Kevin Federline follows in the footsteps of Fabio as the star of Nationwide's second Super Bowl commercial.
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Steven Schreibman, VP-advertising and brand management at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., hopes this year's Super Bowl commercial featuring Kevin Federline does more than reach the 45 million households that tune in. He's hoping for a redux of Nationwide's first Super Bowl spot last year. That ad featured Fabio and lit a media frenzy worth $7.2 million in ad value, thanks to 158 million impressions and 500 media stories, according to the company's own in-house return-on-investment measurements.
The romance-novel cover boy was interviewed by media outlets such as "Fox & Friends" and "Good Morning America," not to mention 20 local TV stations across the country and dozens of print stories about the "Life Comes at You Fast" spot, which showed Fabio as an old man still romancing the ladies.
This year's Super Bowl spot, from TM Advertising, strikes a similar theme, showing Mr. Federline living out every possible rap-video cliche, before we discover the failed rap star was actually daydreaming it all while manning the french-fries station at a fast-food joint as his manager yells at him to get to work.
If it happened to K-Fed ...
The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company clearly plans to juice the controversy surrounding Mr. Federline's divorce from Ms. Spears and the ensuing custody trial over their two children for all its worth.
"We're using his story," Mr. Schreibman admitted unabashedly. "We are leveraging his story to illustrate life comes at you fast and how it happens every day and if it happens to someone like this person it can happen to you."
Mr. Schreibman declined to discuss the financial arrangements for Mr. Federline's participation in the spot and the surrounding media publicity, but said: "It gives Kevin a platform to talk about the next phase of his life and it allows him to come across as smart. It's really his version of a 'Saturday Night Live' skit."
It's certainly not the first time the brand has teamed up with a down-and-out celebrity. Two years ago, the insurer launched a spot featuring M.C. Hammer, who filed for bankruptcy, showing him rapping and partying in one scene and his house being foreclosed on in the next.
"We align ourselves with celebrities that have latent journalistic interest," Mr. Schreibman said. "[Mr. Federline] has been quiet throughout this entire ordeal and so many journalists out there want to ask him about it."
Ready to meet the press
The company has coached the much maligned Mr. Federline to be ready for media interviews. A spokesman for Nationwide set up an interview with Mr. Federline with Advertising Age, but under the ground rules questions about his personal life could not be asked.
Speaking from a Los Angeles fast-food joint, where the commercial is currently being filmed, Mr. Federline explained why he agreed to do the commercial.
"It's just a good opportunity to poke fun at myself and let everyone know I'm not taking myself too seriously. I'm having a good time," Mr. Federline said while wearing a red button-up fast-food uniform with a name tag and red hat. "I saw some of their old commercials and to me, it is hilariously tasteful. And as I work with them I get to learn more about who they are and what they are about."
When asked if he thought the commercial could raise his profile on the national-media scene, he said: "How can it not? I'm doing a national commercial for a Super Bowl."