Super Bowl ads: The art of seduction

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There’s a misconception about Super Bowl advertisements.

‘People think we are just there to purely entertain people,’ said Michael Sheldon, chief executive of Deutsch LA, which created a 60-second Super Bowl spot to promote the Volkswagen Beetle. ‘But an advertiser’s mission is to get you to fall in love with their brand and buy their product.’

The art, and the challenge, is to weave a company’s brand and message into the story line of a commercial without making it feel forced or heavy-handed.


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‘Ideas must come from a strong strategic foundation,’ said David Angelo, founder and chief creative officer of David & Goliath, an El Segundo advertising agency that produced a 60-second Super Bowl commercial for car company Kia to promote its Optima sedan. ‘Strategy leads everything, and it’s all about finding that real human insight.’

In this case, that insight was gleaned by a David & Goliath account executive who heard a comment that struck a chord during a Kia research panel discussion last year.

‘One of the consumers talked about the Optima sedan as being the car that they had been dreaming of,’ Angelo said. ‘We took that point and decided to turn it up a notch.’

Kia’s loud advertisement features Brazilian fashion model Adriana Lima, fighter Chuck Liddell and the heavy metal band Motley Crue. Although the spot is aimed at men, ‘we didn’t want to ignore the female audience either,’ Angelo said. So the commercial ends with a telenovela-like nod to dreamy-eyed women.

‘We wanted to not only showcase the product, and the new design of the Optima, but also connect with viewers in a way that’s never been done before,’ Angelo said.

Santa Monica-based agency RPA tackled the task with a lighthearted look back -- and forward -- to promote the new Honda CR-V. The agency tailored its 60-second Super Bowl spot to amplify the car company’s ‘LEAP List’ campaign, which encourages people to make a list of adventures they want to pursue because ‘life happens fast.’

‘We spent a lot of time on this before we really cracked it,’ said Jason Sperling, RPA group creative director. He estimated that the firm worked for three months before nailing the concept.

The RPA team kept coming back to the John Hughes movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ The quintessential coming-of-age story revolves around Ferris, played by Matthew Broderick, as he spends an exhilarating day of freedom. Joe Baratelli, executive creative director at RPA said, ‘We thought, what if Matthew plays hooky again and the CR-V is his partner in crime?’

The result is ‘Matthew’s Day Off.’ Honda and RPA are betting that the commercial will resonate with legions of fans who first identified with Ferris when they were rebellious teenagers but are now parents shuttling their own kids around in SUVs.

Even the selection of a French bulldog to be the star of Skechers USA’s highly anticipated advertisement served a purpose.

The Manhattan Beach shoe company is using the trendy dog and the ad to launch its new line of high-performance shoes. The company’s goal is for its shoes to break into a pack dominated by established racers such as Nike, Adidas and New Balance.

‘The dog serves as a juxtaposition for the fleet-footed animal,’ said Rob Siltanen, chief executive of Siltanen & Partners in El Segundo, which created Skechers’ Super Bowl ad. ‘The question is always how relevant some of these messages are.’

The French bulldog, dubbed Mr. Quiggly, ‘is a metaphor for the technology and the spirit of the GOrun shoe brand,’ added Leonard Armato, president of the Skechers Fitness Group.


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-- Meg James