We know already that several celebrities are being lined up to make a big splash during the game telecast. These include Willie Nelson, Celine Dion, Michael Jordan, Jackie Chan and the Osbournes. So, special points to those of you that can attach the correct brand name to the endorsing celebrity from this list: H&R Block, Chrysler, Hanes and Pepsi-Cola. What are the odds that Cedric the Entertainer won't be selling Bud, too?
Here's another question. What do the following brands, which have introduced campaigns since the start of the year, have in common: ESPN, American Express, the National Football League, Gatorade, Tostitos, the Nissan Murano, Nextel, Apple Computer, Dr Pepper and Coca-Cola? Every one of these also has released commercials that feature celebrities, great and small.
Now, can you link these star names to the appropriate new campaign above: Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Penelope Cruz, Mya, Common, LL Cool, Run DMC, Anastacia, Cyndi Lauper, Pauline Rubio, Celia Cruz, Yao Ming, Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer, Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Eric McCormack, George Lopez, Kurt Vonnegut, Jay Leno, Michael Jordan, Don Cheadle, Tiger Woods and Kiefer Sutherland?
It's an exhausting list. And this is only the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday! Note, too, that these are only the new campaigns. These brands and their endorsers battle for space with such established names as T-Mobile's Catherine Zeta-Jones, Fergie for Weight Watchers, Penn and Teller for Hewlett-Packard, Papa Roach for Pepsi. The list goes on.
None of the above even touches on the trailers for movies that feature celebrities, let alone trailers for TV programs, and the actual programs themselves. As you battle through this column, imagine being a consumer struggling through such a celebrity cacophony. This quiz is easy compared to the mental gymnastics consumers must perform to show any commercial recall from a night's viewing.
How many times do you say, or overhear someone else say: "You know those Catherine Zeta-Jones ads?" (Funny how it used to be "those Jamie Lee Curtis ads.") Or similar? This isn't a rant against celebrities in ads-although the above list of "new" and "current" celebrity ads should concentrate minds. (It is by no means comprehensive.) Rather, it is a plea: If you are going to spend the money for celebrities, get value for it and use them.
Recently, BMW Films.com's all-stars, William Shatner (Priceline.com) and Cedric (Bud Light) have all been used to great effect. It's why I like the Dr Pepper tribute series. They are tributes about uniqueness, and they bear some relation to a brand strategy regarding Dr Pepper's taste.
And, despite the knee-jerk critics, the Coke celebrity spots could really work for that brand, too. At least they do something with their stars. When Penelope Cruz belches oh-so-endearingly, Coke is getting value for money out of its star. What that says about our society is another matter!
Stefano Hatfield is contributing editor to Advertising Age and Creativity.