Interview: SpotBowl’s Dave Shoffner Dishes the Top Super Bowl Ads of 2013

One thing that sports fans and non-sports fans have in common on Super Bowl Sunday (other than their love of food!) is their fascination with the ads! If you’ve ever wondered what goes into creating a Super Bowl caliber commercial, or how much it costs to run a spot or which ads you can’t miss on Sunday and which ones to avoid, you’re in luck! Dave Shoffner of Pavone Advertising joined me once again to give us a sneak peek of the top Super Bowl ads and dish on the 10th annual SpotBowl!


Pavone's Dave Shoffner gives us a sneak peek at the top Super Bowl ads. Image courtesy of

Pavone’s Dave Shoffner gives us a sneak peek at the top Super Bowl ads. Image courtesy of



Candace Rose: Why are sports fans and non-sports fans alike so fascinated with Super Bowl commercials?

Dave Shoffner: “Well, we always say that the Super Bowl is the biggest day of the year for two things: football and advertising. The advertisers recognize that and consistently over the years they’ve raised their game and and we’ve been used to seeing such great spots during the game. And a big reason for that is the cost, we’re seeing spots going for $3.8 million, which is a record.”


Candace Rose: Do you find that it’s worth it for companies to spend that much on an ad airing during the Super Bowl?

Dave Shoffner: “It definitely can be. It’s a sizable investment and one of the things that you’ve got to think about is that’s just for 30 seconds. A lot of the commercials we’re seeing this year are 60 seconds long which means they’re paying $7.5 million just the airtime. Now if you add up production costs, a celebrity involved, you’re looking at commercials upwards of $10 million each. Again, but for the most part it’s definitely worth it. Last year’s game got a record 113 million viewers, so you’ve got a lot of people watching the game, but you’ve also got a lot of people watching the game for the commercials. They watch it very closely, just the conversations people have before the game, during the game and after the game, all of this attention being paid to the commercials really does make it a good investment.”


Candace Rose: What’s the secret to creating a great Super Bowl commercial that everyone will be talking about on Monday?

Dave Shoffner: “That’s the question that a lot of advertisers have to ask themselves because there’s a lot of money riding on these spots. We always say the secret to a good Super Bowl commercial is you really have to think of these as miniature movies- 30 second movies; 60 second movies and that way they have to entertain people watching them, whether that’s with humor, whether it’s with a patriotic message like a lot of the ones we see with the Budweiser Clydesdale spots being sentimental. So they have to entertain, but more importantly you have to integrate your product into that storyline. If people laugh or they remember the punchline or the celebrity the next day and they won’t remember your product, you may have just wasted your money.”

An adorable newborn Clydesdale horse that was featured in Anheuser Busch's Super Bowl commercial. Be sure to check out the video below for a sneak peek of the commercial! Image courtesy of

An adorable newborn Clydesdale horse that was featured in Anheuser Busch’s Super Bowl commercial. Be sure to check out the video below for a sneak peek of the commercial! Image courtesy of


Candace Rose: What if a commercial brings a lot of attention, but it’s not necessarily a good commercial. Is it worth it for companies to have a bad commercial out there?

Dave Shoffner: “There’s a lot of attention paid to polls like SpotBowl. People want to know what Americans think of a spot and there’s a lot of people and the advertisers who are watching those polls and the results of those polls. It’s important to rank highly in them, but you’re right, even an ad that doesn’t rank high in those polls doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not effective or still wasn’t a good investment.

Go Daddy  doesn’t typically perform well in our poll or many other polls, but it must be working for them because they’ve been back seven or eight years in a row so they see it as a good investment and it works out for them.”


Candace Rose: Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the top ads we’ll be seeing on Super Bowl Sunday?

Dave Shoffner: “You can go to SpotBowl, we do a lot of research before the game trying to figure out who’s going to be there. We have a lineup on the website at and this year’s lineup looks pretty good. I would say it looks even better than last year’s. Like last year we’re going to see a lot of car companies (eight so far); and also a lot of beverages- Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and Coke are back for the cola wars; Doritos is back with their fan made contest where they ask consumers to make the commercials for them, I’ve had a chance to see those and they look really, really good- I think those will contend for the top spot in our poll. Overall it’s just a really strong lineup.”


