The 2009 Super Bowl — pitting one the league’s small market teams against one of its weakest long-term performers — attracted more viewers than another Super Bowl in history. The game narrowly topped last year’s matchup on Fox (98.7 million to 97.5 million) and was a distant 4.6 million viewers ahead of Super Bowl XXX (94.1 million). In fact, it was the second most watched broadcast in TV history; only the M*A*S*H finale scored a better audience.


Some of the excitement is due in part to the loyalty of the Black and Gold nation. I read that some diehard fan found at least 2 Steelers bars in every state capital in the country. But that’s a different blog for a different day.
For our purposes, the sideshow — the all important ads — must take center stage. Even in a battered economy, companies lined up in droves to get their messages in front hundreds of millions of eyeballs. In fact, I think I read all available ad slots were filled ahead of the broadcast. Not bad considering the general cuts in ad spend over the last two quarters and the outrageous prices commanded by the network.
So what about the content? Who produced this year’s most memorable spot?

There are entire Web sites dedicated to answering these very questions. But, I don’t think any of them will agree with my assessment. The winner is … Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

It wasn’t the funniest bit; it didn’t have the most advanced special effects; and there were no scantily clad young ladies. It was, however, the perfect balance of visual stimulation, emotional appear and new media integration. Let’s break it down…

Basic storyline

For those three people who missed the game, the commercial featured scenes of neglected athletic fields that slowly morphed into state-of-the-art facilities. A voiceover notes Kellogg’s will help fix up fields in America to support the next generation. Viewers can help decide which fields get the makeovers by visiting the company’s Web site.

Visual stimulation
Using computer-assisted animation, the spot artfully morphed weeds, rusty old fences and dirt patches into championship caliber fields.
Emotional appeal

The voiceover noted the number of children involved in athletics as well as the positive impact such involvement can have on overall development. Drawing on the recent enthusiasm for service, the narrator successfully mined our shared love of sport and children for impact.

New Media  

While most Super Bowl ads seemed aimed at bolstering brand image, Frosted Flakes actually pushed the audience to take action and the company did so through new media. Viewers were asked to participate in the campaign by visiting a Web site. Visitors can nominate a field, which requires a completed registration — can you say database gold mine? The campaign also calls for repeat exposure to the site as visitors cast ballots in different rounds of voting and tune in to watch the fields restored to their glory days.
The final bark
Kellogg’s got the most bang out of its Super Bowl buck — Go Steelers!