Super Bowl ad watchers will find at least two businesses with a Baltimore presence among the national commercials for beer, cars and snack food.
Both M&T Bank and Baltimore Equitable Insurance — the city’s oldest company — will launch campaigns during Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
The Buffalo, N.Y.-based bank, which has its name on the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium, will unveil the latest chapter in the “Understanding What’s Important” campaign it has run since 2015, featuring stories of its business customers.
The 30-second spot features Vision Technologies, a Baltimore-based technology company that says it has grown from five people to 500 with the help of its lender.
It will air regionally, in Baltimore, Buffalo and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, part of M&T’s at least five-year run of showing ads during the big game.
“The Super Bowl provides an opportunity to launch our new campaign with a little bit of a bang and have a lot of people see it and have attention on these stories that we’re very proud of,” said Betsey Locke, an M&T senior vice president and director of brand and advertising. “It’s still an opportunity when people are watching live television.”
Baltimore Equitable will air its first-ever ad on TV during the game to mark a major February milestone — the homeowner insurance company’s 225th anniversary. The Baltimore firm is the second oldest insurance company in the U.S.
“Yes, it’s hard to believe that we have been around since 1794, especially since most people have never even heard of us,” said Mary Harlee, CEO, president and treasurer, in an announcement. “We have always been located in downtown Baltimore and in our 225 years of existence have been in just four offices within a one-mile radius.”
Baltimore Equitable, first known as the Baltimore Equitable Society, was started by a group of citizens to insure houses from loss by fire and patterned after Benjamin Franklin’s insurance company, offering no premiums or rate increases and money back when policyholders no longer need coverage.
The insurer’s ad will air locally during the game, on WJZ, then after the game on WJZ and WBAL TV as well as nationally on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
M&T’s Super Bowl ad is part of a campaign of eight commercials showcasing the lender’s customers. Five will focus on Baltimore businesses and a city school, to be shown throughout the year across seven states on television, in print and on social media.
Besides Vision Technologies, the audio visual provider for M&T Bank Stadium, ads feature Hydes-based Boordy Vineyards, which started as a small farm; The Charmery, an expanding hand-crafted ice cream shop run by a husband and wife; Caitec, a Halethorpe maker of pet products started by a Chinese immigrant; and the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a public charter school founded in 2009.
“The customers that we chose to highlight were chosen because their stories reflect the way we were able to make a positive impact on their success,” Locke said. “They tell our story better than we could tell it.”
Super Bowl viewers have come to expect to be entertained during commercial breaks and are likely to stick around rather than avoid ads, said Hank Boyd, a clinical professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Humorous ads often work well, he said, but the best commercials tend to tell a story, inspire and get people talking, instead of lecturing about a product.
“Every now and then, they can do something remarkable and inspiring,” Boyd said. “Those are rare, but advertisers shoot for them.”
One of the best examples, he believes, was Coca-Cola’s 1979 "Mean" Joe Greene spot, depicting a scene between the iconic football player and a kid.
“Over the years, it’s something that sticks with you,” Boyd said.
M&T did not disclose the cost of its 30-second spot. National advertisers typically pay around $5 million for those 30 seconds during an event known as much for the ads as the on-field competition.
During last year’s Super Bowl, T-Mobile was the big winner in social media engagement, according to 4C, a data and technology marketing company. Audience engagement for the wireless provider skyrocketed in the five minutes after the airing of #LittleOnes, a diversity themed-commercial featuring babies of varying ethnicities and Nirvana’s “All Apologies” as a lullaby, the marketing company said.