All over the world, Super Bowl viewers watched ads with the game, but not the ones U.S. marketers paid up to $2.5 million for. Viewers in Canada saw ads for products that don't exist in the U.S.
Outside the U.S., the Canadians try hardest to generate excitement around Super Bowl spots. With almost 4 million people watching the English-language broadcast each year and an audience of 700,000 on a French-language channel (Super Bowl ads in French are a steal, priced at less than $7,000), Budweiser, Labatt and Frito-Lay are all breaking new creative. But there isn't quite the frenzied viewing and ranking of Super Bowl TV spots that Canadians enviously see their U.S. neighbors enjoying.
"The only thing lacking here is the excitement and marketing pizzazz," said Dan Pawych, creative director at Omnicom Group's Downtown Partners, Toronto. "In Canada we try, but it just hasn't taken off."
Mr. Pawych has spots running on the Super Bowl in Canada for Budweiser and Labatt-owned Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale. The shop also created a Budweiser spot featuring Cedric the Entertainer that was in contention to run in the U.S. but didn't make Anheuser-Busch's highly competitive cutoff for its Super Bowl slots.
In the Canadian broadcast, Budweiser has eight pregame spots and eight during the game, said Rob McCarthy, director of marketing for the brand in Canada, where it is distributed by Labatt. "We take it seriously and it's huge here," he said. Mr. McCarthy is fielding three new Budweiser spots using the tagline "For all you do, this Bud's for you," in which actions speak louder than words.
In "Costume Party," a fun-loving guy at a costume party outmaneuvers his rivals for the glamorous Cleopatra's attention by virtue of his clever costume-he's dressed up as the chair she sits in. In "Sand Bar," girls at the beach check out sand sculptures and opt for the guy who built an entire bar out of sand to serve Budweiser. In "Winter Party," a wild party with beer and sushi in the form of entire fish plucked from the ocean turns out to be taking place in a small shack on the ice.
In an ad only Canadians could love, an Alexander Keith spot called "Chalet" stars a bizarre Nova Scotian in a kilt who tries to persuade women to help him unfreeze bottles of beer with their body heat. With typical Canadian understatement, the tagline that conveys passion for the brand is "Those who like it, like it a lot."
Frito-Lay is breaking an even more tempting 30-second version of an existing 15-second spot touting the improved taste of Lay's Ketchup, a flavor sold only in Canada. "Worth the Wait" by BBDO, Toronto, imitates ketchup's slow-pour with potato chips that won't come out of the bag and the line "More great ketchup taste than ever."