Los Angeles (E! Online) - Entice viewers to visit the Website? Check. Kick off unprecedented multimedia campaign? Been there, done that. Launch hip, new product while also touting old favorites? Obviously. So what else is there?
Well, we could smack Justin Timberlake around, or showcase Madonna alongside Marilyn Monroe. What are Richard Simmons and Alice Cooper up to these days? And then there are all those American Idol connections to flaunt...
Who's ready for some football?!
Although not too many people will have to be tricked into watching the seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots take on the upstart New York Giants this weekend, there's no such thing as plain, ol' Super Bowl Sunday anymore.
What with the fancy promotional soirees leading up to the main event, the pregame festivities and, of course, the commercials that will have people completely rethinking their bathroom break schedules—there's something for everyone, even if you only know Tom Brady as the guy who's dating Gisele.
"We know for a fact that the hard-core football fan watches our show every Sunday," Fox Sports chairman David Hill told Broadcasting & Cable. "But there's going to be a whole bunch of people watching the show who are not football fanatics, but who are fascinated with the whole culture of the Super Bowl."
The pigskin will be laced with as much star power as ever this year, and that's not even including the celebs Ryan Seacrest will be interviewing on the red carpet (yes, there's a red carpet now) during Fox's all-afternoon pregame coverage from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Rumored ticket-holders (or luxury box guests) include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and Paris Hilton, who heard there was a party going on somewhere.
But for those unable to tee off alongside Nick Lachey at the Super Skins Celebrity Golf Classic in Scottsdale, or boogie with John Travolta at American Airlines' Saturday Night Spectacular, or knock one back with Carmen Electra at Snow Queen Vodka's Leather & Laces party Friday, Fox has ensured there will be plenty of celebrity sightings right in their living rooms.
Sometime between 3:30 and 4 p.m. PT, Fox watchers will be treated to a duet from Willie Nelson and Sara Evans, then, during the following half hour, Paula Abdul will be doing the singing for a change, debuting her new single, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," off of Randy Jackson's latest album.
About an hour before the 6 p.m. kickoff, Alicia Keys will perform. The Idol invasion continues with hometown girl Jordin Sparks singing the national anthem.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will be serenading American girls and boys during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLII Halftime Show. A coup for them considering last year's headliner, Prince, saw his album sales double the week after the game, according to Billboard.
Meanwhile, amid all the hullabaloo (and don't worry, Fox will still be providing plenty of football-related coverage throughout all that), what's a deep-pocketed advertiser to do?
They may not have been dreaming about it as long as Eli Manning has, but marketing teams have been gearing up for the 2008 Super Bowl since Peyton uncorked the champagne last year. And whether they sell cars, cola, tacos or underwear, all want to ensure that the record $2.7 million they're forking over for 30 seconds of ad time is being put to good use.
"You want to be in the game for a really good reason," AdvertisingAge TV editor Brian Steinberg told E! Online, pointing out the inherent difficulties of making sure viewers know they're watching, for example, a Coke ad, rather than one of Bud purveyor Anheuser-Busch's telecast-leading seven spots. "If you're just there for the hell of it, it's not always easy to get a message out."
But once it's out, boy is it out. More than 93 million people tuned into CBS' Super Bowl coverage last year, and then there were the countless others who hit up the Internet to rewatch their favorite commercials after the game.
Anheuser-Bush, which pays below the average rate because it buys in bulk but shells out a fee to be the event's exclusive beer peddler, alone accounted for 30 million hits in the week following Super Bowl XLI, per the company's estimate.
And, along with Coca-Cola Co.'s three spots (including one for Vitaminwater in which 7-foot, 2-inch Shaquille O'Neal plays a jockey!), the brewer's four minutes of ad time are among the most anticipated this year, as well. (A bonus spot has been prepped for mobile devices after the game, as well.)
Within minutes of their premieres, viewers will be able review and vote for their faves on Google, spike.com, budbowl.com, MySpace, AOL, YouTube, ESPN, funnyordie.com, iFilm, Yahoo, etc.
"It's one of the few remaining venues where people actually watch the commercials. Really, at the end of the day, when you break it down, it's not that much of a premium in terms of reaching people," said Michael Fluck, brand manager for first-time Super Bowl advertiser Bridgestone Firestone North America, which has two 30-second spots this year, not to mention its halftime show sponsorship.
