Super Bowl

Food Brands Use Super Bowl Marketing to Tie Food to Football

Plus, Advertising Age's Annual Guide to the Ad Bowl

By Published on .

The new big-screen TV is uncrated and the invitations have been passed out. Now the big question: What should be served at next Sunday's Super Bowl party?

Here's a menu, courtesy of ads from the nation's food and drink marketers tied to the big game:

First, a lineup of snacks from the Planters Snack Zone, Nabisco & Diet Coke Super Bowl Party Central and Hershey's Super Bowl Hometown Favorites candy assortment. Don't forget pistachios, "the football nut."

For main courses "on Super Bowl Sunday, remember the Little Links," Oscar Mayer Little Smokies, and Bush's baked beans-"Kick off your Super Bowl party with us." Tackle big appetites with Butterball Turkey's Touchdown Treats or Pillsbury's Halftime Special Mushroom Cheeseburger Pizza.

Dessert? Creamy First-Down fudge from Hershey and Borden. Drinks? ReaLemon Touchdown drinks-if you haven't "filled the fridge" with Pepsi or Budweiser.

And don't forget the Milk-Bones.

"If we had our way, every Sunday would be Super Bowl Sunday-actually, every day would," said Tod MacKenzie, VP-advertising and public affairs for Frito-Lay, whose Wavy Lay's halftime show on NBC-TV's broadcast will make it the biggest Super Bowl menu item.

For food and beverage marketers, Super Bowl Sunday has ballooned into a marketing event to rival the year's biggest pig-out holidays: Fourth of July, Christmas and even Thanksgiving. This year, they're throwing recipes, coupons, TV and radio commercials, promotions, and in-store merchandising at consumers in hopes of building sales.

This year, even Nabisco Foods Group's Milk-Bones is getting into the game, suggesting pet lovers "bring home a snack for halftime."

Supermarkets, too, are rushing to advertise deli platters and snacks.

"The Fourth of July and Memorial Day are big holidays for us, but the Super Bowl is even bigger, and it's getting bigger every year," said one New England supermarket executive.

Last year, 35% of Super Bowl viewers watched the game at a party, up from 28% in 1992, according to Milwaukee-based Cramer-Krasselt's annual SuperPoll; four of five viewers say they watch in a group of at least six people.

"The Super Bowl, in our opinion, has become more than a tradition. It's a national holiday," said John Mela-med, VP-account supervisor at Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee.

And in America, of course, holidays mean food.

"This is the all-American event; you're not going to sit there without something in your hands," said Tom Pirko, head of New York-based BevMark, a food and beverage consultancy. "For marketers, usage during the game is important, having their brands associated with the pleasure of watching this game. With all the sponsors and ads, the Super Bowl's become a real showcase for American commerce."

Because most food brand marketing budgets don't allow spending $900,000 on 30 seconds of TV advertising, sideline promotions are also a cheap way of hooking up with the big game.

Nabisco Biscuit Co., a regular National Football League sponsor, has tied in with the Super Bowl for several years. But its joint Party Central promotion with Coca-Cola USA is its biggest yet, featuring moving in-store displays, a Super Bowl XXVIII commemorative pin offer and a host of point-of- purchase materials.

"This brings our promotion to the bigness level of the Super Bowl," said Josanne Pearsall, director-integrated marketing for Nabisco. "We view it as the No. 3 entertainment event of the year."

For Paramount Farms, football season is Sunkist pistachio nut sea son. In 12 markets around the U.S., the company this month began promoting pistachios as "the football nut" in its first- ever TV and radio campaign, from Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.

The first free standing insert for Sunkist pistachios will run Jan. 30

"People show up at football games with pocketfuls of pistachios, and they'll be sitting in front of the Super Bowl with big bowls, too," said Jack Gyben, VP-retail sales for Paramount. "There's such fanatical interest in football and the Super Bowl in particular that it fits beautifully for us."

These days, it seems most food marketers would agree.

Contributing to this story: Jennifer Lawrence, Emily DeNitto and Marcy Magiera.

