Out to Launch - The Super Bowl Edition

Welcome to the Super Bowl edition of Out to Launch. Grab some chips and salsa and read on.

Let's start with a pre-game spot:

MasterCard's "Marathon," is launching prior to the game and promoting the MasterCard PayPass. Marathon features Olympic Silver Medalist Meb Keflezighi making pit stops during a marathon he's running, using his MasterCard PayPass to make purchases fast.  Meb grabs a sports drink, an US Weekly (hello free product placement!) and even catches a matinee and buys a box of Goobers. All the while, the marathon is still going on, but Meb is so fast that he's got time to kill before completing, and winning, the race. McCann-Erickson created the campaign. Wait till you see MasterCard's fourth quarter ad--it stars a "handy" blast from the past.



Now for the first quarter:

After an 11-year hiatus, Burger King has made its way back to the big game with a 60-second spot, the second ad to air following the kickoff. The ad introduces the Whopperettes, a group of female dancers, acrobats and synchronized swimmers dressed up as lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, flame-broiled beef patties and buns. The ad plays like a performance you might see in Las Vegas. The Whopperettes will appear in three ads: "America's Favorite," "More Mayo" and "Extra Cheese." "America's Favorite" is the only ad running during the big game, and also features Brooke Burke, a recent staple in Burger King ads--remember the spot featuring Burke and Hootie? Crispin Porter + Bogusky created the campaign.

Toyota is launching a 30-second ad in the first quarter of the game promoting the 2007 Camry Hybrid. This ad has been touted as bilingual, yet only one sentence is spoken in Spanish. I wouldn't label this a bilingual spot. Developed by Conill, it features a Hispanic father and his son driving in the Camry Hybrid. The father, speaking English with a noticeable Spanish accent, explains how the hybrid can switch back and forth between gas and electric power. He tells his son why he speaks two languages and why he bought a hybrid: "I'm always thinking of your future."

Diet Pepsi is debuting two ads during the first and second quarters of the Super Bowl. The soft drink has its own agent, Jay Mohr (think back to "Jerry Maguire") who is pitching a record deal to P. Diddy. Mohr insists that the can of Diet Pepsi have creative control over the record. Diddy agrees, and "Brown and Bubbly" soon hits the airwaves and dance clubs. "Hip-Hop Can" is a 60-second spot and "Stunt Can" is a 30-second ad starring Jackie Chan. Chan desperately wants to star in an action movie with Diet Pepsi, but agent Mohr insists that there be a stunt double for the can. As Chan faces a group of bad guys, Chan turns to Diet Pepsi and says, "Watch my back, OK?" DDB New York created both Diet Pepsi spots.

On to the second quarter:

Kermit the Frog is hiking through the forest when he discovers a Ford Escape Hybrid. I guess he finds something else trying to be green, right? Ha. The 30-second ad will debut during the second quarter of the game--and that's all I know of the spot. My sneak preview contained no sound and lasted only 10 seconds. We'll have to tune in on Sunday to find out more. JWT Detroit created the campaign. After the Super Bowl, ads featuring Kermit will appear throughout the year on shows such as "American Idol," "CSI: Miami" and the Barbara Walters Academy Awards Special. Online ads will run on ESPN, MSN, AOL, and the Washington Post site.

Cadillac is promoting its 2007 Escalade through a more estrogen-friendly 60-second spot. "Chrome Couture" opens backstage at a fashion show where models are getting their hair and makeup done. Models begin to make their way down the runway, with chrome the underlying theme on their makeup and outfits. The last model down the runway, supermodel Oluchi, rises up to the catwalk on a platform, revealing chrome eyeliner, lipstick and accents to her dress and jewelry. The focus then shifts to the Escalade as it arrives on the catwalk in all its black paint and chrome accent glory, which closes the fashion show. Watch for Marcus Allen, Rachel Hunter, Vida Guerra and Jadakiss in the spot. The ad debuts during the second quarter and was created by Leo Burnett Detroit.

United is launching a regional spot prior to the halftime event in major markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. "Dragon" is United's first Super Bowl ad in more than ten years. The animated spot shows a businessman leaving for a trip and tucking his son into bed. The dreaming son sees his dad taking on "heroic" heights and in the end slaying a dragon. There is no speaking in the ad until a voiceover at the end states, "Where you go in life is up to you. Time to fly." Fallon created the campaign.

Make way for the third quarter:

"I can't believe it's not buhhter." I can't believe Fabio is starring in an ad for Nationwide insurance. Well, maybe I can. "Gondola" is one of five ads created as part of Nationwide's "Life Comes At You Fast" campaign, and features Fabio romancing a woman down the canals of Venice. Since we're talking about a man who, during a roller coaster ride a few years ago, was hit in the face by an inflight Canadian goose (the goose didn't make out so well) it would be GREAT if the ad showed a similar incident occurring. But alas, it does not. Let's just say Fabio ages... fast. "Gondola" runs in the third quarter and "Proposal" and "Swing" will break pre-game. This marks the first time that Nationwide has ever advertised during the Super Bowl. TM Advertising created the campaign.

American HomeHealth is launching a 30-second spot in the third quarter to promote its brand of anti-bacterial cleaning products, PS. The spot begins in a "Desperate Housewives"-esque neighborhood; only problem is, everyone is wearing biohazard gear. During every activity shown--from grocery shopping to kissing spouses--the biohazard gear stays put to prevent the spread of bacteria. The ad concludes with a voiceover stating, "There are many ways to help reduce the spread of bacteria; some are just a bit more practical than others." Ronin Advertising Group created the campaign.

