By Barry Janoff
November 27, 2015: Marketing efforts during Thanksgiving Day weekend were not just about Black Friday, 2 AM discounts at Big Box retailers and food companies offering products to enhance turkey leftovers (and leftovers of leftovers).
TV viewers also saw high-profile movie trailers, a spoiler-alert spot for the Super Bowl 50 Pepsi Halftime Show, Verizon putting a spin on delayed flights, Nationwide getting Peyton Manning to sing about turkey legs and comedian Rob Riggle dressed as Dee Snyder of big in the 1980s rock band Twister Sister covering Bon Jovi for Fox Sports.
On Thanksgiving Day, the NFL played three games, which, much to the delight of companies that made commercial buys, combined to average 28.6 million viewers, the highest three-game audience on Thanksgiving, according to the NFL.
But the league received a lot of reaction from non-football fans due to a "Spoiler Alert" spot that teased more than it spoiled. The spot indicated that the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show during Super Bowl 50 (CBS, Feb. 7, 2016) could possibly feature the biggest music roster in Super Bowl history, "honoring the past, recognizing the present and looking ahead to the next 50 years."
The spot also revealed that one of the of stars scheduled to perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show "would be revealed" during the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game on CBS and NFL Network on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Anticipation also came via several Hollywood trailers, with the Big Daddy being a new clip-fest for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits theaters Dec. 18.
Viewers also saw clips for Captain America: Civil War (May 2016), the animated The Secret Life of Pets (July 2016) and Concussion (Dec. 25), which had several airings during NFL games. The latter was an interesting media buy as it stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who played a major role in taking the NFL to the public by tying brain damage to football players who had suffered repeated concussions during games.
Peyton Manning was featured in three 15-second spots for Nationwide, in which he continued the theme from previous commercials in which he sings the insurance company's commercial jingle ("Nationwide is on your side") in different scenarios. In "Turkey Leg," before sitting down to dinner, he chimes, "Turkey leg you taste so good." In the next, having finished another portion of food, and with indigestion coming on, he offers, "Seconds were a bad idea." Finally, laying down on a couch, he sings to the Nationwide tune, "Think I'm gonna take a nap," before drifting off.
Verizon offered a spot called "Home," in which people who are trying to get home for the holidays are faced with the challenges of delayed flights, long waits, snow storms and icy roads. The telecom's words of wisdom: "This time of year, having a network you can rely on matters more than ever — until you're finally home with loved ones, and it doesn’t matter at all."
Perhaps the most eclectic showing of all came prior to the NFL game on Fox between the Philadelphia Eagles and hometown Detroit Lions, which pitted teams with a combined 7-13 record. Fox Sports spokesman/comedian/actor Rob Riggle, who has been doing irreverent pre-game spots all season, here showed up dressed like Dee Snyder fronting a band and singers who covered Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive."
Riggle's version, "Like It Or Not," included digs at the anticipated low-expectations for the game (the Lions won, 45-14); and the mental status of Jerry Jones, the 73-year-old owner of the 3-7 Dallas Cowboys, who would play at home in the second game on Thanksgiving Day (on CBS, losing 33-14 to the Carolina Panthers). Riggle as Snyder crooned, "He owns the Cowboys/Unless he's so old he forgot/Today he's watching them/Like It Or Not."
Riggle also took a mild swipe at the offensive coordinator for the Lions — "Happy Thanksgiving Jim Bob Cooter and everyone with a less funny name" — before justifying the NFL's presence on TV throughout the day: "I guess these same old games/Still beat no games at all."
Riggle also accurately predicted events that would take place during the then as-yet-to-be-played NFL games: "I'm sure the QBs will throw some picks/and get turnovers on downs. It's lucky Jerry Jones' face looks more realistic when it frowns." (See the full spot here.)
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw three interceptions and was taken out of the game in the third quarter when he reinsured his left collarbone — which forced him to miss seven games this season — an injury diagnosed the next day as a fracture that would keep him off the field for the remainder of the season.
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