SUPER SPOTS: Advertising Age's annual guide to the Ad Bowl

Anheuser-Busch: Nine 30-second units airing as four one-minute spots and one 30-second spot. Bud and Bud Light bottles take to the field once again for Bud Bowl VI. D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis, handles.

Pepsi-Cola Co.: Eight 30-second units, split evenly between the first and third quarters. Six units will support flagship Pepsi; two will air as :30s for Lipton Original, a ready-to-drink iced tea joint venture with Thomas J. Lipton Co. Among the Pepsi brand spots is a :30 that broke last year called "Play ground" and teams Shaquille O'Neal with a soda-gulping kid. A new :45 also �is expected, featuring supermodel Cindy Crawford; "Seinfeld's" Kramer, Michael Richards; and comedian Rodney Dangerfield. BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles Pepsi. At least one of the Lipton Original spots will be a commercial from J. Walter Thompson USA, which handles the account.

Alamo Rent A Car: Three 30-second units airing as a �90-second spot in the second quarter. A one-time-only Super Bowl spot that doesn't introduce any new campaign but is said to have "breakthrough" creative elements. By Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco.

Converse: One 30-second spot airing in the third commercial break in the first quarter. "Wizard of Oz" theme featuring Converse endorser Larry Johnson as "Grandmama" character. Campaign from Houston, Effler & Partners, Boston, introduces a new $40 million worldwide ad effort to launch the $110 BackJam shoe line.

Nike: Four 30-second units airing as two 60-second spots. Campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., features Michael Jordan and other Nike endorsers ruminating about unsung heroes of basketball, all of whom are portrayed in nostalgic footage by Mr. Jordan. SFM Media, New York, handles media.

Reebok: Three 30-second units airing as a :30 and a :60. The :60 features Reebok endorser Shaquille O'Neal singing a rap song from his new album. The spots are the last campaigns from Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., with media handled by DeWitt Media, New York.

Chrysler Corp.: Two 30-second spots airing in the first half. Spots, plus a 60-second unit in NBC's pre-game show, unveil the new Neon small car line being marketed by Dodge and Plymouth. Campaign by BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich.

Isuzu: Two 30-second spots. One airs in the first break of the third quarter, the other in the last pod of the fourth quarter. First spot is a relatively new campaign entitled "Playoff" for Isuzu's Trooper �sport-utility vehicle. The second, dubbed "Birthday Cake," is an older effort for the Rodeo sport-utility line. Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, San Francisco, handles creative; SFM Media, New York, handles media.

Frito-Lay: Three 30-second units airing as a :30 and a :60. The :30 is a one-time-only spot for Wavy Lay's potato chips. The :60 is a new spot for Doritos Tortilla Thins featuring Chevy Chase. BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Two 30-second spots, one airing in the first and the other in the second quarter. Showcases two of four new spots in a sensuous, romantically themed campaign shot in b&w by Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, San Francisco.

McDonald's: Two 30-second units airing as a :60 in the second quarter. New campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, featuring Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird. A continuation of the "Showdown" spot introduced in last year's game, in which the stars will try to top one another in a series of outrageous, trick basketball shots.

Federal Express: Two 30-second spots airing as one :60 in the fourth quarter. Fairy tale-theme spot dubbed the "Golden Package." By BBDO Worldwide, New York.

7UP: One 30-second spot airing in the second quarter. A new campaign featuring 7UP's animated "Spot." Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handles.

Master Lock: One 30-second spot. New campaign by Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee, featuring prisons, casinos and other tough places protected by Master Lock.

Goodyear: One 30-second spot. A new campaign to launch the Eagle Aquatred, a line of wet-traction tires for the luxury car market. J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, handles.

Visa USA: One 30-second spot airing during the third quarter. A new campaign for Visa Gold card described as a humorous depiction of how easy it is to obtain cash with the Visa card in emergency situations. It tweaks archrival American Express. BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles.

Movies: Four spots from undisclosed movie marketers.

For food and beverage marketers, Super Bowl Sunday is an opportunity to score big. Products ranging from baked beans to candy to crackers are tackling consumers.

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