Buick Super Bowl ad with Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr sticks to proven formula

The carmaker plays an "if/then" game with its second film in the Big Game.

In 2014, Leo Burnett launched the "That’s not a Buick" campaign for the General Motors brand, and since then, a few things have changed. For example, Leo Burnett Detroit and DigitasLBi Detroit merged into Engage M-1, and a lot more people started buying Buicks.

Last year, the brand had its best year since 2005, thanks largely to sales in China. But Buick US revenues were also up 5 percent in 2016. Plus, it doesn’t hurt your cool factor when celebrities like Max Greenfield and Ellie Kemper appear in your ads.

But don’t expect the marketer to switch things up now that its image problem has eased. In its second Super Bowl commercial, titled "Pee Wee," Buick will do the same thing as last year, just a little different.

There’s a football player, but this time, it’s Cam Newton instead of Odell Beckham Jr. There’s also a supermodel; sub in Miranda Kerr from 2016’s Emily Ratajkowski. The featured car is the same Cascada convertible from last year’s Super Bowl commercial; only this year, it’s in a new, race-car red hue. And, most importantly, no one can believe the car is a Buick. Only this time, the dialogue extends to say, "If that’s a Buick, then my kid is Cam Newton."

"We’ve really found a sweet spot with this campaign," said Buick’s Director of Marketing Molly Peck. "It’s not wearing out at all."

Anecdotally, Peck said people approach her regularly to tell her they’ve had a "Buick moment." When they get into a friend’s car or see a Buick on the street, they automatically expect the brand to be anything but that. "What we’re saying to the consumer is, ‘Hey, we know what you’re thinking, but we’re OK with it, and come check out what we actually do make today,’" Peck added.

This self-deprecating humor isn’t the only formula that Buick and Engage-M1 have perfected. The football player/supermodel casting choice is also a win-win. "It really helps broaden the appeal of the ad," Peck said. "The football player is perfect for our sports-minded audience. The supermodel is perfect for the more general market audience, and with the Super Bowl, you get both."

But when asked why not Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will be playing in Sunday’s game, and his supermodel wife Gisele, Peck said that "Cam and Miranda naturally rose to the top of the list" because they embody Buick’s brand values: "friendly, approachable, masters of their craft and smart." Plus, Newton wasn’t suspended for four games after "Deflategate."

"Every time I take the field, I aim to shatter traditional expectations of the quarterback position," said Newton in a press release. "Buick’s doing the same thing with this ad."

Off the field, consumers can watch "purpose-built content" on Buick’s social media channels leading up to the game and during the game. Peck said Buick will have a social media command center filled with people from its ad agency, copywriters and General Motors’ social media team listening to the conversation and "responding with as many people as possible."

On-screen, the 60-second ad will appear nationally during the first quarter of Super Bowl LI.

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