The Patriots won’t be returning to the gridiron on Sunday, and Brady and Gronk will be wearing Buccaneers uniforms instead. But there will be plenty of Boston connections off the field, in the local advertising industry.
Some of the ties involve behind-the-scenes work. Boston media-purchasing firm Mediahub, for example, is helping bring three first-time advertisers to the Super Bowl: Chipotle, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and Cointreau. And Jack Morton Worldwide designed the set for broadcaster CBS Sports.
What about the ads themselves? Local firms have a piece of that action, too. For the most part, the themes remain lighthearted despite the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — or maybe because of them.
“I think more than anything else, humor is going to rule the day,” said Tim Vaccarino, executive creative director at MullenLowe in Boston. “Brands are really vying for the opportunity to allow people to escape from everything we’re dealing with, even for just a beat.”
DraftKings: The sports-betting company developed its first Super Bowl ads with its in-house team. The two 15-second spots feature DraftKings on-camera host Jessie Coffield, and are aimed at driving fan engagement with the game. Among other things, DraftKings is running a free-to-play contest in which fans can enter to win cash prizes for those who correctly predict the most fourth-quarter outcomes, from a list of 10 questions. DraftKings is going big with this bet, given that 30 seconds of airtime in the national broadcast sells for $5.5 million.
E*Trade: MullenLowe is behind the other national ad with local roots, an E*Trade spot dubbed “Workout.” It’s a return to the Big Game for both companies. MullenLowe crafted its first Super Bowl ad for the Virginia-based online brokerage in 2018. The new 30-second spot was produced last summer, long before the recent GameStop mania in the stock market. The story line: A young, scrawny kid attempts to get in shape. The message: It’s the right time of year to achieve financial fitness. The soundtrack: “You’re the Best,” the Joe Esposito song made famous by the original “Karate Kid” movie.
Boston Beer: The Samuel Adams brewer and its hapless but likable ambassador known as “Your Cousin from Boston” will commandeer the Clydesdales known for promoting Budweiser. In a 30-second spot, the bungling character accidentally unyokes the horses and unleashes chaos. It airs in New York and Boston markets only, at a $770,000 price tag. Boston Beer’s agency is from San Francisco (Goodby Silverstein & Partners), but the spot was directed by Worcester native Matt Aselton and stars Amesbury native Greg Hoyt. Yes, the accent sounds good because it’s real. Maybe he can team up with Hyundai for a Smaht Pahk ad next year.
Arbella Insurance: Quincy-based insurer Arbella lands a local spot for its first Super Bowl ad. This one is only airing in the Boston market, but it features another bumbler. This time, it’s a guy telling jokes that fall flat at a fancy pre-wedding meal. Don’t combine stand-up comedy with a rehearsal dinner, the narrator says, but do combine home and auto insurance with Arbella. The ad was created by Joe Berkeley LLC, a local agency. Joe Berkeley’s firm was also behind the Shields MRI ads a few years ago that featured Pats-turned-Bucs QB Tom Brady and his Super Bowl rings. Roger that? Sorry, Joe. Not this time.
New England Honda Dealers: Boston agency Full Contact might be the last one to arrive at the Super Bowl party. Founding partner Marty Donohue only found out that one of the roughly dozen local spots became available three weeks ago, after another advertiser bailed. His client, an alliance of New England Honda dealerships, jumped at the chance. The Full Contact team brainstormed a concept at breakneck pace. They shot the spot two weeks ago: Two buddies on a ski lift talk about the Super Bowl and the “Greatest Offer of All Time” — Honda’s zero-percent financing. Get it, Brady fans? It’s the GOAT. One of the friends buries his head in his winter gloves and sobs: “I miss you, GOAT.”