Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl 45, Brought To You By....

Branded content.. Yep, branded content.

That's what you witnessed if you were watching the 45th Super Bowl. And if weren't watching, just exactly what were you doing?

This year's Super Bowl programming was markedly different to last year's, for a number of reasons.

The programming was truly an all-inclusive, inspiring, and uplifting affair. As a relative newcomer to the joys of NFL, I can't compare many previous games. But I can compare the last two.

And this year won hands down.

I started watching the pre-game programming around 1pm, to get "in the mood," accompanied by a light libation (or two) and a bowl of chili…

Good start.

What struck me first was the quality of ads that were targeting viewers like me: newbies, women and non-hardcore fans.

So far, so good.

And then came the Ritz part. Guy Fieri, host of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on The Food Network, grilling some sinfully calorific treats, served up by Super Bowl 45 sponsor, Ritz Crackers, at lunchtime just when stomachs were growling.

I couldn’t find the actual segment online, but I did find Guy’s Super Bowl recipe spot on CBS – you can watch it on YouTube here.

Very clever indeed. From a PR perspective, branded content like the Ritz segment is where advertising dollars and consumer engagement are heading this year. Consumers have had it with cheesy ads (pun intended!) and brands get it: instead they are developing "branded" content - the type of which we experienced last night - to engage them and keep them riveted, and, importantly, talking about these brands by the watercooler today, and tomorrow.

According to the blog, “the idea is to listen to online conversations and establish what interests your community. Is there a need for certain information? Can you creatively provide that info in an engaging way? Storytelling in articles, with images and video, is one of the best ways to produce branded content. And that’s a PR skill.”

And then there were the ads, which were dominated by car spots. Some have called it “The Auto Bowl,” because of prevalence of car ads.


Doritos - I loved these. The fingersucking and trouser-sniffing scenes were really out there!

Optima - like a mini movie-trailer in a 15 second spot Groupon and Living Social tie even place BMW - Ch-ch-changes VW Passat and Darth Vader Jr.


GM does Facebook

4G with Ossie & Bieber

Stella Artois (and I'm not just saying that because Adrian Brody made me cry as well)

Chrysler, Eminem and Detroit - what a great story (and redemption for the dreadful Brisk ad - see below)


Coca Cola


NCL - why did you bother?

Motorola's Xoom
- better luck next time



Mazda – instead of zoom, zoom, zoom, this was yawn, yawn, yawn



Anything by GoDaddy


Skechers w Kim Kardashian

I probably missed a few during drink breaks, but you can see all the ad again at

Now, about the half-time show by The Black-Eyed Peas... I'm no music critic, but I know what offends my ears and offend they did on a big a scale. Visually, aurally, their performance was a Texas-sized production but an abysmal spectacle that was a mash-up of 90's songs I'd rather forget, and the most overplayed tracks from the past year or so.

You know you're not impressed by the half time show when you're pining for the next set of commercials. Even Fergie's voice couldn't stop me from getting up for another round of drinks.

But what mustn't be overlooked in all the Super Bowl hyperbole, mega-bucks advertising and TV escapism is the Obama/O'Reilly pre-game interview. Obama, clever, cool and collected as ever, gave a wonderful interview with Fox's Bill O'Reilly. While O'Reilly tried desperately to set and control the tempo, Obama stole the show, disarming his interviewer with factual, honest and on the mark responses.

Go team Obama! Never mind that my team lost.

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