This year’s Super Bowl will not only take place in the Bay Area, but will feature a Sonoma County advertiser as Rohnert Park-based outdoor clothing maker Marmot rolls out its first television spot for the big game.
The 30-second ad, scheduled to show up during the first half of Sunday’s game, features the animation-enhanced friendship of a marmot and an eager-beaver outdoorsman. It seeks to introduce a brand long known among mountain climbers and skiers to a wider audience — and to do it on a day where advertisers typically spend tons of cash and pull out all the stops.
“We’re creating a new message that the outdoors is for everyone,” Tom Fritz, Marmot’s vice president of marketing, said Wednesday. The hope is that viewers “will fall in love with Marmot ... and scramble to learn more about the brand.”
The ad slots reportedly are fetching as much as $5 million for 30 seconds during the game in Santa Clara between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, though how many companies actually pay that amount remains a matter of conjecture.
Regardless, the Super Bowl spot is a milestone for Marmot, which in 2014 spent a total of $4.6 million on television, radio, print and online advertising, according to ad research company Kantar Media.
Marmot, named for a large member of the squirrel family that lives among Alpine crags, doesn’t disclose such financial matters. But Fritz acknowledged that Sunday’s advertising opportunity is “absolutely as big as it gets.”
The chance came through Marmot’s parent company, New York-based Jarden Corporation. Its collection of 100-plus companies includes such familiar names as Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam and Coleman. Marmot was the first of its businesses to be selected for a Super Bowl ad campaign.
“Jarden felt it was worth the investment to see where it could take the brand,” Fritz said.
Already Marmot has put up three small teaser videos on its website. They show the marmot making pine needle angels, eating marshmallows by a campfire and relieving itself at the edge of a cliff.
Super Bowl ads involve big bucks and big risks, but occasionally result in big rewards, said Thomas O’Guinn, a professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
“This is a long-running question of whether they’re worth it,” O’Guinn said. “And most of them probably aren’t.”
Rare are the big winners like Apple’s 1984 ad, created by “Blade Runner” and “Alien” director Ridley Scott, which announced the coming of the Macintosh computer amid an Orwellian tableau inspired by the novel “1984.”
“That ad set the tone for a whole new chapter in Apple history,” O’Guinn said.
Humor, a basis for many Super Bowl ads, can work well when the punch line cements the message with the brand, he said. An example was Budweiser’s ad for its new light beer in the mid-1980s, in which the request at bars of “Gimme a light” was met with flaming arrows or flashlights, prompting the patron to add the phrase to make it a “Bud Light.”
However, many times the result is an ad that is memorable for the wrong reasons. While Super Bowl viewers can easily recall the cute characters in an ad, they often skip over the brand it was supposedly all about.