Confession time: I am one of those people who watches the Superbowl for the ads. In fact, I usually DVR the Superbowl, and fast forward through the game to get to the commercials. Why? The last time I watched a sporting event live in which a team I actually cared about won that game was literally in 2011. Sportsfans, pay me to become an avid fan of your team’s biggest rival….
But I still like the ads. Each year, the ad companies trot out their best ideas, and there always some heartwarming, hilarious, and weirdly fascinating results. Sure, there are still clunkers, but the ad industry’s winners ratio in Superbowl ads is way better than the motion picture and television industries’. And a zillion people watch them, which is why companies spend so much to run those ads. And then, the best ones get replayed endlessly on YouTube for weeks thereafter.
All of this has led to a new peripheral phenomenon in recent years, the Ad You Won’t See On The Superbowl!11!!1! Companies or causes craft an ad to submit to the network to run on the Superbowl which is rejected. Usually its subject matter is self-evidently controversial enough that the NFL realizes testosterone-hyped families across America will get into literal fights over it and be unable to watch the other commercials. Sometimes the ad is perfectly innocuous in subject matter or product, but has a stray moment of unacceptable language or a gratuitous nip-slip or something.
The point is, the ad was deliberately crafted to be rejected. Then the marketing company can run off a press release, filled with High Dudgeon™, about how the ad was banned. If, as is usually the case, it is a political cause, they scream “the NFL doesn’t want you to hear this TRUTH!” And all their supporters rush out to tweet the YouTube link, and they get two million hits. If it is a product, they usually scream “the NFL censored our ad because it was so racy!” Then all the pubescent boys (here meaning males over the age of 12) rush out to watch the video for the nip-slip that ends up not being there anyway.
This is a very successful guerrilla marketing tactic. These advertisers don’t have the money, or at least don’t have it to spare, to afford an actual ad on the Superbowl. It is also an increasingly obvious tactic, and even your average low-information American is beginning to see it for what it is. (Guys will still click on that nip-slip ad link anyway. We’re predictable.)
But most people now realize that the advertiser’s ad is actually not on the Superbowl because they don’t have the money as opposed to having been “banned”, and now we see the next phase in the game. The Ad You Won’t See On The Giant Game We Can’t Name Because We Are Such a Plucky Little Group Who Can’t Compete With The Big Money Guys, So Go With Us Because We Are Artisinal And Stuff style advertisement.
Enter Newcastle Brown Ale, the PBR of the UK. An elderly working class brand now enjoying a hipster-fueled resurgence. This plucky little brand has released this “Behind the Scenes” video of their Superbowl ad that won’t be, starring Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect. The whole thing is about how Newcastle’s reach exceeded their grasp and they couldn’t afford to run their ad on the Superbowl (along with some unconvincing worry about whether she is hot enough for a beer commercial), and now she has to go back to making indie movies or something. It is funny. And trust me, listen carefully to her description of the ad. It would have gotten all the YouTube hits.
Cute, huh? And a great, creative way for a small company to leverage the Superbo… Giant Game With The Trademarked Name hype to their advantage. America really is the land of opportunity, huh?