Candace Rose: You mentioned there are going to be a lot of beverage ads this year. I noticed on SodaStream is going to have an interesting one this year. Do you think it’ll have any impact at all?

Dave Shoffner: “SodaStream is an interesting entry into the lineup, they’re a rookie, this is their first time. They make an at-home soda maker that challenge Coke and Pepsi. We actually worked with them years ago, it’s a great product and it should be interesting to see the approach they take. I’ve seen some of their past spots and they’re kind of interesting. I don’t know how they’re going to perform, but there’s a strong rookie lineup this year, so a lot of the first timers are really in it to win it.”

Candace Rose: Since it’s such a historical game (it’s the first time two brothers are coaching against each other in the Super Bowl) do you think we’ll see any ads geared towards them?

Dave Shoffner: “I haven’t heard anything specific about the coaches being in any of the spots. There are a couple of advertisers that are going to try to work the two teams (San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens) that are in the Super Bowl into their spots and we saw that trend the last couple of years just trying to be relatively timely with the content with their ads, but nothing with the coaches (Jim Harbaugh/SF; John Harbaugh Baltimore) that I’ve seen.”


Candace Rose: Last year the buzz was all about Matthew Broderick starring in the Honda commercial. Which celebrities will be making cameos this year?

Dave Shoffner: “That’s one of my personal favorite things about the ads is which celebrities are making cameos and I look forward to that. I’ve seen a good lineup of celebrities, one of the bigger ones is for Wonderful Pistachios and they always have celebrities in their commercials, but they’ve got Psy the ‘Gangnam Style’ South Korean rapper, he’s going to be in the commercial for Wonderful Pistachios so it should be interesting to see that. ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson will be in a commercial for milk the ‘Got Milk’ people, and I’m personally looking forward to that one- lots of action, lots of humor. We’re also seeing Danica Patrick for Go Daddy. And one of the bigger ones that’s getting a lot of buzz is Mercedes Benz- it has Kate Upton, the supermodel in a very steamy spot, that one’s getting a lot of attention and there will be a lot of eyes on that one.”

Candace Rose: Have you heard any buzz about some of the ads that we should avoid?

Dave Shoffner: “We’re always paying attention to the ones that perform well, but unfortunately some don’t perform as well. I think you have to look at some of the car ads. Volkswagen has won the SpotBowl the last few years but there’s a lot clutter in that category but it’s hard sometimes for a company to stand out. In general car ads are hit or miss for me personally, but also for our poll. The advertisers are being a little more quiet this year about what they’re doing. Last year we saw a lot of the advertisers releasing their spots before the game so we could have a little better indication of which ones to avoid but this year it’s not as clear, so I think we’re going to see a lot of surprises come game day.”

Candace Rose: Can you tell us a little bit more about SpotBowl?

Dave Shoffner: “We’re an advertising agency here in Pennsylvania called Pavone and what we did 10 years ago is try to find a way to get involved in the Super Bowl because we know it’s the biggest day of the year for advertising. We didn’t have any clients that were advertising in the Super Bowl so we came up with SpotBowl which is a national commercial poll to see what people think of the commercials. At the time we were the first national poll on Super Bowl commercials, but there’s been a few others since. Over the years it’s really grown. Last year we got votes from all 50 states, many countries around the world, it’s really America’s opinion of commercials.We stuck it out and we’re still the biggest.

If you go on there before the game, there’s an ad lineup, there’s a blog, there’s news, recipes, party planning tips and a lot of fun before the game. But during and after the game you can go on, watch the spot that you missed and of course vote until 3 p.m. on Monday.”


Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?

Dave Shoffner: “Take your bathroom breaks during the game, not the commercials! You don’t want to miss them, this year’s lineup looks pretty good.”

Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?

Dave Shoffner: “If you want more information it’s, and again we’ve got the lineup up there if you want a sneak peek of who’s going to be in the game, all the news and tips that you could ever want about the Super Bowl ads.”


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