Interview: Super Bowl Ads 101 & SpotBowl 2012 with Super Bowl Advertising Expert Dave Shoffner of Pavone

The Super Bowl is not only one of the biggest days of the year for sports fans, as you may know many non-sports fans tune into the game for the highly entertaining ads and not-so-entertaining ads. Advertising expert, Dave Shoffner of Pavone was kind enough to join me on Friday to discuss the top commercials we'll be seeing during the Super Bowl, which ones to avoid, who will be making a celebrity cameo and which ad he predicts will win the much coveted SpotBowl title on the Monday after the Super Bowl. 


Candace Rose: Dave, why are Americans so fascinated by Super Bowl commercials and when did the fascination begin?

Dave Shoffner: "We always say here at SpotBowl the Super Bowl is the biggest day of the year for two things: football and advertising. I think we're fascinated by the ads because even though the game might not always be entertaining; in fact people watching the game might not even be football fans, we can always count on the ads to sort of carry the day and be that entertainment for us. And as far as when that started I mean the ads have always been sort of entertaining because the Super Bowl's a well watched event, but we really go back to 1984 specifically when Apple made a really great spot promoting its Macintosh computer. You know, that one kind of raised the bar and ever since then we've seen better and better ads in the game."




Candace Rose: Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the ads to look for on Sunday?

Dave Shoffner: "Yeah, in fact we've had the privilege of seeing lots of these ads and one of the trends we're seeing this year is advertisers releasing their ads beforehand to get some pregame buzz. You can go to SpotBowl and check that out, but it looks like a really great lineup. I've been tracking the ads for many years and I'd have to say this years ad lineup looks better than I've seen in many, many years. Budweiser has some great spots (always) some funny spots, and some really good stuff with their Clydesdale horses. We're seeing some really good celebrity cameos and one of my particular favorites is from Chevy and it's called 'Happy Grad' and it's this graduate who thinks he's getting a Chevy Camaro (a new Camaro) it turns out to be his neighbors car. His parents really got him a mini fridge but he goes crazy over the Camaro until he finds out it's not his, so that's a really funny spot. I think that one will do pretty well."


Chevy Camaro Super Bowl 2012 ad USA TODAY"New Yorker wins Chevy's contest to make Super Bowl ad'  Photo by Chevrolet. Image courtesy of: USA Today


Candace Rose: And he actually created that video for a contest, didn't he?

Dave Shoffner: "Yeah, Chevy had a contest where they asked filmmakers to create their ads for them and it's similar to a contest that Doritos does every year. Doritos asked fans which are not quite filmmakers but really just amateurs to make their Super Bowl ads. They narrow it down to the five best and they have a poll to determine which one will air during the game, but I've got to tell you I've seen all five and they look fantastic. You wouldn't know that these are amateurs making these ads, they look really professional, and in fact in the past when they've had these man made spots in the game, they've done really well in polls by SpotBowl."


Candace Rose: Which ads should we avoid?

Dave Shoffner: "Yeah, unfortunately this year's crop looks really good but you're right, sometimes there are always a couple of spots that just stand out for the wrong reasons, they're not that great. Go Daddy is back this year. You know, we're all familiar with Go Daddy's formula- women in not much clothing and I think the formula got old after the second year. It's kind of an insult as an advertiser because its ads aren't that great; but I really think it's an insult to the American public to think that's the kind of ads that people want to see or need to see in order to be committed to buy a product or buy a service and it's just bad."


Candace Rose: Can you tell us what celebrities will be making cameos? We've all heard that David Beckham will be in H&M. 

David Shoffner: "Yeah, David Beckham. The ladies are going to love that spot because David Beckham's in the spot and wearing not much clothing. Yeah, lots of celebrities this year; that's my favorite part of the game is which celebrities are making cameos. Until about a week ago we didn't see a lot of big names in spots but in the last couple of days we've heard some really big names. Jerry Seinfeld is going to be in a really funny spot for Acura, and I won't spoil the surprise but there's another celebrity at the end of that spot. So keep an eye out for that. And we just learned yesterday that Clint Eastwood is going to appear for Chrysler. Adriana Lima (the supermodel) she's in two spots- one for Kia and one for Teleflora. So the ladies have got the David Beckham spot, the guys will have the Teleflora spot."


Jerry Seinfeld Acura ad Super Bowl 2012Jerry Seinfeld for Acura. Photo credit: Image courtesy of: Motor Ward

Candace Rose: The Ferris Bueller ad was hilarious too, I might add!

Dave Shoffner: "Yeah, I was excited about that. I'm a big Ferris Bueller fan. I love the movie so I was excited to hear that Matthew Broderick would be back, sort of in his Ferris Bueller character. They released that un-extended version of that commercial, I think it's about two minutes long so of course they're going to have to edit that down for the game to about 60 seconds, but yeah that's a really funny spot."


  Ferris Bueller Honda Matthew BroderickMatthew Broderick in character as 'Ferris Bueller' in this Honda ad. Photo credit: Honda. Image courtesy of:


Candace Rose: What is the secret would you say to making a great Super Bowl commercial?

Dave Shoffner: "That's the key; that's the question a lot of advertisers are asking because these spots cost 3.5 million dollars but I think it comes down to the fact that you've got to think of these ads as miniature movies. In other words they have to entertain. People want to be entertained while they're watching TV especially while they're watching the Super Bowl, so if you can make a commercial that entertains whether it's with humor, whether it's with sort of a patriotic message like the Clydesdale horses for Budweiser do or whether it's with special effects or even a celebrity. If it entertains you're going to do well, but really the key beyond entertainment is to integrate your product into that story, so your product has to be a key part of that story because if people remember the joke or they laugh you could have the funniest spot in the Super Bowl. But if people don't remember your product you probably just wasted your money."


Candace Rose: Can you tell us about SpotBowl?

Dave Shoffner: "We created SpotBowl. We're an ad agency here in Pennsylvania called Pavone and what Pavone did nine years ago is we created 'The SpotBowl'. We wanted to be a part of the Super Bowl. We love the ads, we know that millions of Americans also love the ads so we created SpotBowl. It's a place where people can go to watch the ads during the game and vote for the ads. Voting starts as soon as the game does and it continues through Monday. But you can actually go to SpotBowl before the game, we've got all kinds of things up there- the ads, the lineup, there's videos, there's a blog, there's recipes- all kinds of stuff."


Pavone Sports SpotBowlThe SpotBowl –


Candace Rose: Which commercial do you expect to make a run for the SpotBowl title?

Dave Shoffner: "You know, any spot with a baby or a monkey, some kind of animal those usually do pretty well. But for me personally I think one of the Doritos spots. We don't know which specific Doritos spot it's going to be, we only know that it's two of the five finalists. We're not even going to know until the game day, but I think any one of those will probably come out on top."


Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?

Dave Shoffner: "Well, you can go to Like I said there's everything you want/need to know about the Super Bowl ads this year on that website. We put a lot of work into it. It's just a lot of fun. We've got twitter set up, there's a blog, facebook. And social media's actually one of the things a lot of advertisers are tapping into this year. We're seeing some campaigns centered around these commercials that are based on social media- a lot of smartphone apps, so that's really a trend we're watching closely this year."


Be sure to check back this week, as I will be speaking with Dave after the Super Bowl to go over the SpotBowl Super Bowl ad results! 




1 Comment

  1. February 11, 2012 / 6:07 pm

    I can say that Superbowl is one of American’s culture already. It is not just the sports they want to play, but a tradition to passed through generations.

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