The Super Bowl advertisement by Hyundai Motor Group’s Kia. In the advertisment, Kia invents a fanciful way that babies are made, blasting in from a baby planet in its “Space babies” ad for the 2014 Sorento crossover.
NEW YORK — Super Bowl ads this year morphed into mini soap operas.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shrugged off aliens so he could get more milk for his kids in a Super Bowl spot for the Milk Processor Education Program. Anheuser-Busch’s commercial told the story of a Clydesdale colt growing up and returning to his owner for a heartfelt hug years later. And a Jeep ad portrayed the trials and triumphs of people waiting for the return of their family members.
The reason for all the drama off the field? With 30-second spots going for as much as $4 million and more than 111 million viewers expected to tune in, marketers are constantly looking for ways to make their ads stand out. And it’s increasingly difficult to captivate viewers with short-form plots involving babies, celebrities, sex and humor — unless there’s a compelling story attached.
Tear-jerking mini epics
Chrysler started the long-format commercial trend last year, with a two-minute spot starring Clint Eastwood that became very popular.
This year, Chrysler led the trend again with its two-minute salute to troops and their families. The ad featured Oprah Winfrey reading a letter from the Jeep brand to encourage families to stay hopeful.
Anheuser-Busch also pulled at heartstrings with a spot about a Clydesdale colt growing up and moving away from his farm and his trainer who raised him from birth. Years later, the trainer drives to Chicago to see the horse in a parade. The horse spots his trainer and gallops toward him, nuzzling him fondly as the trainer hugs him.
Lincoln’s 90-second ad was inspired by tweets by fans about road trips. The company asked people to send their stories, and Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” decided on which tales would be used.
The ad, which was based on more than 6,000 tweets from fans, shows adventures during a fictional road trip. A woman picks up a German hitchhiker, and they go to an alpaca farm, get stopped by turtles crossing the road, and drive through a movie set.
Comedy goes long
Samsung’s two-minute ad showed Seth Rogen (“The Guilt Trip”) and Paul Rudd (“Role Models”) getting called in to do a “Next Big Thing” ad for Samsung. But they’re agitated once they realize that they’re sharing the spotlight. LeBron James, an NBA basketball player for the Miami Heat, makes a cameo, appearing on the screen of a tablet.
Budweiser, a long-time Super Bowl advertiser, also told a continuing story in two of its ads. One showed rival 49ers and Ravens fans each creating a voodoo doll for the other team with the help of R&B legend Stevie Wonder. In the other ad, fans go to great lengths to curse a rival fan’s “lucky chair.”
“It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,” the words in the ad read.
Not all ads tells a story
Although many advertisers tried to pull people in with lengthy story lines, there were a few that stuck with short, quirky spots with no particular plot.
GoDaddy.com’s ad was one of them. It showed a close up, extended kiss between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a nerdy guy wearing glasses to illustrate GoDaddy’s combo of “sexy” and “smart.”
Some viewers thought the ad was too explicit for the Super Bowl.
“I don’t care who wins the game. I just don’t want to see that commercial again, ever,” said Stephen G. Smith, 63, an editor at The Washington Times in Washington, D.C.
Stephanie Malone from DeKalb, Ill., agreed: “GoDaddy should be ashamed.”
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