My Super Bowl Commercial

I was in the office on Saturday January 4th 2006 when the phone rang. It was a media rep from one of the local television stations. The Super Bowl was the next day and one of the local buyers had backed out leaving them with an open spot during the game. She was desperate and calling around to all the local agencies to see if anyone had a client that would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

If you aren't aware, during the Super Bowl there are several allotted packages for local media feeds, this is when the national commercials get put aside for local network affiliates to broadcast their own commercials. So the commercials you see during those segments will vary by where you live and how big your local broadcast zone might be.

It was Saturday. The game was the next day. So the decision needed to be made quickly. If I remember correctly the spot normally sold for about $18,000 or so. Because of the issue and time, they were selling it for less than half-price. I needed about three seconds to make my decision. I'd buy the spot to run our own self-promotional commercial. The Super Bowl that year was the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks, so everyone in Western PA, Northern WV and Eastern OH would be watching. It was a no-brainer.

And so, immediately before kick-off, this spot ran. I always imagine the look of extreme confusion on the faces of everyone watching. 99% of them wouldn't know what the heck that was about. But we weren't interested in them, I was interested in the 1% that knew or would discover us later. Potential clients. Business leaders. And it worked. Traffic to our website more than tripled in the days following the Super Bowl. Calls poured in. New clients came calling. And from that day on, we could say that we ran a commercial during the Super Bowl. Something no other agency, at least that I know about, has done.

The spot itself was created on the spur of the moment. We were about to shoot a several day-long series of commercials for a large client and we were looking at a day of "technical scouting" before the shoot started. So we had nearly a full crew for the day. So I said to the Director, why not take the morning and shoot another commercial? I wrote the spot the day before and had called the local talent studio to pick two actors to show up for the morning. I'd already had a mask built, but we hadn't used it for anything other than a series of promotional photos.

Essentially we made it all up on the spot. The original mask was HUGE and heavy, you can't really see it but it has a brace that wraps around the actors chest, and a large metal bar that goes down his back. It made it very difficult for him to move and we worried about him hurting his neck. After this I had another mask made, this one much, much lighter and easier to use.

2nd time's the charm
So that is the only Super Bowl commercial that I created. I have worked on or been a part of several others, including a few that I helped "fix" in the editing studio. But those are stories for another day.

Hope you enjoyed this bit of real life history. Let me know in the comments. I'm thinking about doing more of these in the future.


  1. I find this kind of behind the scenes stuff fascinating, so please do continue it.

    1. Even if no one else enjoys them, I'm just going to keep writing them every so often. It helps to keep the memories alive at the very least.

  2. Learned something about advertising. In many ways RL is much more interesting.

  3. Really enjoyed this, the interaction between their heads appears so inevitable in hindsight and yet I didn't see it coming, that's perhaps a definition of humour, anyway very funny!


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