The 2008 Super Bowl is just days away. After months of build-up, the teams will finally take to the field, and perhaps more importantly, the advertising will finally run. The big event is at hand.
What follows is a viewer’s guide to the 2009 Super Bowl advertising: a list of things to watch for as the game unfolds.
1. Overall: The big issue this year is the recession/depression/meltdown. Will the advertising creative reflect this? Or will we see the usual mix of jokes and gags and over-the-top production? Watch for how advertisers address the difficult economic climate. This is a big challenge this year; great advertising connects with people, and people are certainly concerned about the economy and the future right now.
2. The first spots: The most valuable advertising slot in the Super Bowl, and in some ways the most valuable advertising moment in the world, is the first ad that runs after the opening kick-off. Anheuser-Busch will run their best spot at this moment; this should be the spot that finishes at the top of the popularity charts. Does the spot measure up? Who gets the second spot?
3. Pepsi: The first half will be all about Pepsi. Watch for several spots from PepsiCo, including advertisements for Pepsi, Gatorade and Doritos. Last year PepsiCo ran some very strange advertising on the Super Bowl. Will they nail it this year?
4. The second quarter 3-D extravaganza: Be sure to locate your 3-D glasses for the second quarter 3-D ads. Do the ads really pop, in all senses of the word? Watch if anyone else at your party has the 3-D glasses. One of the big challenges for this idea was execution, simply getting the glasses distributed. How well did the advertisers do?
5. E-Trade: Last year E-Trade nailed it with two terrific spots featuring the talking baby. Is the baby back? Is he as funny and as on message? I suspect these will be some of the best spots to run this year. They certainly were last year.
6. Coke: In the second half Coke takes the field. Will Coke deliver? Last year Coke ran two great commercials. This year they have a new campaign, but with a similar message. Who wins the Pepsi vs. Coke battle?
7. The great job site battle: Monster and CareerBuilder go head to head in this year’s Super Bowl. CareerBuilder ran two rather polarizing and generally disliked spots last year. Will they deliver this year? How does Monster respond? Do they differentiate? Or do they promise the same thing?
8. Pedigree: I believe this is the first time a pet food brand has advertised on the Super Bowl. Does Pedigree fit in with the beer and the chips? The big question for Pedigree: will this spot actually drive significant incremental business? If so, how precisely will that work?
9. Denny’s: Denny’s is apparently rolling out an exciting new offer during the Super Bowl. What is it? Does it make sense? Look for this spot to generate a lot of talk value; Denny’s may be one of the strongest advertisers this year despite being new to the event.
10. Cars: There are three auto industry advertisers to watch, each with significant challenges. Can Hyundai credibly claim that a Hyundai is like a BMW? Will Audi follow-up last year’s arresting spot with another striking execution? And how will Cars.com position itself given that there aren’t many people buying cars at all right now?
All in all look for this to be another dynamic year for Super Bowl advertising, recession and all. I predict there will be some great spots that really stand out, and many spots that are very respectable. And there will be a few that really miss the mark; there always are.
– Tim Calkins