Raising The Bar In Super Bowl Video Production
As someone who’s been round the block a few times, having seen and rated hundreds of wonderful Super Bowl spots, I was flabbergasted after having seen the Tide “Miracle Stain” commercial. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to reflect, it wasn’t just that it was one of the better spots in the game. I ranked it #1 on my list, and it missed the top slot in the USA Today Ad Meter by 0.01%. We also got some inside scoop from the creative team responsible for the ad -- fascinating and instructive for anyone involved in video advertising.
The logistics of bringing this commercial together in time for the Super Bowl, with such high quality and amazing digital support, were simply outstanding. I’ve been contributing to Video Insider for several years and it goes against the norm to call out a single ad, but this is game-changing stuff. As a pure spectator in this case, I think it bears closer examination.
First, it’s all about the stars of the spot, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens (to a lesser degree, despite their amazing victory). The AFC and NFC championship games did not conclude until late in the evening of Jan. 20.. Predicting the winners of the hotly contested games would have been near impossible, as there was only a four-point advantage for the winning 49ers over the Falcons -- and who would have predicted that the Ravens would be able to pull off their victory over the favored New England Patriots, especially on the road. So how did Tide and its agency team pull this off?
Well, we learned that the creative team
shot all four potential Super Bowl participants in advance of the Conference Championship games. The creative team decided the “stain” would be a player/legend from the NFC; therefore, the
ad’s “husband,” Marcus, represented the NFC conference. He played both a 49ers fan and a Falcons fan. Meanwhile, the “wife,” Carmen, represented the AFC conference
and played a Ravens fan and a Patriots fan.
Once the Ravens and 49ers won their respective Conference Championships to make the Super Bowl, the race was on. The production teams quickly shot the large crowd scenes used in the spot.
A typical commercial would have to first advance to the storyboard stage, demanding client approval. Then the process would evolve to production planning with a myriad of elements to handle -- from final casting and costuming to final shoot scheduling, along with dealing with potential weather issues for the outdoor scenes.
Let’s assume they had the director and production crew all set and ready to go long before the championship games. The production team would still need final legal approvals from Joe Montana for his name and likeness and probably from the NFL, even though they were official sponsors. Anyone who’s been involved in sports marketing will know what a daunting task alone that can be.
There were 10 business days available to get all of this done, shot, edited, re-edited and approved by the client for release. Then the video would still have to be presented to CBS for final approval before airing. Networks typically ask to see final film on the final Wednesday before the game at 5 p.m., but we learned that the planners got a two-day extension to Friday – less than 48 hours before kick-off!
All of this amounted to an amazing logistical feat. The spot successfully aired on Sunday, Feb 3.
There were even more challenges facing the Tide team and their agency. There were two supporting URLs involved in the release of the Miracle Stain spot, including a very elaborate Miraclestain.com page on YouTube that included the commercial -- along with such videos as an amazingly relevant and funny “stain-saver” infomercial, a perfect companion to the commercial storyline.
My sincerest congratulations to the whole Saatchi & Saatchi team, Tide, VFX: The MIll, LA, and Director Bryan Buckley via Hungry Man, New York. While I’ve always been an advocate for techniques like crowdsourcing to deliver great videos quickly, the work by those involved with this spot is stunning and sets a new standard for everyone in the video business, whether a brand, an agency, or production company.
It’s all about logistics! And this effort was truly an amazing lesson.