How Hollywood Should Advertise During the Super Bowl
You've already seen Dustin's ranking of the five best Super Bowl commercials from last night. Notice that none of them are movie previews? That's because the trailers shown during the big game both sucked and were for the most part old. And they were for films you really couldn't give two burning, post-Super Bowl Sunday shits about, like The Last Airbender and, umm, The Back-Up Plan. Since when do football fans like J.Lo rom-coms about sperm-donor pregnancy?
What Hollywood needs to do, besides saving any money it's thinking about spending on movies like The Back-Up Plan and advertising of such movie, is go outside the box in their Super Bowl spots. If you're going to spend the $3 million for the time, spend a lil more and get Russell Crowe and his Merry Men to do a non-clip preview for Robin Hood in which they're playing football against Prince John and his army. What, are you worried it'll remind us too much of a certain sequence from Disney's animated version?
And where was the Iron Man 2 spot? I'm sure Robert Downey Jr. would have been game for a Super Bowl-related ad in which his armored super hero plays a little scrimmage against Don Cheadle in his War Machine suit. Okay, so not every movie preview has to be football-themed, but hopefully you get the idea. The point is that nearly every other company advertising during the Super Bowl actually makes an effort to make ads unlike those we see on a regular basis. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but suddenly that failed 3-D Monsters vs. Aliens ad last year seemed like a smart idea.
At the beginning of the game a buddy of mine asked me what big blockbusters were going to debut their first trailers during the game. I wished I could tell him I'd heard rumor of secret spots for football-fan-friendly films like Predators and The Expendables. He was obviously disappointed, because none did. Instead, we got a look at The Prince of Persia, which is a terrible representative of this summer's tentpoles (I hope?). And it's not just the fault of the internet as movie trailer platform. Even something leaked to the web early could have been fresh for most Super Bowl viewers, and a hit either way if it were good enough.
Meanwhile, there were the non-trailers that were movie-related. I must have missed the Vacation ad, though I apparently didn't really miss anything. The Volkswagon ad was movie-related in that it made me wish Cop Out paired Tracey Morgan up with Stevie Wonder in a buddy cop movie instead of Bruce Willis. The Late Show commercial was clearly a teaser for It's Complicated Too. And finally, that Google ad is movie-related because I guarantee some producer is already trying to buy the rights to the story in order to turn it into some terrible You've Got Mail-meets-Before Sunrise sort of rom-com. And it will all be told via Google searches and will be lauded by the same people who praise (500) Days of Summer for its innovative structure and "great editing."
If I'd had a movie coming out soon, I certainly would have liked the exposure of that record-breaking viewership (I wonder how many people today are asking their parents, "what was M*A*S*H?").
Here are some other reactions to the Super Bowl movie-related ads from around the web:
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub at Collider:
I gotta say, the one ad that definitely has me more excited for the film is The Last Airbender. The visuals looks very cool and when you're showing an ad to a room full of drunk football fans, it's not the dialogue that sells a film...it's the visuals. I used to be a big M. Night fan...I'm hoping this film delivers the goods.
- Krystal Clark at ScreenCrave:
The first TV spot shown was for The Last Airbender during the Super Bowl Kick-Off show, right after the singing of the National Anthem. It was one of the few cases where the TV spot was actually better than the trailer. It was our first time seeing some real action footage from the film and it was great.
- RC at Strange Culture:
The Break-up Plan: I had no idea there would be a preview for "The Break-up Plan" but the quality of this preview was HORRIBLE, not to mention the home birth baby pool in a movie preview, during the super bowl. Who is this movie for? Anyone other than Rikki Lake? It looks horrible.
- Bill Gibron at PopMatters (on the Back-Up Plan spot):
Disney must have dropped this one in unexpectedly, taking the place of a promised look at Toy Story 3. Since it originally looked like some New Age advertisement for a feminine hygiene product (or worse, one of those terrible Bud Light riffs), many may have missed the "Coming Soon" reference. The voice over confirmed "This Film is Not Yet Rated". Based on the trailer, it deserves an "F".
- Mark at I Watch Stuff:
Here's the latest ad for Prince of Persia. Sounds like Jake Gyllenhaal really wants someone to hand him a dagger [...]
Sheesh, someone give this guy his dagger already.
- Sean Dwyer at Film Junk:
Last year people were drooling over the cutting edge TV spots for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. This year we got a lot of 30-second spots for movies that are coming out in the next month that have already been advertised to death (plus The Back-Up Plan starring Jennifer Lopez).
