Super Bowl advertisers tread carefully in divisive climate


By MAE ANDERSON - AP Business Writer



This photo provided by Kia Motors America shows a scene from the company's spot for Super Bowl 51, between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Melissa McCarthy humorously takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect, in Kia’s 60-second third-quarter ad to promote the fuel efficiency of its 2017 Niro crossover. (Kia Motors America via AP)


This photo provided by Lexus shows a still from the company's "Man and Machine" Super Bowl 51 spot. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Lexus via AP)


This photo provided by Wix shows a still from the company's first Super Bowl 51 spot featuring Gal Gardot and Jason Statham. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Wix via AP)


10 Super Bowl ads to watch: Sexy Mr. Clean; John Malkovich

NEW YORK (AP) — The Super Bowl isn’t just played on the field. Just as intense is a battle off the field to win viewers’ attentions.

Advertisers are paying $5 million for just 30 seconds to reach the more than 110 million people in the U.S. expected to tune in. Which ads will be the most talked about? Which ads will be the most remembered years from now, long after the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots square off?

Here are 10 Super Bowl ads to watch during Sunday’s broadcast on Fox.

___

84 Lumber, “The Journey Begins “

First-time Super Bowl advertiser 84 Lumber seems to wade into political territory with a 90-second spot that shows a Mexican woman and her daughter traveling across Mexico on foot. The daughter collects pieces of fabric along the way. The ad appears in the first half — without the conclusion. The ending will be shown online at halftime at http://journey84.com .

___

Bud Light, “Ghost Spuds “

Bud Light is bringing back its iconic 1980s mascot, Spuds Mackenzie, sort of. The dog appears as an unsettling T-shirted ghost. The dog eggs on a Bud Light drinker to go out and join his friends rather than sit at home alone. It’s the 30th anniversary of the bull terrier’s first appearance in a Bud Light ad. The 90-second ad is running during the fourth quarter.

___

Budweiser, “Born the Hard Way “

Anheuser-Busch’s cinematic 60-second spot chronicles co-founder Adolphus Busch’s journey from Germany to St. Louis in 1857. He jumps off a burning steamboat and catches a glimpse of Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales mascots before meeting fellow immigrant Eberhard Anheuser.

The second-quarter ad became topical since it was released online Tuesday, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily ban refugees and nearly all citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Anheuser-Busch, which started working on the ad in May, says the ad isn’t making a political statement.

___

Honda, “Yearbooks “

To promote Honda’s CR-V vehicle, a 60-second second-quarter ad features high-school yearbook photos for nine celebrities — Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Robert Redford. The photos come to life and encourage people to follow their dreams, a nod to Honda’s 15-year slogan “The Power of Dreams.”

The photos are actual yearbook photos, but the yearbook page surrounding them were created by the agency RPA, Honda says. Some lines were ad-libbed during filming rather than scripted. For example, Carell came up with the name “Darryl” next to him.

___

Hyundai, “Operation Better”

Hyundai enlisted director Peter Berg (“Deepwater Horizon”) to shoot and edit a 90-second ad during the game itself. It will air directly after the game. Teasers hint of footage from both at the Super Bowl and elsewhere.

___

Mercedes-Benz, “Easy Driver “

It’s been a long time since 1969’s “Easy Rider” brought the counterculture to the big screen.

To target baby boomers, Mercedes-Benz enlisted the Coen brothers to direct an update to the tune of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Bikers at a bar are furious that their bikes have been blocked by a car — until they realize it’s Peter Fonda driving a Mercedes-Benz AMG Roadster. The 30-second ad is scheduled for the fourth quarter.

___

Kia, “Hero’s Journey “

Melissa McCarthy humorously takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect. Kia’s 60-second third-quarter ad promotes the fuel efficiency of its 2017 Niro car.

___

Mr. Clean, “Cleaner of Your Dreams “

P&G takes an unusual approach to promoting the kitchen cleaner, as the animated character Mr. Clean, introduced in 1958, gets some sex appeal. In the 30-second third-quarter ad, a woman in her kitchen gets distracted watching an animated Mr. Clean in tight white pants dance around her kitchen as he cleans.

___

Snicker’s live ad

Mars’ Snickers brand is attempting a 30-second live ad during the first break in the third quarter. The ad features Adam Driver and a wild-west theme. Leading to the game, Snickers has a live stream at snickerslive.com with views and other content from the ad’s set.

Snickers says it’s doing plenty of rehearsals and turning to multiple satellite feeds to make sure the ad goes off without a hitch.

___

Squarespace, “Calling John Malkovich “

Squarespace’s 30-second ad slated for the first half shows a prickly John Malkovich calling the owner of JohnMalkovich.com to yell at him because he wants the domain.

NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl advertisers are treading carefully this year to avoid alienating customers as a divisive political climate takes some of the buzz away from what is usually the biggest spectacle on TV.

Ad critic Barbara Lippert says that while “people need an escape,” like the Super Bowl, this year’s matchup on the field feels “so much less important than what’s going on politically.”

