Twelve years after Universal Orlando opened its doors in Disney World’s backyard, the theme park resort aired its first Super Bowl spot during the 2002 title game. It kind of had to. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the tourism industry was in a slump. Attendance at Universal Orlando fell 10% in 2001 compared to attendance in 2000. So the theme park and its agency David & Goliath created a 60-second spot offering prospective travelers “a vacation from the ordinary.”
The spot made a good impression on viewers but wasn’t enough to immediately pull Universal Orlando out of its slump. While attendance to Universal’s Islands of Adventures park rose 10% year-over-year in 2002, attendance at its sister park Universal Studios Orlando fell by 6% year-over-year. And one point in 2002 Disney’s CFO floated the idea of buying its smaller rival.
That deal didn’t happen, seemingly for the better. Eight years later Universal Orlando opened a section dedicated to Harry Potter, replete with a return to Super Bowl advertising ("The Wizarding World of Harry Potter"). Attendance soared, with 17% more people visiting Universal Studios Orlando in 2014 than in 2013 and gaining a percentage point in market share to hit 22.3%.
Director: Alan White. Production company: RadicalMedia. Assistant director: Stephen Maddocks. Executive producers: Donna Portaro, Frank Scherma. Line producer: Dina Oberley.
Chief creative officer: David Angelo. Art director: Tricia Ting. Creative director: Liz Gumbinner. Copywriter/associate creative director: Chuck Meehan. Producer: Anne Kurtzman. Visual effects: Finish Line. Audio post: Loren Silber.
Editorial: Mad River Post. Editors: Emily Dennis, Steve Prestemon, Lucas Eskin.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.