Super Bowl Ads Still Impact, Ask Betty White

As the oft-nauseating frisson about Super Bowl ads is maybe two weeks away, it's hard to recall a spot having more of an impact than the Snickers gambit last year. Not for the candy bar, mind you, but the favor it did for its star Betty White.

The spot has White in a pick-up football game, where the 88-year-old actress moves with hilarious creakiness and takes a brutal tackle. She then eats a Snickers bar and her identity is revealed: She's actually a young guy playing poorly, who gets an energy boost from the Snickers and ups his game.

The day after the Bowl, USA Today listed it as the most-liked spot. Now, Nielsen reports it gets the same honor for all commercials in 2010.

White went on to have a super year -- for octogenarians and everyone else. The Super Bowl spot was followed by a successful Facebook campaign lobbying for her to host "Saturday Night Live," where she got the gig and won an Emmy.

Then, there is her role in TV Land's comedy "Hot in Cleveland." White signed on as a guest star before the Super Bowl, but then was slotted in as a lead, a no-brainer given her popularity. The show became a breakout hit, with White's new stardom crucial to its ascendancy. A second season is scheduled for 2011.

Just this week, the AP named White the Entertainer of the Year. The news organization wrote that "her unlikely, age-defying success resonated deeply with people who saw in her a spirited, hilarious aberration, a woman not dimmed by age but enhanced by it."

Her Super Bowl launching pad is a reminder that with some luck and the right creative, advertising in the Big Game still offers an opportunity to instantly impact American culture. That doesn't mean the excitement translates into sales: Snickers is owned by Mars, a private company, so it's hard to tell.

The fear now is Snickers will fall victim to the sequel temptation that's infused Hollywood. That it will run a follow-up spot with White in the Super Bowl this February.

Pleas don't. Let the sensation stand on its own.

If Snickers cannot resist, find another below-the-radar, grizzled actor -- Abe Vigoda was also appeared in the White spot -- and use a similar conceit. But don't sully the White wonder by using her in a weak facsimile.

Leave that folly to Go Daddy and Danica Patrick.

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3 comments about "Super Bowl Ads Still Impact, Ask Betty White".
  1. David Schwab from octagon , December 23, 2010 at 1:56 p.m.

    We have been saying all year that Snickers PR department should be paid like Betty White's agent. It's incredible what they have done to reboost her career. Another entity that deserves credit is the casting department at DWTS. The dance show has done wonders for dozens of celebrities; Mario Lopez, Emmitt Smith, Jennie Garth, Apolo Ohno, Nicole from Pussycat Dolls, etc.

    David Schwab
    Octagon First Call
    www.celebrityacquisition.com
    david.schwab@octagon.com
    @david_schwab

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , December 23, 2010 at 2:23 p.m.

    All hats off to Snickers. However, what are the odds that this happens? So the best thing to do is do your best so that a successful campaign fills your coffers with success even if you don't have the opportunity to work with Betty White. By the way, the Aretha Franklin spot was on the spot, too. Snickers have set one high bar for themselves.

  3. Teresa Mceachern from Blogged Again , February 2, 2011 at 10:50 a.m.

    I applaud Betty White for using this as an opportunity to get her career going again - at 88!

    Since they have already made another ad with Aretha Franklin, I think they will follow the same successful pattern but use another octogenarian in her place. Makes great sense to me.