Brands delay Super Bowl plans after Kobe Bryant's death: Tuesday Wake-Up Call
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Delay of game
The death of Kobe Bryant, the massive pop-culture figure and basketball legend who died in a helicopter accident with his daughter this week, has led to a number of marketers pausing their promotional programs, particularly around the Super Bowl. “At least several brands that intended to release their Big Game creative [yesterday] are holding back,” write Jeanine Poggi and Jessica Wohl, including Procter & Gamble’s Olay, Pop-Tarts and Avocados From Mexico. Given that the morning-show circuit on which many of these brands preview their ads has been devoted to the deaths, many segments were canceled anyway; Mtn Dew’s NBC’s “Today” spot was postponed due to the show’s news coverage of the tragedy.
The most-affected advertiser is Planters, whose Super Bowl campaign centered around the death of Mr. Peanut in an accident, and his planned game-day funeral. Writes Poggi and Wohl: “Planters received some backlash on social media on Sunday, following the helicopter crash, for promoted tweets memorializing Mr. Peanut, who is being killed off in a car crash. The company has since paused its online marketing campaign." For its part, Planters said it “will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy.”
Bryant was, of course, a prolific endorser and a master writer, appearing in—and helping create—numerous campaigns. Here, Ann-Christine Diaz recalls some of his greatest work off the court, while Icaro Doria, a creative leader at Arnold, DDB and Wieden & Kennedy, shares his remembrances of Bryant as a collaborator. “As a creative mind, he wanted to inspire in new ways that he hadn’t before. He was all about inspiration. He was in absolute love with those who inspired him to become who he was, and he wanted to share that with the world.” Read Doria’s full tribute here.
Now that Super Bowl advertisers are previewing their commercials, the teasers are beginning to fall into place. Those of you who guessed that Hyundai’s teaser, featuring actors with thick Boston accents, had something to do with pahking a cah were correct. The commercial from Innocean features John Krasinski backing into a tight space using the vehicle’s Remote Parking Assist (or, “smaht pahk” as it is called in the spot) while “Saturday Night Live’s” Rachel Dratch, actor Chris Evans and Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz look on. It’s a clever device for the brand to repeat the phrase without wearing it out. “It’s a common construct for [Super Bowl] commercials to avoid the product for 45 seconds, then slip in a mention,” says Innocean Executive Creative Director Barney Goldberg. “We took the opposite approach and feel the ad is stronger—and funnier—for it.” For those of you who want to play along, here are instructions from the New England Historical Society about how to speak like a Bostonian.
Super Bowl advertisers spending an average of $5.6 million for 30-seconds of time in this year’s game may want to skip this item and move on. Go ahead, we’ll wait. Old Spice, whose famed “Man your man can smell like” campaign turns 10 this year, tells Jack Neff the inside story of that first commercial featuring Isaiah Mustafa. Memories vary—some say it was intended for the Super Bowl, others aren’t so sure—but this is certain: the spot never actually made it into the game, yet won it anyway. It also made the careers of the Wieden & Kennedy and Procter & Gamble executives behind it, not to mention Mustafa himself. Moreover, the spot topped lists of favorite Super Bowl ads when it aired a decade ago for a game the brand didn’t even advertise in. “We didn’t pay $5 million for it, and we laughed about that,” says a P&G exec. Read the full story here (subscribers only).
The first work is out for McDonald’s from Wieden & Kennedy, whose New York office won that business last year—a particular feat since its Portland, Oregon office handles KFC. Rather than a lot of bells and whistles, the focus in the initial ads is squarely on the food, delving into the ingredients of a Quarter Pounder and a side of fries. We’ll let Jessica Wohl take it from here: “While close-ups of burgers are nothing new in fast-food advertising, these spots suggest McDonald's is using a fresh take on the tried-and-true method. Along with Instagram-worthy close-ups, the quick commercials feature voiceover work by Brian Cox, known to many as Logan Roy on HBO’s ‘Succession.’” Then comes the tagline: “It’s perfect, made perfecter.”
But wait, there's more: Bojangles is claiming that Mickey D’s recycled its idea with the use of the word “perfecter” or—in Bojangles’ case—“perfect-er.” That’s how that chain described adding pimento cheese to its chicken biscuit sandwich last summer. Which is perfecter? (Or is it perfectest?) Watch the Bojangles spot here.
This week’s Campaign Ad Scorecard takes a look at Michael Bloomberg’s ad spending for the current presidential campaign and finds that “according to the latest Ad Age Datacenter analysis of campaign ad spending in partnership with Kantar/CMAG, Bloomberg’s outlay has hit $246 million to date—primarily on TV ads but also including radio and $28 million in combined Facebook and Google (and related properties) spending.” That puts Bloomberg’s outlay at nearly nine times that of Senator Bernie Sanders ($27 million); almost five times that of Donald Trump ($52 million); and well above the No. 2 spender Tom Steyer ($152 million). Simon Dumenco and Kevin Brown compare Bloomberg to the great white shark in “Jaws,” a massive predator hellbent on destroying his Republican enemy. “Bloomberg’s ad spending seems to be more about being a forceful and persistent anti-Trump avatar, and he’s already thinking about what he’s willing to burn through to back the ultimate nominee whose job it will be to actually beat Trump,” they write. Paging Richard Dreyfuss, who slayed the shark in the film and does not appear to be a Trump supporter.
That's what friends are for: What do you do when the star of your Super Bowl commercial leaks some of it on social media? Roll with it. That’s what Facebook did when Sylvester Stallone posted some footage of himself on the staircase leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Rocky” style. “We decided to jump in and leverage the conversation,” says Facebook Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio, who maintains the leak was unintentional.
Home sweet home: Quicken Loans’ Big Game ad features “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa in a spot called “Comfortable,” that shows Momoa in various situations at home. Casey Hurbis, chief marketing officer, tells Adrianne Pasquarelli, “It’s always fun to see what somebody is like when they’re at home.” In Momoa’s case, all we know about what he does there is that it involves a mirror and a hairbrush.
A bigger byte: Byte, a new video-sharing app that is a reboot of Vine, released Friday to compete with ByteDanceTikTok and has rocketed to the top of Apple’s U.S. App Store, Bloomberg reports.
A royal flush: A toilet from Frank Sinatra’s suite at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City N.J. sold at auction for $4,250 this weekend, says CNN. The throne had a gold seat and is made of Italian marble. What does this have to do with marketing? Nothing, but we couldn’t resist.
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