To get the attention back, some advertisers are turning to nostalgia, celebrities and marketing stunts. P&G is sexing up Mr. Clean, Honda is featuring nine celebrities and Snickers is running a live ad.

Others are touching on social issues, without being too blunt about it. Budweiser won the pre-game buzz with a sweeping cinematic ad showcasing founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 immigration from Germany to St. Louis. Although it has been in the works since May , the ad felt topical, as it was released online just days after President Donald Trump’s travel ban against people from seven Muslim-majority countries. The ad got more than 8 million views on YouTube in just four days.

Although many brands released ads online ahead of time, there will still be surprises during Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast Sunday. At $5 million for a 30-second spot, and an expected U.S. audience of more than 110 million, the pressure is on.

TIPTOEING AROUND POLITICS

Audi’s spot addresses gender equality as a man muses about his daughter receiving equal pay as men one day.

Building supplies retailer 84 Lumber had to revise its original ad because a scene featuring a border wall was deemed too controversial by Fox. The new ad shows a Mexican woman and her daughter making a trip by foot across Mexico. The ad’s ending will be revealed at halftime at http://journey84.com ; the website suggests excised footage will be shown.

And Kia attempts a humorous approach. In an ad for the Niro car, Melissa McCarthy takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect. The message: “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one” with a fuel-efficient Niro.

Though advertisers are being extra careful, taking on any sort of political topic might backfire, says Mark DiMassimo, CEO of ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein. Against the backdrop of an “emboldened, enraged or traumatized audience,” he says, themes that might have been innocuous in the past “seem more strident and jarring this year.”

STUFFED WITH CELEBRITIES

In turbulent times, brands can count on celebrities to ensure goodwill among consumers.

And why use one celebrity when you can have many? In Honda’s ad , the high-school yearbook photos of Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Robert Redford come to life with special effects. The animations encourage people to follow their dreams in a nod to Honda’s longtime slogan, “The Power of Dreams.”

Website hosting company Squarespace shows an intense John Malkovich berating the owner of johnmalkovich.com domain name.

Justin Bieber shows off dance moves to tout T-Mobile cellphone offerings. For the baby boomer crowd, Mercedes-Benz shows a biker gang being amazed by Peter Fonda’s AMG GT roadster to the tune of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”

“The proliferation of athletes and more personalities is a reflection of not taking too much risk,” says Kelly O’Keefe from Virginia Commonwealth University’s advertising graduate program. “When in doubt get a personality.”

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Anheuser-Busch joins Mercedes-Benz in trying to reach consumers with nostalgia. The brewer’s ad shows a mountain man opening a can of Busch beer to the sound of “Buschhhhh.” It’s a nod to the brand’s ad campaign, introduced in 1978, which lasted for decades.

Meanwhile, Bud Light is bringing back the ghost of its 1980s spokesdog Spuds Mackenzie — literally. In its ad, the dog appears as a ghost dangling in the air, urging a Bud Light drinker to go out and join his friends, like the ghosts in the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol.”

And P&G sexes up its Mr. Clean mascot, introduced as an animated character in 1958. In the new ad , he distracts a woman as he cleans her kitchen.

“Emotions are the secret sauce of getting people to do things, and nostalgia is a great reason for people to pay attention,” says Devra Prywes of video analytics firm Unruly.

HERE’S TO HEALTH

After 10 years, Frito-Lay has retired its “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign for Doritos. Those ads, created by consumers, were usually filled with slapstick humor.

Taking its place? A healthier approach. PepsiCo is featuring its new bottled water called LifeWTR and its sugar-free soft drink, Pepsi Zero Sugar. Bai Brands investor Justin Timberlake helps promote the company’s antioxidant-infused drinks. And one of Wonderful Co.’s 15-second ads promotes the health benefits of its pistachios.

Avocados from Mexico is focusing on its “healthy fats” in a humorous ad showing a secret society subliminally influenced by Jon Lovitz to chow down on guacamole.

SURPRISES

The biggest buzz may come from what hasn’t been revealed ahead of time.

Snickers’ ad with Adam Driver and a “Wild West” theme will be performed live during the third quarter.

Hyundai tapped “Deepwater Horizon” director Peter Berg to shoot an ad during the game itself for airing right after the game ends.

Chrysler, long known for its surprise two-minute ads starring celebrities like Eminem and Clint Eastwood, won’t even say whether it’s advertising this year. Coca-Cola says it bought two spots, but it’s keeping the topic a mystery.

“Ultimately, the advertiser who gives us sweet relief without that aftertaste is going to win,” DiMassimo says. “Something simple, delightful and cheerful.”

