NBC Makes Super Bowl Work Overtime for Its Own Programs

Ads for GE, Hulu, Universal Orlando Add to Pitchfest

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The savviest marketer in Super Bowl XLIII? Kudos to the likes of Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Cash4Gold, but the one marketer that managed to wring the most out of the night was the broadcaster of the event, NBC.

'30 Rock' star Alec Baldwin took a decidedly clever turn as an alien out to help Hulu corrupt minds by beaming out more hours of TV over the internet.
'30 Rock' star Alec Baldwin took a decidedly clever turn as an alien out to help Hulu corrupt minds by beaming out more hours of TV over the internet.
NBC, its personalities and its programs made multiple appearances throughout the day, sometimes through programming choices, sometimes in clever promos that looked more like polished ads and sometimes when NBC stars were woven into marketers' spots. The effect was an all-out assault on the senses by the Peacock and its progeny.

There was some deliberation behind all the NBC promotion, said Adam Stotsky, president-marketing, NBC Entertainment. "[NBC Universal CEO] Jeff Zucker and [NBC Sports President] Dick Ebersol recognized that this is the significant, most-watched TV event of the year, and I think we did, as a company, a really great job of showcasing the breadth and depth of our talent," he said.

Across its properties
NBC used its pre-game show to feature talent from across its properties: Maria Bartiromo from CNBC; Keith Olbermann from MSNBC; "Top Chef" personnel from Bravo; and Matt Lauer of "Today" interviewing President Barack Obama. The casts of Monday-night shows "Chuck," "Medium" and "Heroes" appeared at seemingly every break, and even Jay Leno was seen in one break zipping along in one of his signature classic cars to promote his upcoming move to 10 p.m.

NBC parent company General Electric ended up running two spots during the game, and others came from Hulu, the online-video site jointly owned with News Corp.; NBC Universal's Universal Pictures; and NBC Universal's Universal Orlando resort.

What's more, NBC talk-show host Conan O'Brien was featured prominently in an ad for Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light, while "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin took a decidedly clever turn as an alien out to help Hulu corrupt minds by beaming out more hours of TV over the internet. Even "Saturday Night Live" pitched in with a specially created ad for Pepsi that used an ongoing gag known as "MacGruber."

Anheuser-Busch had been kicking around the idea of using Mr. O'Brien in an ad for Bud Light for some time, said Bob Lachky, Anheuser-Busch's chief creative officer. "We pretty much came up with the core idea, and they fine-tuned" the concept, Mr. Lachky said, "to meet Conan's taste."

Network promos
What had many people talking the day after the game, however, were NBC's promos, which included talent from the network's Monday-night programs singing the old chestnut "Feelin' All Right"; a visit to an office where people are suffering from "LMAO," or "laughing my ass off," because of the network's Thursday-night comedies; and a look at the cast of "Heroes" using their superpowers in a football milieu.

NBC had five minutes of promo time during the game but produced about 48 different spots to air during its coverage throughout the day, Mr. Stotsky said.

"I never understood this second-class-citizenship perception between advertising and promos. It's all meant to sell, right?" said Mr. Stotsky, who once worked for the Fallon ad agency. "There are different ways above and beyond using clips of the shows. The mission, the challenge that is sent out to my team, was how do you make work that's worth this unrivaled environment, when the best of the best is going to be showcased?"

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