Advertisers battle for own Super Bowl title

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NEW YORK — The pressure was on. The tension was thick. And then, there were yawns in between.

The Super Bowl might have been a nail biter, but the ads were a snooze.

Actor Clint Eastwood waxed about Detroit and Chrysler. An M&M stripped “naked” at a party. And stars from the 90s were everywhere, as were dogs and babies, of course.

Companies paid an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot for the right to duke it out Sunday in front of the expected 111 million-plus fans. But there were fewer surprises.

That’s mostly because nearly half of the 70 Super Bowl advertisers put their spots out in the days ahead of the game. And then the ones that waited until game day for the “big reveal” didn’t take many risks. Most settled on the cliché themes: babies, celebrities, sex and humor.

“Advertisers this year are playing it very safe,” said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University. “They’re running spots that are clearly designed to appeal to a broad audience and not to offend.”

Advertisers showed a little skin in this year’s Super Bowl.

An ad for domain name-hosting site GoDaddy shows race car driver Danica Patrick and fitness expert Jillian Michaels body painting a nude woman.

But perhaps the most blatant example was Toyota’s spot for its “reinvented” Camry. The ad features a “reinvented” couch made up of women wearing bikinis.

Babies and dogs, oh my.

Who doesn’t love cute animals and babies? Advertisers were banking there are none among us.

That’s why Doritos used both. One Doritos spot shows a man being bribed by a dog with Doritos to keep the animal’s dirty secret about a cat’s disappearance. In another spot, a grandmother uses a slingshot to hoist a baby up to grab a bag of Doritos that belongs to a boy in a tree that was taunting the baby with the chips.

Those two ads were crowd favorites, said Peter Dabol, who analyzes advertising effectiveness at research firm Ace Metrix. The firm polled 500 viewers about the ads.

“It’s a typical Super Bowl, funny carries the day,” he said.


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