Fox Assembled Its Biggest Prime-Time Stars for a Trio of Super Bowl Promos

Network shows off its talent for the game's 110-million-plus audience

Fox tapped the stars of its shows like Empire, New Girl, Lethal Weapon and 24: Legacy to shoot several Super Bowl spots. Fox
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It takes nothing short of the year’s biggest television event for Fox to bring its stars together for a single campaign. So the network assembled its biggest stars last summer to record promos for Super Bowl LI on Sunday.

“The Super Bowl is obviously a platform to talk about our great partners on Fox Sports, but it’s also an opportunity to expose the world to our talent, both as characters and as people in the world,” said Angela Courtin, Fox Broadcasting evp and CMO.

The network’s Super Bowl branding campaign yielded three separate promos, which began airing last month. After two high-energy spots, Fox is taking a quieter approach for the campaign’s third and final promo, “Togetherness (Soon).”

“It’s about what the Super Bowl means. It is a game, and it is the biggest vehicle for commercials, but it’s also a place to think about this idea of 100 million people—more than any other event in television—coming together to watch a single game. So we wanted to take advantage of that, not in a saccharine way, but in a thoughtful way to talk about the importance of that,” said Courtin.

Here, for the first time, is that “Togetherness (Soon)” promo, which Fox is making available for its affiliates to run during their own time, and across social platforms.

The campaign’s earlier two spots were more celebratory. On Jan. 16, Fox began airing its “Celebration Tank” promos, in which its prime-time stars (including the animated ones) danced and touted the upcoming Super Bowl.

Last week, Fox sent its affiliates this “Tailgate” spot, featuring the casts of New Girl, Empire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth. “It’s as if Fox talent threw a tailgate party. And that’s really fun, because it hearkens back to this idea that there is a brand of the network, and our talent really do share a DNA that is really bold,” said Courtin.

As for the game itself, with more than 110 million viewers watching Super Bowl LI on its network Sunday, Fox is preparing a slate of in-game promos that the network hopes will convince those viewers to stick around for its other shows.

“The Super Bowl is one of the great events of the broadcast season, and it really differentiates broadcast from any other platform. It is the only place you can aggregate that number of viewers, all sharing the same experience at the same time. That many eyeballs watching one show is pretty extraordinary. And again, it’s unique to broadcast. So it’s always great when it’s our turn,” said Dana Walden, co-CEO and co-chairman, Fox Broadcasting Group.

Fox is currently tied with CBS for second place in the adults 18-49 demo this season among broadcasters, with a 2.0 rating. While the Super Bowl itself will catapult the network ahead of CBS in the demo race (NBC is well in front with a 2.5), Fox is looking for its midseason shows, including 24: Legacy and its revival of Prison Break, to keep that momentum going for the rest of the season.

Fox’s top priority during the game will be relaunching its 24 franchise, with 24: Legacy premiering after the game. But the network will also run promos during the Super Bowl for other upcoming shows like its Prison Break revival. “We’ll have some really special spots for our bigger shows launching, and some for our shows on-air that are fan favorites,” said Courtin.

The key element in crafting Fox’s Super Bowl promos, said Courtin, is making sure the creative can compete with the Super Bowl ads that brands are paying almost $5 million per spot to air. “We know that our clients will spend millions of dollars creating the spot, and paying for it. So we wanted to make sure that, whatever shows that we chose, we could also tell a story that would break through, and stand among the best of the best,” said Courtin.

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@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.