I guess people like the chimps. I, myself, do not. has resurrected the star chimpanzees from last year's commercials for two 30-second Super Bowl spots as part of a national, yearlong campaign. Created by Cramer-Krasselt, the ads are running in the second and third quarters of the Super Bowl. The spots will once again feature the perils of a human employee working in an office populated entirely by chimpanzee co-workers who have a less-than-desirable work ethic, no understanding of business and a penchant for play. The tagline remains the same as last year: "a better job awaits."

Here comes the fourth quarter:

I loved this ad before I even watched it: I have a soft spot for "MacGyver" and its star, Richard Dean Anderson. MasterCard is launching "MacGyver" in the fourth quarter, promoting the Debit MasterCard. The spot is one of my favorites: we see MacGyver using a pine tree car air freshener as a knife to cut the rope that's binding his hands behind his back, a tube sock to propel down a wire, and a paper clip, tweezers, nasal spray, turkey baster and a pen to jump-start a truck right before a building blows up. "Little things that get you through the day? Priceless." The spot concludes with MacGyver replenishing his stock of goods, helped by a perplexed checkout girl. It's not every day someone stuffs tube socks in his pockets... or is it? McCann-Erickson created the campaign.

The ad for Degree antiperspirant takes place in "Stunt City," playing on the fact that Degree is a product for men who take risks. The ad shows "Degree Men" jumping out of windows, hailing a taxi by riding on the back, riding a motorcycle through a window and falling through a ceiling to arrive at work on time. The ad debuts during the fourth quarter and was developed by Lowe Worldwide. Last year's Degree ads featured the "In-Action" heroes such as "Mama's Boy" and "The Wuss."

Emerald nuts advertised in the fourth quarter of last year's Super Bowl and returns to said quarter again. Last year's ad showed a father who didn't want to share his Emerald nuts with his daughter. He told her that the Easter Bunny, leprechauns and unicorns didn't exist... until he learned otherwise. I have no idea how this ad turns out. All I have is this screen shot. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco created the ad.

Stop the presses. Super Bowl ads are targeting women. Why haven't marketers done this earlier? I bet those ads will have a higher brand recall than the usual testosterone-driven spots. This Dove ad, for example, won't be swept under the rug. Dove is launching an ad for 8- to 17-year-old girls during the big game, but the target is more like family members of 8- to 17-year-old girls. The spot continues Dove's successful "Real Beauty" campaign by highlighting the sad fact that young girls suffer from self-esteem issues, whether they think they are too ugly, fat, or wish they could change something about themselves--ditch their freckles, alter their hair color, etc. The song "True Colors" resonates in the background, sung by members of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Chorus from Long Island, New York. The 45-second spot, created by Ogilvy & Mather, suggests ways adults can make a difference in how girls feel about themselves.

Gillette is launching 30- and 60-second spots promoting Gillette Fusion and Gillette Fusion Power, a wet shaving system for men. The spot begins in a desert where there's a remote laboratory, with scientists carrying briefcases into high-level security areas. The scientists work with two different-colored liquids that are placed in one machine... and get this... fuse together and become one! The campaign emphasizes the combination of two breakthroughs--a five-blade Shaving Surface technology on the front of the cartridge and a Precision Trimmer blade on the back--that have been incorporated into the new shaving systems. BBDO New York created the ad. The ad is running in an undisclosed quarter--maybe the answer is in the remote lab in the desert. Following the Super Bowl, Gillette Fusion TV ads will appear on network and cable shows such as "The Tonight Show," "Lost" and "24," and during the Daytona 500 and Olympics. Print ads will appear in Sports Illustrated, Esquire, ESPN, Rolling Stone and Men's Health.

What would Super Bowl ads be without a spot from the NFL Network? I could think back to a day when the network didn't exist, but we're on deadline. "NFL Nation" is a 60-second spot showing groups of football fans in different settings--from two young boys dressed in Peyton Manning and Michael Vick jerseys watching two older boys playing football in a park, to Chargers fans wearing LaDainian Tomlinson jerseys at the beach. The spot contains cameos from NFL players such as Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, shown playing with his two sons in the backyard, and Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis, shown with his parents. The ad, basically a thank-you to football fans, concludes with a voiceover stating, "Tonight we're all connected, at one point in time, by the game. So on this, our most Super Sunday, we just want to say thanks. We're proud to be a part of the family." Triple Double created the campaign.

ESPN is launching its first-ever Super Bowl ad with "Sports Heaven," promoting Mobile ESPN. The spot shows a man so enraptured with watching sports on his phone that it's almost as if the sports are surrounding him--from streets filled with Indy cars, dragsters and monster trucks to pedestrians as athletes from virtually every sport; we're talking Olympic gymnasts, track and field stars, and baseball, football and basketball players. Look closely for the myriad cameos. The world of sports is now available in travel size. The spot ends with the tag line: "This is Sports Heaven." Arnold created the campaign. doesn't need to advertise during the Super Bowl--it's already milked $2.5 million worth of publicity. The company created "Window Washer," which was quickly rejected by ABC. The ad shows an "executive" talking about how can't possibly advertise during the big game. The men the exec are talking to have control over a window washing platform outside, where a female window washer is washing windows with her squeegee and her, um, breasts. Follow the link to watch the ad yourself. UPDATE: is becoming more and more like death and taxes: there's no escaping them. At the eleventh hour, ABC finally approved an ad to run during Sunday's game. Guess the 14th try was the charm for

This concludes the Super Bowl edition of Out to Launch. All this talk of Super Bowl ads has left me craving buffalo wings.

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