Skin in the game
To:Brew Readers
Marketing Brew // Morning Brew // Update
How CeraVe pulled off that Super Bowl campaign.
February 12, 2024

Marketing Brew


It’s Monday. That Usher concert last night was really something! And lucky for you, you can join us at our free webinar TOMORROW to learn all about what insights into customer behavior the latest e-commerce data reveals.

In today’s edition:

—Katie Hicks, Alyssa Meyers, Jasmine Sheena


Slick move

Michael Cera holds up a container of CeraVe lotion Screenshot via CeraVe/YouTube

It all started with a bag of lotion.

Or two, actually. When Michael Cera was photographed walking down the street with a bunch of CeraVe skin-care products in hand last month, people immediately asked, “Why?

That same day, creator Haley Kalil posted a video of Cera at a pharmacy, where he was writing his first name on bottles of CeraVe. (Michael Cera..Ve. Get it?) Then influencers started posting gift boxes with Cera’s face on them, and creator and podcaster Bobbi Althoff interviewed Cera, during which he walked off set when asked whether he was behind the brand.

CeraVe “set the record straight” in an Instagram post, denying claims of Cera’s involvement, and some influencers posted paid apology videos to clear up any confusion around whether Cera created CeraVe. Creator Caleb Simpson then posted a “tour” of Cera’s trailer, which was filled with skin-care products, and dermatologist Dr. Shah posted a TikTok “confronting” Cera about his skin-care expertise.

Last week, a website featuring Cera and the tagline “Human skin is his passion” rolled out, as did a teaser video for what some people correctly predicted to be CeraVe’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial.

“Before you go into these disruptive marketing campaigns, you never know whether they’re gonna be a hit or not,” Melanie Vidal, global brand manager for CeraVe at L’Oréal, told Marketing Brew. “Our ambition for the Super Bowl campaign was really to create a first-of-its-kind, disruptive campaign that invites everyone to participate in a story we’re creating where, to your point, you create a sort of fake-news phase, then you have a debunking phase, and then you have the revelation phase. It’s a three-phase campaign.”

Ahead of the game, we spoke with Vidal about the strategy behind the campaign and its faux-organic lead-up.

Read more of our conversation here.—KH



Meet the NFL’s branding champs


As newly crowned Super Bowl winners, the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t just the GOAT when it comes to building a professional football team. They’ve also created a full-fledged entertainment brand that’s an absolute powerhouse. So, who helped ‘em put it through the uprights?

Frontify, the best-in-class brand management platform.

The Chiefs used Frontify to build a fully customized brand center that organizes all of their brand assets. The result? All stakeholders can access the assets they need without having to ping the brand team to locate assets.

Dying to see how this one ends? Frontify put it all together in a case study showcasing how the Chiefs used the platform for simple asset organization, streamlined partner collaboration, and increased brand ownership.

Get the study and score some touchdowns.


Gear shift

Volkswagen's 2024 Super Bowl ad Volkswagen

In 2011, Volkswagen aired one of the most memorable ads in modern Super Bowl history: “The Force,” where a child donning a Darth Vader costume is convinced of the powers of the dark side. Time Magazine said it “changed Super Bowl commercials forever,” and as of 2015, it was the most shared Super Bowl ad ever, according to USA Today.

A couple years after that ad ran, the German automaker vanished from the national Super Bowl stage for a decade—until Sunday’s game, when Volkswagen, like Palpatine, returned, becoming one of the relatively few car brands slated to advertise in the game this year.

Why the hiatus? It just hadn’t felt natural to do another national Super Bowl campaign until now, according to Rachael Zaluzec, SVP of customer experience and brand marketing for Volkswagen of America. This year, that changed: The ad, called “An American Love Story,” is timed around the brand’s 75th anniversary in the US, along with the release of a couple of new models.

“You only go to the stage if you’ve got something to say, and we have a lot of things to say this year,” Zaluzec told Marketing Brew.

Throwback: Volkswagen started discussing this year’s commercial more than six months ago, according to Zaluzec. Creative concepting for the spot started around mid-September, although the buy wasn’t confirmed internally until Q4, Zaluzec said.

A two-minute cut, set to the reprise of Neil Diamond’s “I Am… I Said,” features a montage of scenes showing Volkswagens throughout American history—including references to Woodstock, scenes from the Herbie movie franchise, and the iconic “punch buggy” scene from The Simpsons. There’s even a callback to “The Force” (both ads were directed by Lance Acord). It’s all very nostalgic.

The ad is meant to “ignite the love for the brand,” said Jonathan Santana, ECD at the WPP-owned creative agency Johannes Leonardo that worked on the spot. It’s also designed to put Volkswagen owners “at the epicenter of our messaging strategy,” Zaluzec said. A shorter 60-second version aired during the third quarter of the game.

Continue reading here.—AM



Primed and ready

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher and Willa Fitzgerald as Roscoe Conklin appear in the Amazon Prime Video original series Reacher Keri Anderson/Amazon Studios

Amazon has officially rolled out ads on Prime Video, and plenty of brands are already jumping on board.

The ad tier, which rolled out Jan. 29 to Prime subscribers in the US, means that existing Prime Video viewers will automatically watch with ads, unless they opt to pay $2.99 more per month to watch ad-free. Delia Marshall, president of the WPP agency Eicoff, previously told Marketing Brew that the ad inventory and targeting opportunities on the new tier are “music to the ears” of advertisers.

We took the liberty of watching TV during work to *investigate* which brands, exactly, are advertising on the new offering.

  • In the first week that Amazon Prime Video with ads was live, we spotted pre-roll and mid-roll advertisements for brands including Chewy, Sparkling Ice, New Balance, Samsung, Tinder, and Zipcar running on episodes of Reacher, Downton Abbey, Modern Love, and Expats, as well as the movies Asteroid City and Red, White, and Royal Blue.

In most episodes, we spotted only one or two ads. On average, the ads we saw totaled almost a minute per hour of programming. Amazon has previously said that its ad tier would have “meaningfully fewer” ads than those of some of its streaming competitors.

Keep reading here.—JS



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football play illustrations on billboards on buildings Francis Scialabba

Executive moves across the industry.

  • Jodie Blake is the new CMO of luxury shoe brand Manolo Blahnik.
  • Nelly Kennedy is exiting her position as Volkswagen’s global CMO.
  • Jennifer Ross was named fractional CMO and executive director of B2B MaaS shop 2X’s strategy and consulting practice.


French Press Morning Brew

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Good sport: How influencers factor into Super Bowl marketing campaigns, according to Digiday.

Listen up: A Google exec spoke to Hubspot about using first-party data and staying agile in the ongoing shift away from cookies.

Square one: Speaking of cookies, here’s how Dotdash Meredith, the parent company of publications like Entertainment Weekly and Investopedia, is encouraging ad partners to pivot from third-party cookies.

Touchdown tactics: Wanna learn how the Kansas City Chiefs became the go-to team in the NFL when it comes to branding? Frontify’s new case study has the deets. Give it a read.*

*A message from our sponsor.


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