The company's 15-second spots for Skechers' Shape-Ups toning shoes, featuring testimonials and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, were far from the tricked-out spectacles most commercials delivered that night. But the company had decided to take a chance when a hole in the ad lineup appeared just two weeks before last year's game.
"We didn't have a spot ready, so we didn't throw a creative masterpiece on the game," said Leonard Armato, president of Skechers Fitness Group. "We just threw a pretty basic, testimonial spot on. We put the voice of Joe Montana on to see if men would be be interested in the idea of getting more out of every step and everyday fitness. But then men actually started buying it."
Skechers sales soared 30% last year to more than $2 billion, due at least in part to that last-minute Super Bowl buy, according to Mr. Armato. "There are those that say we didn't put a very creatively compelling commercial on, but that's not the end goal," he said. "It was a great result for the company."
This year Skechers is returning to the Super Bowl with a new celebrity spokeswoman, Kim Kardashian, in a spot that will air after the two-minute warning in fourth quarter. "The idea is that Kim Kardashian is going to break someone's heart in front of 100 million people," teased Mr. Armato. "It'll be a little bit like art imitating life."
Shape-Ups, which were originally targeted to adults 40 and older, are going after a younger audience this year, with Ms. Kardashian at the center of a strategy that includes social media and traditional PR. The Super Bowl spot will direct viewers to Facebook for additional content and a call to action. "Kim will be challenging people to get rid of your bad habits and get your friends on board," Mr. Armato said.
Ms. Kardashian's ubiquity as a reality star, tabloid staple and major tweeter certainly make her an easy sell as a spokesperson. But didn't we just see her last summer at an event for the competition, Reebok EasyTone?
"There was never any kind of an endorsement relationship between her and any other footwear company," Mr. Armato said. "She never put her name behind anyone's product. There's a difference between attending an event you're invited to and actually vouching for a product, which she does for us and I'm very comfortable with that."
As for his ad's risky end-of-game real estate, Mr. Armato is optimistic about the game's holding power over the audience, however events on the field play out. "People won't tune out if the game is lop-sided," he said.