busch, which has typically bought exclusivity as
the only beer advertiser during recent Super Bowls, was again
the biggest spender, according to industry sources.
The company, known for humorous ads, used straightforward
pitches for its new Bud Light Platinum in the game's first half.
Comedy returned in the second half with a spot featuring a dog
trained to fetch Bud Light.
"Other than that, I think the Bud ads were kind of dull,"
said Charles Taylor, marketing professor at the Villanova School
Coke ranked among companies trying to get fans with tablets
or smartphones talking about their ads on social media. Aside
from their TV spots, Coke's trademark polar bears appeared on
Twitter, Facebook and a website responding to the game. Fans
could follow along with a Twitter hashtag #GameDayPolarBears.
"We've seen that before with the polar bears. There's no
real novelty there," said George Belch, a San Diego State
University marketing professor.
Rival Pepsi offered a free video download of "X Factor USA"
winner Melanie Amaro's performance of "Respect" in its ad for
fans using the Shazam app. Elton John also appeared.
Many ads generated buzz well before the game began as
advertisers posted them online days ago to try to build early
excitement. Millions of people had viewed pitches from
Volkswagen, Honda and others ahead of the contest.
Volkswagen featured a dog getting in shape to
chase the new Beetle plus a nod to last year's "Star
Wars"-themed spot with an appearance by Darth Vader in the
movie's alien-filled cantina. ()
In a Honda Motor Co spot, Matthew Broderick played
off his iconic film role as Ferris Bueller by calling in sick
and spending a day cruising around town in a Honda CR-V. ()
Other celebrities made appearances. Buff and tattooed soccer
star David Beckham posed in his underwear for Swedish fashion
retailer H&M. Actor Will Arnett promoted online video service
Some familiar campaigns returned. E*Trade Financial Corp
brought back its talking baby. CareerBuilder.com's chimps ruined
a business trip. GoDaddy, the website for domain names, kept its
racy theme going with race-car driver Danica Patrick and fitness
trainer Jillian Michaels applying body paint to an apparently
Many ads featured "babies, celebrities, big musical
productions, a lot of the usual things. It was a little bit
familiar," WPP's Cameron said.