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Kai Ryssdal: I'm no football purist, but I was decidedly in the minority at the Super Bowl gathering at my house yesterday. Every time I tried to fast forward through the commercials on the theory that -- gee, I dunno, let's watch the game, not the ads -- I was roundly shouted down by the crowd, which is why I know more about some of the ads than I'd care to, especially this one, for the carmaker Kia.
Marketplace's Rico Gagliano explains why it stood out.
RICO GAGLIANO: The ad features a group of children's dolls piled in the back seat of a Kia SUV. The toys come to life and party like rock stars. The message? A family car can still be fun. But much of the ad's appeal is the dolls themselves, several of which are available now at your local toy store. It's a product placement, within another product's ad.
MARISSA GLUCK: It's not unheard of.
That's Marissa Gluck, of Radar Research. She points out a popular MasterCard ad famously featured other company's mascots -- like Mr. Clean and Count Chocula. But while that ad appealed to baby boomer nostalgia, Gluck says the Kia ad tries to hook a broader audience by including old-school icons like a sock monkey and a new-school character from the Nickelodeon cartoon "Yo Gabba Gabba!"
GLUCK: I think they're hoping that there's a bit of a reflected glow from those brand icons. "Yo Gabba Gabba!" has a pretty strong 20-something, 30-something following, not just young parents.
So Kia gets the reflected brand glow. But what's in it for those other brands? Wildbrain, the company that produces "Yo Gabba Gabba!," says they got a licensing payment from Kia.
But for Susan Pritchett, Super Bowl exposure was payment enough. Pritchett's the co-founder of a little dollmaking company called Blabla. Kia featured their moplike "Mr. X" doll in the ad.
SUSAN PRITCHETT: They didn't license. We just were glad for the opportunity to be seen and our doll to be seen by 100 million people or more.
So far, Blabla's seen only a small sales bump. But...
PRITCHETT: We expect it to have a huge effect in people knowing our brand more.
GAGLIANO: With the help of reporters like me, no doubt.
PRITCHETT: With reporters like you, yes.
Just fulfilling my role in the Super Bowl ad ecosystem, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.