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Some Super Bowl advertisers return after hiatus

2:01 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will appear in a Subway ad. (Photo: File)
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They're in. They're out. They're in.

That's how some marketers - sometimes called Super Bowl rebounders -- treat the Super Bowl. One year they're in, the next, out. Then, back again. Usually with good reason.

Which is why Subway, on Wednesday, will announce that it's back in the Super Bowl after years away. Its brand image spots will highlight an anniversary of some significance for the sub giant: Jared's 15th year as Subway spokesman. In the spot, 14 Subway athletes -- including superstar Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III -- will congratulate Jared for keeping off the weight he lost eating low-cal offerings at Subway.

Also back in 2013 after some years away: Taco Bell and Tide laundry detergent, both with new tales to tell.

"You can't get 110 million people" anywhere else, says Tony Pace, Subway chief marketing officer, of the Super Bowl's TV viewers. "That's an audience we can't ignore."

The key isn't how often a brand is in the Super Bowl, but what it says when it is, says brand guru Peter Madden. "If you're going to the mat creatively, it shouldn't matter if this is your first Super Bowl ever - or first Super Bowl in five years."

For Subway, it could be a way to deflect consumer attention from recent reports about some of its foot-long subs only measuring 11 inches in some stores. (Some others, however, were 13 inches). "We're redoubling our efforts to ensure we have the proper length," says Pace.

But Pace insists that the driver for returning to the Big Game for the first time since 2005 is to remind folks of Jared's feat: keeping off 200 pounds he lost for 15 years. "Everyone does before-and-after weight-loss shots," says Pace. "But it's hard to keep it off for an extended period."

The campaign will continue through 2013, with other Subway celebrities, including Michael Phelps, offering high-fives to Jared.

Also returning to The Big Game:

-- Taco Bell. Like Subway, the chain isn't pitching a new product on the Super Bowl, but a brand image evolution. "We're in the midst of transforming the brand from food as fuel to food as experience," says marketing chief Brian Niccol. Its ad features a Cocoon-like group of old folks who celebrate a night of youthful inspiration that ends up at Taco Bell.

-- Tide. During the economic downturn, the P&G detergent lost some market share to lower-price store brands. For the first time since 2008, the brand is back in the game. "Since the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the National Football League, it makes sense for us to show up," says Chris Lillich, associate marketing director for North American laundry at Procter & Gamble.

Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY

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