If viewers were surprised in 2014 when WeatherTech used the Super Bowl to promote automotive floor mats ("You Can't Do That"), they should look back nearly 30 years for an equally unlikely big-game player: Durakon Industries' Duraline truck-bed liners. 1986 was an odd year for auto advertising in the Super Bowl, Jim Berline, chairman of the Berline Group agency in Royal Oak, Mich., recalled in 2015. As rising ad costs helped keep the Big Three automakers out, Durakon became "the only Michigan company that did commit to the Super Bowl,” he said.
Berline was then a four-year-old shop with a few million dollars in bookings; Durakon’s marketing budget was only a bit above $1 million for the whole year. (For a similar gamble, see Loctite’s 2015 Super Bowl debut, "Positive Feelings".) “We mentioned to the client in a strategy meeting that Wang Computers had used the pre-game of the Super Bowl to run spots to generate brand awareness,” Berline said. “This strategy resonated with Mike Wayne, the CEO of Durakon, and he authorized Berline to commit to a minute in the game and to begin developing a creative concept that would be Super Bowl worthy. This decision was made literally three weeks before the game and Durakon had never advertised on TV before … even at a local level.”
“Without the benefit of any creative concept testing, multiple ideas were developed and presented within days of the decision,” Berline said. “The selected spot was unanimously chosen and production planning and scheduling began. Also, because the spot was a product demonstration, it required network approval a week before the game. So, the entire time frame from decision to creative development thru production was two weeks.”
The story of this small company advertising on TV’s costliest stage became a media story in its own right, yielding more than $10 million in PR value alone, according to Berline, who noted that the spot ran twice in the game. In a foreshadowing of the pre-release strategy that would become standard in the 2000s, the spot appeared on the CBS Evening News before the game as a media story. “The per share cost of Durakon stock increased over $8 during the week leading up to the game,” Berline said. Durakon manufacturers liked the strategy. Auto dealerships got support stimulating Duraliner sales. “A post Super Bowl brand awareness survey indicated we had achieved over 60% in unaided brand awareness and over 75% in aided brand awareness,” Berline said. “CBS Evening News ran the spot again free prior to the 1987 Super Bowl when they did a story on the success of the spots in the previous year's game.”
AGENCY: Berline Group