One of the most entertaining Super Bowl commercials of all time was a spot by EDS that ran in 2000, featuring cowboys herding cats. The ad was a wonderful take off on western films, complete with rough old cowboys and the herd fording a river. Now, I suspect the spot would have performed rather poorly in the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review for a very simple reason: it wasn’t at all clear who the advertiser was or what was being promoted. There was a clear linkage problem. Still, it was a very funny piece of film. (Can we find out who the advertiser was?)
This year’s Super Bowl will apparently feature more “cat herding.” This time, though, it is a slightly different scenario. Intel, DreamWorks Animation, NBC and Pepsi are all working together to create a blockbuster event during the Super Bowl. Getting all of these different companies coordinated and in agreement will be much like herding cats.
According to a joint press release, the companies will work together to create a 3D pod of commercials in the second quarter. One commercial will be for Pepsi’s SoBe Lifewater, and another will be a trailer for DreamWorks Animation’s film, “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Viewers are supposed to hang onto the 3D glasses in order to watch the NBC show “Chuck” on Monday evening in 3D. According to the press release, Intel has produced 125 million pairs of 3D glasses, more than enough for 1 out of every 3 people in the United States.
This is a high potential event that will command a lot of attention. If it works, people will put on their 3D glasses and wait, eagerly, for the commercials. For a marketer, this is an astonishing and wonderful scenario: millions of people eagerly waiting to see your spot.
The challenge, however, is that executing this program will be incredibly difficult. There are two obvious problems. The first problem is getting all the players to work together. Getting agreement on a piece of creative is hard enough within one company, but getting sign off across four different companies is a truly remarkable challenge.
The second problem is that executing the program has inherent logistical challenges. Distributing millions of glasses isn’t the easiest thing to do. SoBe is apparently creating 25,000 retail displays. This is good start, but only a start: if each display has 1,000 pairs (a lot), the total distributed will be 25 million. That leaves 100 million more to go.
So this looks like a high risk, high reward event. It is likely to break through, and that’s an important step in the Super Bowl. For it to really work, however, there are a lot of cats to be herded and 3D glasses to be distributed in the next few weeks.