Like 100M other hyped up sports fans, I hunkered down on the couch last Sunday to watch Superbowl XVL. Not being a huge fan of either team, I decided to focus on the advertising strategies instead of the coaching strategies. I kept track of all the brand and product placements that were scattered throughout the pre-game shows, and during the game itself. Some were obvious, others, not so much.

Here are 10 from my list – the 5 most blatant, and 5 other, more subtle placements. Do you think this brand strategy is more effective or less effective than the commercials themselves? Did you see any additional placements that deserve a nod?

Top 5 Most Blatant (excluding FOX TV).

  • Pizza Hut Pre-Game show: Fox gave Pizza Hut tons of exposure during the show leading up to kick off. The Pizza Hut logo was embedded in the lower left of the screen, and often appeared superimposed on the TV monitors behind the commentators, and on the surface of the table they sat around. The most blatant moment: the Pizza Hut lunch break during which Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson fed the TV crews hundreds of Pizza Hut Pizzas. Pretty “cheesy”.
  • Chevy Post-Game show: Okay, it was obvious Chevy dumped a ton of cash into the Superbowl ad coffers this year. Some of their commercials were compelling, and I definitely left the game with their brand in my subconscious consumer mind. However, I was appalled when Terry Bradshaw halted the Lombardi trophy presentation to announce that Arron Rodgers had just won a new convertible Chevy Camaro. Ugh. I would rather hear Arron announce he was “Going to Disneyland.”
  • President Barak Obama and Bill O’Reilly: This “exclusive” interview was teased throughout the pre-game show, and finally took place about 15 minutes before kick off. Do we really need a political debriefing as we pass around the nachos and beer? This was more a promo for Fox News than the state of world affairs.
  • E-trade Baby Panel: Not sure about you, but I am over the E-trade baby. It was cute for a while, but let’s move on. Not so fast, apparently… in addition to the various E-trade baby commercials, they also ran a pre-game analysis panel featuring Howie, Jimmy, and Terry as infants sitting around discussing the game with the E-Trade baby. Funny, but did little to add credibility to the E-trade brand.
  • Bud Light Cam: Every 30 minutes or so during the game, the “Bud Light Cam” logo would appear in the lower left of the screen, and the announcers would state “Today’s wire cam brought to you by Bud Light.” Thanks Bud,… I guess?

Top 5 Most Subtle (and effective):

  • Gatorade: Occasional shots of players drinking Gatorade, logos on the team towels, and of course the much-anticipated Gatorade soaking of the winning coach. All good in my book.
  • Nike: At some point during the first half, the commentators were discussing Rothlessberger’s physical toughness during a close up shot of the quarterback’s taped up right ankle. The familiar Nike swoosh was clearly visible on his left shoe. Now that’s tough. The Steelers may have lost, but Nike won the subtle product shot award.
  • Reebok: Not to be outdone, Reebok got a few gratuitous shots of their logo, which appeared on the side of the Packers’ championship hats, and on the sleeve of the winning coach’s jacket. Still think Nike’s was better.
  • Ford: I had to rewind the DVR a couple times on this one, but I noticed Ford’s giant in-stadium logo sign conveniently appeared in the background of the coin toss ceremony. Then, their Focus Rally commercial ran immediately following the coin toss. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Nicely done, Ford.
  • Riddel: Not a household name, but probably the most visible brand throughout the game other than FOX. Most viewers would probably not even notice, but every helmet worn by the players featured ‘Riddel’ written smack dab in the front. Now that’s some hard-hitting brand placement.