It’s Back – This Time in 3-D

Superbowl XLIII is charging down upon us. We are the worst recession since this annual rite of advertising with football obbligato began. Large advertisers are writing off assets, closing facilities, firing thousands, and reporting record losses. This has caused panic – and panicking executives are even more likely to do the familiar, including the familiar, which has never been shown to work.

In particular, major advertisers have agreed to pay up to $3 million for 30 seconds of air time during the game. Of course with production, not to mention the expense of senior staff “needing” to attend the game, the total cost can be substantially higher. So we’re starting to talk about real money for a marketing expense, whose value remains to be demonstrated. Rather than worrying about the niceties of ROI, PepsiCo and DreamWorks, will try to make their Superbowl ads more memorable, by presenting them in 3-D.

Those of us old enough to remember an earlier generation of 3-D movies and comic books also remember having to wear cardboard glasses, whose right and left lenses were of different colors. The movies tended to be horror movies and westerns, in which the monster or villain, though thought dead, somehow survived to appear in a sequel.

So much for progress, the funky cardboard glasses are back. No glasses – no 3-D. Pepsi is using its considerable retail distribution to try to get 125 million pairs available to the viewing public by game day glasses. The Wall St. Journal(1/23/09, B8) reports that the glasses alone will cost about $7 million. To PepsiCo’s and DreamWorks’ credit they have gotten Intel to pay this.

What Intel gets for this another remains to be seen, but kudos to the deal makers at Pepsi. This challenge has made the commercials themselves news and DreamWorks is even advertising the commercials. Dreamworks new 3-D feature Monsters and Aliens is a major product push. Thus the game gets prime real estate on its animation site (warning – visiting this link will shift your browser to full screen).

In case you didn’t find the glasses at your local supermarket, you can get some by calling Pepsi at 1-800-646-2904.Curiously, Pepsi does not invite consumers to order online. There was no promotion of the event either during the on-hold recording (background music) or when I spoke to an attendant, who indifferently took my shipping information. The promotion is not featured on Pepsi’s or Intel’s web sites.

What does this have to do with selling SoBe Lifewater or microprocessors? Perhaps this would be clearer seen through a pair of 3-D glasses.