This photo provided by Kia Motors America shows a scene from the company’s spot for Super Bowl 51, between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Melissa McCarthy humorously takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect, in Kia’s 60-second third-quarter ad to promote the fuel efficiency of its 2017 Niro crossover. (Kia Motors America via AP)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/02/web1_114862275-a77ae1a6cda44944965050727cbbc1b8.jpgThis photo provided by Kia Motors America shows a scene from the company’s spot for Super Bowl 51, between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Melissa McCarthy humorously takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect, in Kia’s 60-second third-quarter ad to promote the fuel efficiency of its 2017 Niro crossover. (Kia Motors America via AP)

This photo provided by Lexus shows a still from the company’s "Man and Machine" Super Bowl 51 spot. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Lexus via AP)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/02/web1_114862275-fce35cb4875549458454738c359f8b85.jpgThis photo provided by Lexus shows a still from the company’s "Man and Machine" Super Bowl 51 spot. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Lexus via AP)

This photo provided by Wix shows a still from the company’s first Super Bowl 51 spot featuring Gal Gardot and Jason Statham. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Wix via AP)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/02/web1_114862275-7193a5be34fa4c8da17322891d5a1c97.jpgThis photo provided by Wix shows a still from the company’s first Super Bowl 51 spot featuring Gal Gardot and Jason Statham. The New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (Wix via AP)

By MAE ANDERSON

AP Business Writer

10 Super Bowl ads to watch: Sexy Mr. Clean; John Malkovich

NEW YORK (AP) — The Super Bowl isn’t just played on the field. Just as intense is a battle off the field to win viewers’ attentions.

Advertisers are paying $5 million for just 30 seconds to reach the more than 110 million people in the U.S. expected to tune in. Which ads will be the most talked about? Which ads will be the most remembered years from now, long after the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots square off?

Here are 10 Super Bowl ads to watch during Sunday’s broadcast on Fox.

___

84 Lumber, “The Journey Begins “

First-time Super Bowl advertiser 84 Lumber seems to wade into political territory with a 90-second spot that shows a Mexican woman and her daughter traveling across Mexico on foot. The daughter collects pieces of fabric along the way. The ad appears in the first half — without the conclusion. The ending will be shown online at halftime at http://journey84.com .

___

Bud Light, “Ghost Spuds “

Bud Light is bringing back its iconic 1980s mascot, Spuds Mackenzie, sort of. The dog appears as an unsettling T-shirted ghost. The dog eggs on a Bud Light drinker to go out and join his friends rather than sit at home alone. It’s the 30th anniversary of the bull terrier’s first appearance in a Bud Light ad. The 90-second ad is running during the fourth quarter.

___

Budweiser, “Born the Hard Way “

Anheuser-Busch’s cinematic 60-second spot chronicles co-founder Adolphus Busch’s journey from Germany to St. Louis in 1857. He jumps off a burning steamboat and catches a glimpse of Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales mascots before meeting fellow immigrant Eberhard Anheuser.

The second-quarter ad became topical since it was released online Tuesday, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to temporarily ban refugees and nearly all citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Anheuser-Busch, which started working on the ad in May, says the ad isn’t making a political statement.

___

Honda, “Yearbooks “

To promote Honda’s CR-V vehicle, a 60-second second-quarter ad features high-school yearbook photos for nine celebrities — Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Robert Redford. The photos come to life and encourage people to follow their dreams, a nod to Honda’s 15-year slogan “The Power of Dreams.”

The photos are actual yearbook photos, but the yearbook page surrounding them were created by the agency RPA, Honda says. Some lines were ad-libbed during filming rather than scripted. For example, Carell came up with the name “Darryl” next to him.

___

Hyundai, “Operation Better”

Hyundai enlisted director Peter Berg (“Deepwater Horizon”) to shoot and edit a 90-second ad during the game itself. It will air directly after the game. Teasers hint of footage from both at the Super Bowl and elsewhere.

___

Mercedes-Benz, “Easy Driver “

It’s been a long time since 1969’s “Easy Rider” brought the counterculture to the big screen.

To target baby boomers, Mercedes-Benz enlisted the Coen brothers to direct an update to the tune of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Bikers at a bar are furious that their bikes have been blocked by a car — until they realize it’s Peter Fonda driving a Mercedes-Benz AMG Roadster. The 30-second ad is scheduled for the fourth quarter.

___

Kia, “Hero’s Journey “

Melissa McCarthy humorously takes on political causes like saving whales, ice caps and trees, each time to disastrous effect. Kia’s 60-second third-quarter ad promotes the fuel efficiency of its 2017 Niro car.

___

Mr. Clean, “Cleaner of Your Dreams “

P&G takes an unusual approach to promoting the kitchen cleaner, as the animated character Mr. Clean, introduced in 1958, gets some sex appeal. In the 30-second third-quarter ad, a woman in her kitchen gets distracted watching an animated Mr. Clean in tight white pants dance around her kitchen as he cleans.

___

Snicker’s live ad

Mars’ Snickers brand is attempting a 30-second live ad during the first break in the third quarter. The ad features Adam Driver and a wild-west theme. Leading to the game, Snickers has a live stream at snickerslive.com with views and other content from the ad’s set.

Snickers says it’s doing plenty of rehearsals and turning to multiple satellite feeds to make sure the ad goes off without a hitch.

___

Squarespace, “Calling John Malkovich “

Squarespace’s 30-second ad slated for the first half shows a prickly John Malkovich calling the owner of JohnMalkovich.com to yell at him because he wants the domain.

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