Marketing & Sponsorships

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Crowd-Funded Super Bowl Commercials?

19 Jan, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Why Not? We’ve Seen Cat Herding, Haven’t We?

Never say Super Bowl commercial writers can’t spot a trend – and try to sell it.  Or rather, upsell it, and on the biggest party day of the year.

Having variously skewered, highlighted, praised, lampooned, roasted and paid tribute to everything pop culture can offer, there’s only one thing left for Super Bowl commercials to latch onto.

Crowdfunding.

The new darling of the social media world is ready to give rise to the first joint-venture beer commercial, and it’s set to debut on the country’s biggest stage on Sunday, February 1.

According to an online article on Time Magazine’s site, Newcastle Brown Ale is claiming the cost of airtime is so expensive that they want “to use the sharing economy to get brands together and go in on a commercial with them.

The commercial shows Aubrey Plaza from “Parks and Rec” doing Super Bowl commercial-y things like petting a cute dog and doing some farming. In a voiceover, Newcastle asks for help to raise the almost $4.5 million it costs for 30 seconds of airtime and offers screen space to any brands that want to participate.”

Oh, yeah. We’ve now officially seen everything.

But Time’s writers are still impressed, noting:

“Whatever your opinion of Newcastle beer might be, their attitude toward Super Bowl advertising the last couple years has been spot-on. Last year’s viral spot featuring Anna Kendrick made great use of the fact that no one is even allowed to use the words Super Bowl unless they are willing to pay the massive fees. “

Will it work? No telling. But on the stage where this campaign will play out – the one that hosted promotions involving a love story with one of the Budweiser Clydesdales, 1980s icons invading Radio Shack and a posse of cowboys herding housecats, it’s about to face its biggest test.

It isn’t the first time interaction has been promoted to bump up interest in commercials. After all, an ad aired during the Super Bowl in 2013 featured a mirage-like race in the desert and invited viewers to vote on social media to help determine how the race should end (with the winning ending being shown later in the Super Bowl broadcast). In 2002, a Pepsi commercial featuring Britney Spears allowed viewers to call in and vote on which segment of her multi-act performance should be played a second time in a later commercial segment.

But none of these has involved competing brands or products. This commercial is the first to encourage co-op advertising. And it’s a commercial for beer, for goodness sake – the Super Bowl beverage of choice. (Trivia point: the equivalent of 493 Olympic-size swimming pools full of beer is consumed during the game).

Certainly, the campaign has all the symptoms of being real. Heineken, which owns Newcastle, said they are currently looking for partners to share ads with during the game and fully plan to make and air them in local markets if the interest is there.

If it’s a hoax, it’s a well-planned one. And if it’s real – well, the next Super Bowl commercials can consider the bar set.

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