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Ad exec on Super Bowl: 'Brands are finally getting the message that diversity works'

Technicolor Creative Studios President of Advertising Josh Mandel joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company's Super Bowl ads.

Video Transcript

KARINA MITCHELL: While the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals went toe to toe during the Super Bowl, the competition was fierce off the field as well, however, as advertisers looked to score. Here to help us discuss is Josh Mandel, Technicolor Creative Studios president of advertising.

Josh, thanks so much for being here. So you had a big night yesterday. You had 29 ads that actually aired during the game. And then you had some advertising, you know, surrounding the game as well. A lot of the ads are getting some really positive buzz today, like the Rocket Mortgage ad with Anna Kendrick and the Amazon ad as well. I'm just wondering the day after, how do you feel about all of the positive reaction after all of the work that you put into putting these things together?

JOSH MANDEL: Yeah, well, you know, we're breathing a big sigh of relief after all of the work, obviously, going into the game. It's always nice to see your babies come to life in a big platform like this. And certainly, when some of the ads are getting the buzz that they're getting, it's been a lot of fun.

KARINA MITCHELL: And then, Josh, you know, the ad-- the rates for them are going up and up. $6 and 1/2 million was the average price this year. Some companies paying even more than that, paying $7 million. So the pressure is really on to get it just right. So talk us through your process. At what point do you guys come into the picture? I know you do all of the visual effects and things like that for the ads' post-production work.

Talk about the process about when you come in and how do you take it over the finish line. And then talk about some of the ads that presented some sort of creative challenges this year, extra challenges, or that required a bigger time commitment. I know for example, the Pepsi halftime teaser was intense. There must have been a lot of work that went into that.

JOSH MANDEL: Yeah, traditionally, we come in at the tail end of the process. So an advertising agency will pitch a big idea to a brand. The brand will buy off on it. They'll find a production company to go off and do the shoot. We will participate in the shoot in order to make sure that we're getting the right shots to be able to do the effects work that we do. So, you know, we're coming in at the tail end to kind of bring the magic and bring the ideas to life.

You've got the Pepsi spot showing right there. That was a three-minute teaser for the halftime show with an awful lot. You can see in this rap battle right here with Eminem with his younger self. We were doing all of that work with the words and the imagery, a lot of the color that shows up in the spot as you go on. So that was an awful lot of work, an awful lot of hours, especially because that one had to hit before the Super Bowl in order to tease the halftime show.

But the projects will last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month to six weeks, depending upon the ambition of the brand, how they want to show up in the game. You know, there's a difference between doing an ad on the Super Bowl versus doing a Super Bowl ad. And I think we see the difference in those brands that have really invested in wanting to own the moment.

KARINA MITCHELL: And then, Josh, just tell me, did you work on more ads this year compared to previous years? And then are companies spending as much on those ads? Because we've heard from social media companies like Meta, saying that advertisers could be pulling back because they're dealing with their own inflationary pressures as well. Is that something you're seeing? And then have your own costs gone up at all?

JOSH MANDEL: Yeah, well, I mean, you covered the media costs there at $6.5 million. So I think brands who are showing up at the Super Bowl are making the investment because they know it's one of the last-- we call them a cultural campfire moment. It's one of the last times, I think, in terms of our media landscape, where people are showing up across demographics, across race, across gender. So brands really want to take advantage of that moment. And they're investing in the work. More generally speaking, marketing in general, I think they're being savvier about how they spend their money and where their ads show up.

The digital landscape creates a lot of opportunities for brands. TV isn't the only place where they can show up anymore. There's a lot of different places they can. But at the end of the day, as we see it, the Super Bowl, creativity really is the force multiplier for these companies. The creativity is the thing that breaks through. So I think we've seen, if you look at the top five, Rocket Mortgage, Amazon, the brands that invested in the Super Bowl see the rewards for that.

KARINA MITCHELL: And then I'm wondering, you've worked on so many different types of ads. Are you surprised by the variety of companies that are now advertising and the diversity that you see, you know, in each of these-- in each of those ads? I was so happy to see South Asian representation, which doesn't happen very often. So that was something that I liked. And then what are some of the other trends that you saw? There were a lot of celebrities in the ads this year, a lot of cars as well.

JOSH MANDEL: Yeah, I think even going to the actual game itself, the overt effort towards inclusion, I think, was really-- it's a long time coming, frankly. And I think you're starting to see that the brands are finally getting the message that diversity works. So that was a really good positive thing in terms of an overall trend.

I think the other thing that we saw is just the ubiquity of technology in our lives. We saw everything from home technology like Alexa, all the way down to 5G internet service, to actually software as a service platforms were advertised on the Super Bowl. So I think that's a huge trend. And yes, you're right. I mean, the Super Bowl used to be dominated by beer and automotive. And I think we saw a lot more brands across a lot of different industries showing up this year.

KARINA MITCHELL: It was definitely a creative mix. And congratulations to all of your hard work. It all paid off. All right, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much for your time today, Josh Mandel, Technicolor Creative Studios president of advertising.