Element 79’s Super Bowl Quickie

Super Bowl spots take months to create. Or not.
According to Lewis Lazare, Chicago’s Element 79 put one together in a hurry for their client Frito-Lay. Creative Director, Phil Gant, at the agency all of a week, went to Chief Creative Officer, Dennis Ryan, with his pitch a mere eight days prior to the game.

Gant, who had been chief creative officer at BBDO/Chicago, wanted to do a commercial showing groups of people in different settings watching the game. As the commercial progressed, we would see that all the people were African Americans. A message would appear on screen asking “Who’s winning?,” followed by the answer “We all are,” before a final reminder to “Enjoy the game.”
Ryan was immediately taken with the concept. Within an hour, Ryan had sold the spot to Element 79 client Frito-Lay. That left Gant just days — about four, give or take — to get the spot made and approved by Frito-Lay, CBS and the NFL.

Of course, the spot isn’t going to collect any trophies in the south of France. The Coca-Cola Black History Month spot was called “painfully contrived and expected” by one informed observer. Yet, I prefer that execution over the one above. Still, it is a wonder that Element 79 moved as fast as they did.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I’m not surprised at all. The best projects usually happen this way. And I agree: It’s simple, but it’s good and it kind of works.

  2. This spot is very different than the Coke spot. For starters, it may garner different reactions from different audiences. The Frito Lay spot probably resonates more strongly with any Black folks who felt a heightened sense of pride (?) because the two coaches were making history. It’s similar to reactions to the Williams sisters’ tennis championships. Everyone enjoyed and marveled at their accomplishments; but many Black folks had heightened enthusiasm because of the historical significance. The Coke spot actually plays to a broader audience (despite the fact that people familiar with Black History Month messages may find it familiar — or painfully contrived and expected). That may be one reason why you liked it better than the Frito Lay spot, David. Everyone “gets it” with the Coke spot. The big idea in the Frito Lay spot is somewhat subtle, and some could argue there’s not much of a big idea. It’s always tricky to produce vignette spots where all the main characters are Black — it often feels forced or peculiar. It may have also suffered from the production timeline. It’s tough to pit a spot produced in a few weeks against a sea of big budget-big idea extravaganzas. But you have to salute the guys for trying, I guess.

  3. skyview satellite says:

    All of which is exactly why The Wire is the best show ever broadcast on American television.