NEW YORK – Companies hope you’ll be gabbing about their Super Bowl ads on Monday morning. But the ultimate score is if those conversations continue throughout the year.
The Super Bowl is an advertiser’s biggest stage (more than 111 million fans are expected to tune in this year). It’s also an advertiser’s biggest gamble (a 30-second spot costs $3.5 million). Marketers are willing to take the risk, though: A successful ad can generate buzz well after the game for the companies, products and people who star in them.
Here are three of the most talked-about ads from last year’s Super Bowl and what happened to the companies that created them:
• May the force be with you: Volkswagen’s ad last year had everything to grab your attention: a cute little boy, a retro theme, a funny plot.
The German automaker charmed millions of viewers with a “Star Wars” themed ad for its redesigned 2012 Passat sedan. The commercial shows a young boy in a Darth Vader costume trying unsuccessfully to use “The Force” on a doll, washer machine and even his pet dog. Finally, he thinks he’s done so when his dad uses a remote to start the Passat. The boy is shocked.
Volkswagen took a gamble by releasing the spot before the game – something most advertisers didn’t do last year. But the move paid off: The ad quickly became a viral hit on video-sharing website YouTube, with 49.4 million views since.
The ad also helped tout the new sedan. The Passat went on sale in the summer and has been a popular seller for Volkswagen in the U.S.
And the 6-year-old boy in the ad, Max Page, became a celebrity. After the ad aired, Max, who was also part of the cast of “The Young and the Restless” soap opera, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show and MSNBC.
• Imported from Detroit: While many Super Bowl ads use humor, kids or animals to tug at the heartstrings, Chrysler took an altogether different approach with its cinematic “Imported from Detroit” spot to roll out its 200 sedan.
Set to a pulsating beat from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” song, the ad shows gritty footage of the hip-hop star driving the 200 through the streets of Detroit, past city landmarks, historic homes and of course, people. The ad ended with Eminem on stage in front of a humming choir with the message: “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”
The ad, which paid homage to Detroit’s automotive history, resonated with people immediately. It tied for the third-most popular Super Bowl in a ranking by Michigan State University. Since then, the Chrysler ad has been viewed 14 million times on YouTube.
The “Imported from Detroit” slogan caught on, too. The term has become popular among Detroiters. It has been plastered on T-shirts and hats, helping Chrysler’s online store sales to more than double. And about a dozen people have started Facebook groups using the tagline.
• Not so funny after all: Generating buzz during the Super Bowl isn’t always a good thing. Groupon learned that the hard way.
For its first Super Bowl ad, daily deals site Groupon hired a Miami ad firm known for its funny and quirky ads. The agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, created fake public service announcements that showed celebrities who seemingly were discussing social issues, but instead are really talking about Groupon deals.
In one ad, for example, actress Elizabeth Hurley lamented deforestation, but then discussed a deal on a Brazilian wax. In another, actor Timothy Hutton appears to be talking about the crisis in Tibet, but instead raves about a Groupon deal on Tibetan food.
“The people of Tibet are in trouble,” Hutton said in the ad. “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry.”
All ads pointed viewers to www.savethemoney.org, which encouraged visitors to donate to each of the charities related to the causes in the ads. But that wasn’t clear to everyone who saw the commercials.
This year, Groupon is sitting out the Super Bowl