Super Bowl Spots: Who Needs An Ad Agency?

It’s beginning to look like advertising’s biggest night will resemble amateur hour.

The National Football League last week became the third advertiser to say it would tap the creativity of the crowd to help craft a spot to air during TV’s most-watched (and most-expensive) telecast, the Super Bowl. It joins Doritos and Chevrolet in jumping on the user-generated bandwagon for this year’s game, long the showcase of the industry’s best work.

Should agencies worry?

Not really, said Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Brands are looking to extend the life of their investments—a 30-second spot on Super Bowl XLI is expected to cost over $2.5 million—by running promotions in the months leading up to the game. And in a world gone gaga for YouTube, the free PR doesn’t hurt.

“This is an event where there’s massive competition for attention,” he said. “It’s a promising strategy to see whether the consumer concepts might actually achieve a greater breakthrough.”

Like Chevrolet, the NFL is limiting consumer participation to conceiving an idea for the spot, which will then be directed by Joe Pytka, a veteran of 5,000 commercials and 40 Super Bowl spots. Chevrolet is turning to college students to sketch its spot’s concept, but Interpublic’s Campbell-Ewald will handle the execution. Doritos, however, is going whole hog, promising to run a user video, although it expects to draw submissions from skilled creatives.

“It’s not the beginning of the end for ad agencies,” said Jamie Barrett, cd at Dorito’s shop Goodby, Silverstein and Partners. “I just see it as yet another way to play with this thing we call advertising.”