Celebrity in Super Bowl LI

It’s a Popularity Contest

Popularity Contest

The use of celebrity is usually some type of popularity contest. Referencing the USA Today Admeter results, celebrities were involved in 50% of the Top 12 most popular Super Bowl spots.

#1 Kia – Hero’s Journey with Melissa McCarthy

This spot has great alignment between the celebrity, entertainment value and message. It builds to a fun crescendo and then delivers a strong payoff culminating in the statement, “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior but it is easy to drive like one!” Note that McCarthy is not known for any strong environmental stance. In this instance, she brought the celebrity and entertainment value, the spot told the eco-warrior story.

#2 Honda – Yearbook with…

Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Steve Carell, Missy Elliot, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel, and Viola Davis

This spot used a very cool yearbook effect to showcase (and identify) these celebrities as they talk about chasing their dreams. Very inspirational as the storyline builds and you have no idea what the product is...I’ll share more about this spot in an upcoming edition of Hot Marketing Tips as it is my winner of the Cream Horn Award for 2017.

#5 Tide – #BradshawStain with…

Terry Bradshaw, Jeffrey Tambor, Curt Menefee, Gronk

The Super Bowl audience obviously found Bradshaw’s journey to remove the stain from his white shirt quite entertaining. And it is, but I found it weak when considering any kind of “point of difference” message. Isn’t removing stains what detergent is supposed to do? Business owners would be wise to make sure any entertaining message highlights your uniqueness, not a common denominator.

#7 Buick – Pee Wee Football with…

Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr

As a pee wee football player suddenly turns into Cam Newton, the mini-players are stunned and awed by Newton. Unfortunately, I think Buick got the same result. This spot is much more memorable for Newton pushing away 10-year-old tacklers than it is for the new Buick brand. Twitter response was immediate, fairly humorous and unforgiving…




One of the dangers of using celebrities to front your brand is that they can also outshine your brand, too.

#11 Mercedes AMG – Easy Driver with Peter Fonda

Best Targeting of a Niche Audience

I admit it. I’m over 50. OK, closer to 60. And I am the target audience for this Mercedes commercial. Anyone younger than me will not connect aging motorcyclists, Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild with Route 66, 45’s, Bic lighters, Easy Rider (a movie), Peter Fonda and peace signs. It harkens back to a time of rebellion and coolness…and Peter Fonda exudes coolness and lays it all over the Mercedes AMG Roadster. I want one. All done in just 30 seconds. Impressive.

#12 Bai – Jentlemen with…

Christopher Walken, Justin Timberlake

It is a simple formula. Christopher Walken garners most people’s attention. He says bizarre things like repeating NSYNC lyrics and thereby teaching the American viewer the correct pronunciation of Bai. Justin Timberlake says nothing but adds the cool factor. Business owners should realize that “cool factor” is a very expensive investment with celebrities. Not likely duplicated in the small market.

Lesson for Business Owners

Find a local or regional celebrity favorite. The bigger their footprint, the more they cost. Many local celebrities (especially athletes) have non-profits. Collaborate to create a win-win-win between the celeb, their non-profit and your business. An excellent example of this strategy occurred between SonLight Power and Giovanni Bernard (a Cincinnati Bengal) in Haiti.

Double Duty

Which celebrity is featured in spots from two different brands?
That would be Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots who made cameo appearances in the Tide Spot offering his shirt to Terry Bradshaw and the T-Mobile spot with Justin Bieber where Gronk was the caveman.

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