Luke Wilson will star in an ad for Colgate Total in the Super Bowl, marking the first time the company will advertise its flagship toothpaste brand in the game.
“It’s not an insignificant decision,” says Scott Campbell, general manager of integrated marketing communications for Colgate North America. “It’s a big ticket.”
How big he won’t say. “On pain of death,” he tells USA Today Sports, “I can’t tell you exactly what we’re spending.”
Super Bowl ads are going somewhere in the range of $5.1 million to $5.3 million for 30 seconds, but that’s just the cost for buying the time. There are also production costs and talent costs plus costs for ancillary campaigns on social media.
The ad “is one part of a broader campaign,” Campbell says. “You might imagine that this is a significant effort and our biggest launch of our biggest product since its inception many years ago. So it is a significant investment for us, certainly.”
What goes into a decision to advertise a brand on the Super Bowl for the first time? (Colgate Palmolive previously ran an ad for Speed Stick deodorant in 2013’s game and Colgate ran an ad urging consumers to save water by turning off the tap while brushing their teeth during 2016’s game.)
“So here are the things that went into our deliberations,” Campbell says. “First and foremost was the timing.”
He says the Super Bowl coincided with the relaunch of a product being touted as newly improved. Second, he says, is the scale of the Super Bowl, with more than 100 million viewers watching an event live — and many of them watching for the ads.
“So this offers a unique one-night opportunity to get such scale that doesn’t exist much anymore,” Campbell says, adding that the company experienced a bump in sales after its save-water message in 2016.
“We experienced a lift in sales across the franchise that was not explainable by any other means than the extraordinary kind of scale” offered by the Super Bowl, he says. “There was a ton of PR on our message that year because it was so different, the save-water thing. It wasn’t a product to sell. It wasn’t humorous. It was very much zig to the Super Bowl zag.”
This one is more of the traditional Super Bowl zag — promoting a product with celebrity and humor. The 30-second spot will run during the second commercial break of the third quarter. The ad was shot in cinematic reality, the company says, with hyper-realistic, film-quality detail.
“Luke Wilson is very popular in America as that kind of guy-next-door character,” Campbell says of the actor who has appeared in movies such as “Old School” and “Legally Blonde.” The tagline is: “Do More for Your Mouth.”
Campbell says advertising in the Super Bowl isn’t right for every brand or every circumstance.
“It’s a big serious decision that requires a lot of analytical rigor,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest thing, that there’s an analytical rigor to making the decision that it’s right for your particular brand at that particular time.”