Oh the drama! Super Ads go epic

NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl ads this year morphed into mini soap operas.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson shrugged off

aliens so he could get more milk for his kids in a Super Bowl spot for

the Milk Processor

Education Program. Anheuser-Busch's commercial told the story of a

baby Clydesdale growing up and returning to his owner for

a heartfelt hug years later. And a Jeep ad portrayed the trials

and triumphs of families waiting for their return of family


The reason for all the drama off the field?

With 30-second spots going for as much as $4 million this year and more

than 111

million viewers expected to tune in, marketers are constantly

looking for ways to make their ads stand out. And it's increasingly

difficult to captivate viewers with the cliche plots of babies,

celebrities, sex and humor that they've become almost immune

to — unless there's a story attached.

"A lot of advertisers are running long

commercials to tell these stories that engage people often in a very

emotional way,"

said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg

School of Management at Northwestern. "These spots that tell

stories really stand out in the clutter."


Chrysler started the long-format commercial trend last year, with a two-minute spot starring Clint Eastwood that became very


This year, Chrysler led the trend again with its two-minute salute to troops and their families. The ad featured Oprah Winfrey

reading a letter from the Jeep brand to encourage families to stay hopeful.

"Wendy Ochoa, a high school teacher who lives in Novi, Michigan, said the ad was very emotional. "It tugs on your heartstrings,

how can it not," Ochoa, 44, said.

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch pulled at heartstrings with a spot about a baby Clydesdale growing up and moving away from his farm

and his trainer. The horse remembered the trainer after returning for a parade, and raced to hug him.

"The Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale made me cry," said Wendy Ponzo, 49, who was watching the game in Pont Pleasant,

N.J. "I can relate to that."


Lincoln's 90-second ad was inspired by Tweets by fans about road trips sent to Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's "Late Night with

Jimmy Fallon."

The ad shows adventures during a fictional road trip. A woman picks up a German hitchhiker, and they go to an alpaca farm,

get stopped by turtles crossing the road, and drive through a movie set.

Rap pioneer Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons and Wil Wheaton, who acted in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," made cameos.

Audi's 60-second ad featured an ending that was voted on by viewers prior to the game. The ad showed a boy gaining confidence

from driving his father's Audi to the prom, kissing the prom queen and getting decked by the prom king.

The Audi mini-epic was a favorite of Super Bowl viewer Stephanie Bice, 39, a business development director in Oklahoma City.

"It was fun and whimsical," Bice said.


Not all of the storytelling ads were dramatic, though.

Samsung's two-minute ad showed Seth Rogen ("The Guilt Trip" and Paul Rudd ("Role Models") getting called in to do a "Next

Big Thing" ad for Samsung. But they're agitated once they realize that they're sharing the spotlight. LeBron James, an NBA

basketball player for the Miami Heat, makes a cameo, appearing on the screen of a tablet.

The ad won over some fans in the ad world.

"I could watch the Samsung ad over and over again," said David Berkowitz, vice president at digital marketing agency 360i.

"It's as good as any Seth Rogen movie."

Budweiser, a long-time Super Bowl

advertiser, also told mini-movies in its two of its ads. One showed

rival 49ers and Ravens

fans each creating a voodoo doll for the other team with the help

of R&B legend Stevie Wonder. In the other ad, fans go to

great lengths to curse a rival fan's "lucky chair."

"It's only weird if it doesn't work," reads the copy.

And Mercedes-Benz's 90-second ad had a Faustian plot.

A devilish Willem Dafoe ("Spider-Man") shows

a man everything that comes with a Mercedes-Benz CLX: A date with


Kate Upton, dancing with Usher, driving around with beautiful

girls, getting on the cover of magazines including Vanity Fair

and GQ, getting to drive on a racetrack.

He almost signs his soul away for the car. But then he sees a billboard that says the car starts at $29,900, and doesn't sign.


Although many advertisers tried to pull people in with lengthy story lines, there were a few that stuck with short, quirky

spots with no particular plot.

GoDaddy.com's spot was one of them. It showed a close up, extended kiss between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a nerdy guy wearing

glasses to illustrate GoDaddy's combo of "sexy" and "smart."

Best Buy's 30-second ad in the first quarter starred Amy Poehler, of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," asking a Best Buy employee

endless questions about electronics.

"Will this one read "50 shades of Grey to me in a sexy voice," Poehler asks about an e-book reader. When the staffer says

no she asks, "Will you?"

And Oreo's ad featured a showdown in a library between people fighting over whether the cookie or the cream is the best part

of the cookie.

The joke? The fight escalates into thrown chairs and other destruction, but because the fight is in a library, everyone still

has to whisper.