The anticipation of which team will be victorious in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl is almost always equal to the anticipation of which commercial will be the best.
Last year, Super Bowl XLIX brought in an average of 111.5 million viewers making it the most watched event in American television history, according to research done by Nielsen. With such high viewership, Super Bowl Sunday commercial spots are highly coveted, both nationally and regionally.
Known for its commercials featuring members of the San Antonio Spurs, usually with a comedic tone, H-E-B has decided to invoke sentimentalism and a sense of Texas pride in its 2016 Super Bowl 50 commercial. The San Antonio-based grocery chain hopes to encourage viewers to take a step back and reflect on the what it means to be Texan.
Though it won’t be shown to the national market, the commercial involves a recipe, “how to make a Texas,” narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton.
“With all the political noise, we thought it might be a nice time to change the tone and celebrate the flavors of Texas in a more heartwarming way,” said Cory Basso, H-E-B’s vice president of advertising and marketing.
Along with the commercial, H-E-B will launch a #TrueTexan campaign on Twitter, encouraging viewers to share their opinions on what it means to be a “true Texan.” H-E-B hopes the #TrueTexan hashtag will go viral.
The H-E-B commercial, directed by Sugar Film Production’s Chris Smith is expected to reach 3 million households and about 6 million people in the Texas market, Basso said.
Thornton, an Arkansas-native, begins the recipe calling for “269,000 square miles, a quarter million farms, 10,000 some odd ranches,” along with “corn, cattle and all the sky you can handle.” He then calls for aspects that don’t involve the physical Texas landscape.
“Now stir in 28 million people. Try to find a good mix, you know, a pinch of this and a dash of that; it’ll help give the dish so much more flavor,” he says, as smiling faces depicting the diverse cultural makeup of the state appear on the screen.
It culminates with Thornton naming more things that contribute to making Texas “flavorful,” including barbecues, music, tailgating, and quinceñearas. The overall tone of the commercial is one that celebrates the diversity of the Lone Star State, with the words “Home to all the Flavors of Texas” appearing on the screen as an H-E-B truck drives in the sunset.
Big, national names with even bigger budgets spent an average of $4.5 million for a 30-second commercial spot last year. That’s an average of $150,000 per second. This year, the average cost for a 30-second commercial went up to about $5 million, according to research done by Kantar Media.
Though he declined to disclose the total cost for production, Basso said H-E-B’s overall production cost for the commercial was minimal in comparison to other Super Bowl commercials since some of the footage was already collected over the past few years.
The footage was taken in places “all over Texas,” he added.
As far as a non-Texas native giving a recipe on “how to make a Texas,” Basso said Thornton’s birthplace was not important in casting him as the narrator.
“He has lived in Texas before, starred in The Alamo movie, is an Academy Award winner, and we believe his voice is the perfect fit,” he said.