These Honda Dealers Are Getting Set to Troll Every Super Bowl LI Ad Cliché So Hard

$5,000 per hipster sighting

The Southern California Honda Dealers does not have $5 million sitting around to spend on a national ad in Super Bowl LI. Hell, they’re not even going to bother running a regional spot on the game.

Instead, the group will score attention the new-fashioned way—by trolling every brand rich enough to buy a Super Bowl Sunday spot by pointing out the inevitable clichés they’ll use to sell their products.

Each cliché is worth a dollar figure, which the dealers, with help from agency Secret Weapon, will donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

On the night of the game, the group will take over a local Boys & Girls Club, with kids calling out all the tropes. The event will also be livestreaming at HelpfulBowl.com. Puppies? They’re worth $20,000.

Emojis are a little less valuable, at $10,000.

Cheapskate hipsters, predictably, bring in only $5,000.

Now, how much for a #puppymonkeybaby?

The dealer group has long depicted itself as helpful, and this year it’s encouraging viewers at home to participate by partnering with 100-plus local pizza shops to include a game board on the bottom of their boxes.

“We are honored that the SoCal Honda Dealers chose the Boys & Girls Clubs in Southern California as the beneficiary of the Random Act of Helpfulness campaign,” says Kelly Reynolds, vp Pacific West at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “One of the highlights of the Big Game is watching the ads, and this year they will have extra special importance to us.”

Here is Secret Weapon founder, creative director and 30-plus-year agency veteran Rick Sittig explaining how it all works.

AdFreak spoke to Sittig about the effort.

AdFreak: How did you come up with this idea?
Southern California Honda Dealers [SCHD] doesn’t have the budget to commit the kind of money to out-spectacle a national advertiser, so we don’t try. Last year we did the Uber rides. This year, we had the audacious thought that maybe little SCHD had found a way to own the entire Super Bowl broadcast without being in it—by using everyone else’s production money to our advantage. It’s like a parlor game; have a drink whenever you see a cliché.

This isn’t the first time a brand has “trolled” the Super Bowl without paying for an ad placement. Volvo and Newcastle both did it in 2015.
I think this is more participatory. We’re not just making a snarky comment on everyone else’s ads for a good cause, and it’s not just an attention-getting device. But for the duration of the game, we hope people look at the ads and think, “That’s 5 grand!”

What’s with the sliding scale of cliché values?
Well, our client doesn’t have an unlimited bank account, and we didn’t want to end up owing $20 million. So we watched a full broadcast of the last two Super Bowls and got an idea of the kinds of clichés that were used and counted them. Then based on that, we assigned dollar values to them … so the donations would be generous but not ridiculous.

What led you to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs?
We were looking for a worthy charity in Southern California that’s not polarizing, and everybody wants to support kids who need help. The Boys & Girls Clubs seemed like a good choice, and their facilities also made sense. The Honda dealers are putting up the vast majority of the money. There’s also a bonus secret cliché that’s worth 20 grand.

Ad creatives have a reputation for being cynical. Did that inspire this project?
The ad community can be pretty jaded, and we know this. But we’re not really commenting on the quality of the commercials, we’re just identifying things. It’s a few degrees away from the insular industry talk that happens at people’s houses.