- Kevin Kelly at Cinematical:
Did anyone catch the painful, poorly written HomeAway commercial "Hotel Hell Vacation" where Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprised their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold? If you didn't, make sure you catch the entire fourteen minute long version for extra torture. To say the writing was horrible would be a compliment -- did they cast a Joe Pesci as David Ferrie in JFK lookalike contest loser as Rusty? Good grief. However, it did give me faith that another Vacation movie could work with a kick-ass script. Just watch Chevy Chase singing in the shower. That's the Clark Griswold we grew up loving. Someone write us a new Vacation, and make it good.
- Neil Miller at Film School Rejects:
It follows the same formula as the previous Vacation films, but lacks that certain Je ne sais quois that the films possessed. Perhaps it has something to do with motive. I don't know. And what in the hell happened to Rusty? The only saving grace is the still existent chemistry between D'Angelo and Chase. They should make another movie, but with a better writer. Or not. Maybe we should let John Hughes rest peacefully and not touch this property ever again.
- Peter Sciretta at /Film:
I could barely make it through this "short film," and that is coming from a guy whp enjoyed most of the National Lampoon Vacation series (yes, even Vegas Vacation... but not the Cousin Eddie spin-off craptacular). I've said it before... John Hughes is probably rolling around in his grave.
- Scott Tobias at A.V. Club:
Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo appearing as the Griswolds in the HomeAway.com commercial proved a little more successful (it's mildly amusing, though well short of inspired), and better at actually selling the concept on offer--in this case, the hassles and expenses of going to hotels. Then again, those hassles are more lightly absurd than truly identifiable, with rooms with Being John Malkovich ceilings and valets that kick the shit out of your car. Hotels can be crappy enough without having to make stuff up.
- David Chen at /Film:
I love Christopher Guest, both as an actor as a director, so I was intrigued when I heard he'd be shooting a series of viral commercials to help promote the U.S. Census (Huh?). One of the ads aired last night during the Super Bowl, costing taxpayers $2.5 million (a fact which has caused some consternation).
- Melena Ryzik at The Carpetbagger:
In other movie-ad news, that was indeed Jeff Bridges's voice you heard in those Hyundai commercials during the Super Bowl, in which that best-actor nominee for "Crazy Heart" plugged the Sonata and its amazing warranty. Though the nitpicky Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a longstanding rule against its nominees being featured in ads within one hour of their appearance on the Oscar telecast, it has still decided to work with Hyundai, its largest advertiser this year
- Jessy Krupa at PopMatters:
Other commercials used celebrities to attract attention, ranging from Stevie Wonder playing slug-bug with Tracy Morgan for Volkswagen to Betty White and Abe Vigoda belittling themselves for Snickers. The worst of these was a dull Late Show With David Letterman ad that featured him, Oprah, and Jay Leno watching the game together. The point seemed to be "Look how many celebrities we can fit onto one screen!" Way better than that was Coca Cola's spot featuring characters from The Simpsons. It was better than The Simpsons movie.
- Noel Murray from A.V. Club (hinting that commercial director Carl Erik Rinsch needs a movie deal already):
The Kia Sorento ad with giant toys partying in Vegas packed a half-dozen great visual gags into a minute: a sock monkey getting a knit tattoo, a robot doing The Robot, Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba shattering bowling pins, and so on. I'm not sure who directed, but the commercial reminded me a little of Spike Jonze in the way it made the ridiculous look real. Dig that sock monkey on the JetSki!
- Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood:
Madison Avenue has grown as uncreative as Hollywood, judging from this year's lame-ass commercials. Bridgestone's "Killer Shark" ripped off The Hangover. CareerBuilder's "Casual Fridays" thought men's tighty whities were a laugh riot. Monster showcased a violin-playing "Beaver". Budweiser ads really sucked. But all those Doritos ads made by aspiring filmmakers get my vote for the worst.
- Larry Carroll at MTV Movies Blog (from a list of memorable movie-related Super Bowl ads):
"Cast Away" (2001)
Sometimes, the smart ads advertise a movie without really doing so. This one played off a tie-in between Robert Zemeckis' "Cast-Away" and FedEx, and made a big impression when it ran. The best part: The commercial was conceived after Zemeckis made a passing joke that one of the unopened packages on the island with Tom Hanks contained a solar-powered satellite phone. Unsurprisingly, they didn't get Hanks to reprise his role as the character of Chuck for the commercial - but anyone who'd seen the film got the joke right away.
- Michell Collins at Best Week Ever (on the Megan Fox Motorola ad):
TRADE THE PHONE WITH A PLUGGED-IN TOASTER AND YOU'VE GOT OUR FAVORITE AD OF THE NIGHT
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