Brands bet on star power to shine through ad-cluttered Super Bowl

Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:56pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine and Jennifer Saba

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Celebrity endorsements are as common during Super Bowl telecasts as pizza and chicken wings, but this year some advertisers are betting their brands will need star power more than ever to justify the $4 million they are paying on average for 30 seconds of time during the big game.

This year's contest will feature actress Scarlett Johansson seductively hawking SodaStream, a machine for making soda at home, and the "Terminator" Arnold Schwarzenegger strangely attired in a blonde wig to extol the virtues of Bud Light beer.

And Bob Dylan, who outraged fans some 10 years ago by appearing in a Victoria's Secret commercial, will star in a spot for Fiat's Chrysler, according to Billboard. Representatives for Dylan and Chrysler did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The more than 100 million people who will tune in Sunday, when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos, may make the investment pay off, Madison Avenue executives say, for an annual event that has become an advertising showcase.

And some say a celebrity may help get a commercial noticed in a sea of ads. The game, shown on 21st Century Fox's Fox broadcast network, will likely include between 48 and 49 minutes of commercials, making it the second-most cluttered Super Bowl after last year, says Jon Swallen, chief research officer of ad research firm Kantar Media.

In 2013, CBS replayed some ads after the stadium lights went out, for nearly 52 minutes of ads.

To stand out on an evening when at least seven car brands have ads, luxury carmaker Jaguar, a first-time Super Bowl advertiser, hired British actors Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong to play villains in a slickly produced minute-long spot directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper and featuring a helicopter and a jet along with the brand's new F-Type Coupe. Jaguar is a unit of India's Tata Motors.

"Companies are investing an enormous amount in celebrities and special effects as they try to break through the clutter," said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "It creates more excitement and buzz."   Continued...

A woman walks with her dog next to roman numerals for NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in Hoboken, New Jersey, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz