NEW YORK – Along with puppies and babies, celebrities are a Super Bowl advertising staple. And this year is no exception.
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Using stars is a surefire way to grab attention during advertising's most competitive night, when a crowded field of 40-plus marketers each vying for the attention of the more than 110 million viewers that are expected to tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Advertisers use celebrities to "help insure the success of their creative investment," said Devra Prywes, vice president of marketing for research firm Unruly.
But it doesn't always work. In order for an ad to go viral, it needs to connect emotionally or give the audience multiple reasons to share, Prywes said: "A celebrity can't save an ad that doesn't do those things, but the right celebrity can help amplify it."
This year, advertisers are choosing quirkier celebrities and poking fun at bigger names. For instance, Katie Couric and Bryant Gumble make fun of their inability to understand the Internet in 1994 in a BMW ad. And character actors Steve Buscemi and Danny Trejo star in a Snickers spot.
Here's a look how brands are using celebrities in this year's Super Bowl ads.
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Snickers "The Brady Bunch"
In keeping with its 5-year-old "You're Not You When You're Hungry," campaign that shows hungry people resembling humorous celebrities, Snickers 30-second ad recreates the famous Brady Bunch episode in which the oldest daughter, Marcia, gets hit in the nose with a football. Florence Henderson and action movie "Machete" star Danny Trejo also make appearances.
BMW "Newfangled Idea"
In order to promote its new all-electric BMW i3 in a 60-second spot, BMW enlisted former "Today" show hosts Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel to recreate a 1994 on-air conversation when they tried to figure out what the @ symbol in an email address meant. "Alison," Couric says to an off camera producer in the 1994 clip, "Can you explain what Internet is?" The ad flashes forward to today, when the duo are in a BMW's i3 similarly confused. "Big ideas take a little getting used to," copy states.
Squarespace "Dreaming With Jeff"
The website publisher isn't releasing its full 30-second spot until game time but a teaser ad shows a bearded "The Big Lebowski" actor Jeff Bridges recording relaxing sounds for an album called "Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes." The company plans to sell the resulting tapes in cassette tape and vinyl form and the tracks are free to stream online. Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena said the idea is that any idea can be presented via a Squarespace platform.
T-Mobile hired Kim Kardashian for a 30-second spoof on public service announcements. It pokes fun at Kardashian's constant online presence. She makes a plea to save people's unused data taken back by wireless carriers. She laments that the data could have been used to see Kardashian's makeup, vacations and outfits. "Please help save the data," she pleads. The ad promotes T-Mobile's service that lets users keep their unused data for a year.
Kia "The Perfect Getaway"
Kia's ad spoofs Pierce Brosnan's action-movie persona. In the ad, an agent describes a perfect part for Brosnan, who once played James Bond. Brosnan keeps expecting evil villains or explosions, but actually the agent describes Kia ad in which Brosnan drives to a snowy cabin in a 2016 Sorento. The tagline is "The perfect getaway vehicle."