"Not only do we target our core demographic, we reach everybody else, pretty much," Fluck said.
As is the current trend, 10-second snippets of Bridgestone's ads—"Scream," featuring a cute squirrel that would be in danger of becoming road kill if the oncoming car had been equipped with lesser tires; and "Unexpected Obstacles," in which fitness guru Richard Simmons, rocker Alice Cooper and an albino snake also face off against a speeding car—can be previewed online, including on Bridgestone's Website.
Also not technically premiering until Sunday but available for your drooling pleasure is Timberlake going through everything except hellfire once the pull of Pepsi Stuff gets a hold of him. A literally wigged-out Andy Samberg and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also appear in the 30-second ad plugging PepsiCo's new campaign, cosponsored by Amazon, in which Pepsi product buyers earn points redeemable for DVDs, clothing and other "stuff" via pepsistuff.com.
"The stage is set and we aim to fill it," Cie Nicholson, senior VP and chief marketing officer for Pepsi-Cola North America, said regarding the unparalleled opportunity the Super Bowl brings. "In doing so, we're going to put on a really big show the way only we can."
Also under the Pepsi umbrella Sunday:
• Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and Macy Gray's energy and spirits will be flagging until they get a taste of Diet Pepsi Max. • Naomi Campbell struts her stuff for SoBe Life Water. • AMP Energy will give NASCAR star Dale Earnhart the fuel he needs. • Derek Jeter goes to bat for the launch of G2, a low-cal Gatorade that has the Yankees shortstop seeing diamonds in midtown Manhattan. • Don't adjust your dials: Pepsi has also teamed with sister brand Frito-Lay for a completely silent 60-second spot about the love of the game featuring deaf PepsiCo employees communicating in American Sign Language.
Also enlisted for Super Bowl face time were Madonna, Shakira and Marilyn Monroe, all of whom are featured in a fourth quarter spot for Unilever's Sunsilk line of hair-care products, which is using the event to launch its "Life Can't Wait" global marketing campaign.
Stock footage of the three undeniable sex symbols is woven together in a pop-art montage set to music from each. "Make your hair happen," the commercial urges to the strains of "Ray of Light."
Getting in on the action, as well, are a host of studios that in these strike-addled times need all of the exposure they can get for the films that will actually be finished in 2008.
Among others, Paramount has fashioned a new ad for Iron Man; New Line is hawking the Will Ferrell comedy Semi-Pro; Disney's teasing its next Pixar offering, Wall-E, as well as the awaited Chronicles of Narnia sequel Prince Caspian; Sony is unleashing Adam Sandler in Don't Mess with the Zohan; 20th Century Fox passed on Horton Hears a Who to push the sci-fi thriller Jumper; and Universal is taking the opportunity to publicize George Clooney's football-themed '1920s-era comedy Leatherheads.
Taking a cue from the classics, Volkswagen-owned Audi will use a Godfather parody to hype the luxe R8 in the carmaker's first Super Bowl ad in 20 years.
Speaking of exposure, Victoria's Secret is returning to the gridiron for the first time since 1999 to get both guys and gals thinking about Valentine's Day shopping with the help of Angel™ Adriana Lima.
"It will look very different from all of our previous commercials," chief marketing officer Jill Beraud told AdAge. "It's extremely emotional and very flirtatious. It's kind of a wink between men and women."
Electra, meanwhile, will jaw for Hershey-owned Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum.
And speaking of heating things up, the writers' strike that has studios angling for eyeballs may have lit a fire under other companies, as well, propelling a $300,000 increase in the average price for 30-second Bowl spots, per TNS Media Intelligence, with some advertisers paying as much as $3 million.
As of Thursday, Fox had sold all 63 of its 30-second commercial slots, with the last unidentified buyer opting for a full minute, according to a rep for Fox Sports. The trade Mediaweek has estimated that Super Bowl advertising is going to earn the network $170 million, or $225 million if you count the ads airing in shows before and after the game.
"People are very concerned about the lack of original programming on network TV, and the Super Bowl is a big masses-driving event—one of the big strongholds this season for advertising," Steinberg said. Sales were "a little brisker than usual because of the strike."