Proactiv - Towel Drop

February 05, 2017 | :30

Olivia Munn stars in Proactiv's first Super Bowl ad, surprising a teenage boy in his bathroom to give acne-fighting advice.

The internally-created ad was notable in a couple of ways, starting with its presence in the Super Bowl itself, a much, much larger stage than the reaches of smaller, more targeted cable buys where Proactiv typically made its direct-response pitches. The creative also aimed to polish the Proactiv brand more than generate sales RIGHT NOW through a call to action online or by phone, its standard means of attack. Both changes were part of a broader shift at Proactiv to mix broader-reach buys and more storytelling in with its more direct come-ons in niche cable time.

Despite that strategic adjustment, Proactiv's ad wouldn't have run in the game if it weren't for its uprecedented overtime period. Overtime passed quickly, with only nine plays required for the Patriots to finish off the Falcons, so Fox only had the chance to run four commercials. Two were reprises of earlier ads: Hulu's trailer for "The Handmaid's Tale" and Sprint's "Car." But two were new: Olivia Munn's Proactiv ad and a 30-second spot for SoFi ("Together").

If the first overtime in Super Bowl history was unexpected, Proactiv claimed afterward that it saw it coming the whole time. "Proactiv strategically planned to air its branded spot during OT, as they knew it was going to be a close game, and it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase a more brand-focused approach vs. the traditional direct-marketing approach that's historically been the company's focus," a spokeswoman told Ad Age in an email, adding that the overtime option cost less than an ad during regulation would have. Icon Media Direct handled the buy. 

The four overtime spots were still good for $16 million to $20 million in bonus cash for Fox on top of what was already a $400 million-plus night.

By comparison, at an average rate of $4.5 million per 30-second spot, NBC in 2015 booked $376 million in Super Bowl XLIX ad revenue. CBS, which did not break out its financials for Super Bowl 50, took in around $4.8 million per spot a year ago. Fox's going rate for Super Bowl LI was about $5 million for every 30 seconds.

The 30-second Proactiv spot was cut from a 60-second version that had been running elsewhere in recent months, making it one of an unusually large group of Super Bowl ads that weren't new on game day. A bilingual version also aired on Fox Deportes during overtime. 

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  • BrandProactiv
  • Year2017
  • Agencyinternal
  • Superbowl #LI
  • Quarter airedovertime