Puppymonkeybaby, chip-craving fetus stand out in tame Super Bowl ad lineup

Mon Feb 8, 2016 4:06pm EST
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By Anjali Athavaley and Lisa Richwine

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Advertisers played it safe and light with the most expensive ever Super Bowl ad slots on Sunday, shunning previous years' attempts to be outrageous, emotional or thought-provoking.

Mountain Dew rolled out a creature made from a puppy, a monkey and a baby while Doritos had a fetus on ultrasound reaching for a chip, in two of the most unusual spots.

The commercial which drew the most tweets was shown by Allstate Corp's Esurance unit before the game, promising viewers a chance to win $250,000 if they tweeted. More than 2 million had done so as of late Sunday night.

The low-risk approach may have been a reaction to last year, when Nationwide Mutual Insurance drew heat for featuring a dead boy speaking to viewers in an ad about child safety.

“Brands played it safe, using a lot of levity and humor,” said Derek Rucker, professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “We didn't see too many emotional or too many deep ads. Most of them played it really safe, really light-hearted," he said, noting the contrast to Nationwide's 2015 spot.

PepsiCo Inc, which owns the Doritos and Mountain Dew brands, went furthest into the strange. Doritos ads inspired 238,770 tweets during the game, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence, a marketing technology company. About 47 percent were positive mentions, the highest among the most-tweeted-about ads, Amobee said.

The Mountain Dew spot, which launched the hashtag #puppymonkeybaby online, generated more than 68,000 tweets during the game. But it came across as “weird,” said Jim Joseph, chief integrated marketing officer at communications and public relations agency Cohn & Wolfe.

Esurance, which opted for a spot before kickoff, drew 835,101 tweets during the game by offering those who retweeted the hashtag #EsuranceSweepstakes a chance to win the big money prize.   Continued...

A U.S. military helicopter flies over Levi's Stadium before NFL Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, United States, February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson