'Iron Man 3' Grabs Moviegoer Interest With Cliffhanger Super Bowl Ad

by , Feb 5, 2013, 8:48 AM
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Robert-Downey-Ironman3-Ad-AAfter all of the heartfelt brand affinity and predictable cleverness that is Super Bowl advertising, it still boils down to selling the goods. In the case of movie studios, the big games are an opportunity to whet audience appetite for releases that are sometimes months away and get butts into seats.

Numerous major films were advertised during the Super Bowl but Fandango fans cited five that floated to the top of their must-see list: "Iron Man 3," "Fast and Furious 6," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "OZ: The Great and Powerful" and "World War Z." According to a flash poll of over 1,000 of its Facebook users, Fandango found that "Iron Man 3" flew away with viewers’ hearts and maybe their $10 this summer.

When asked “Which Super Bowl ad made you want to buy a ticket to an upcoming movie,” the trailer for "Iron Man 3" got an overwhelming 44% of responses. "Fast and Furious" trailed considerably, but took second place with 23%. The "Star Trek" sequel from J.J. Abrams only got the nod from 16% of Fandango users, "OZ" 9% and "World War Z" 4%.

The Super Bowl spot used a cliffhanger structure to grab the viewer. The metal-sheathed hero is left to rescue 13 people dropping from a bombed airliner when he can carry only four. "The Iron Man 3" ad pointed viewers to a Facebook page for an “extended” trailer, which attracted nearly 70,000 likes and 51,000 shares less than a day after the spot ran.

And kudos to the film marketers for making the second-screen experience wittier than the spot. Promising an “Extended Look” at the Facebook site, we get star Robert Downey Jr. staring intently directly into the camera for a puzzling length of time. The “look” make have been more “extensive” than “extended,” Downey quips. 

Interestingly, the focus of "Iron Man 3" on straightforward drama seemed to best the Star Trek franchise’s appeal to gadgetry with its sophisticated iOS promotional app. The Paramount property issued the app last week with a  number of novel features that users could unlock through image and audio scanning movie assets and location-based experiences.

After the "Star Trek" trailer ran on the Super Bowl, for instance, app users were able to unlock movie tickets for showings of the film two days before its planned May 17 release. App users will get a series of opportunities to open up new film assets and offers as the release approaches. It is a unique use of apps as a promotional vehicle to stoke long-term anticipation of a property. The URL for the app download at Apple’s App Store was promoted within the ad spot during the big game.

But if the users of Fandango are representative of most Super Bowl viewers, then "Iron Man 3"'s simple appeal to the most traditional of melodramatic devices -- the cliffhanger -- trumped gadgetry. After all, "Star Trek Into Darkness" looks cool and all, but how exactly is a playboy/genius in a metal suit going to snatch 13 falling people out of the sky at once?   

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