Russell Wilson starring solo in Super Bowl ad for American Family

2014-01-30T12:15:00Z Russell Wilson starring solo in Super Bowl ad for American FamilyKAREN RIVEDAL | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6106

Seattle Seahawks quarterback and former University of Wisconsin standout Russell Wilson will star in his first solo Super Bowl commercial for American Family Insurance — even as he plays in his first Super Bowl on Sunday, too.

Shot in late November at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, the 60-second ad was always meant to air on Super Bowl Sunday, but it carries extra cachet with second-season phenom Wilson and his Seahawks playing in the game.

It was an unplanned but welcome marketing coup, American Family advertising director Myles Romero said. “The stars and the moon just aligned,” Romero said. “The fact that the Seahawks ended up in the Super Bowl — you can’t plan those kinds of things.”

Wilson, 25, is the winningest quarterback through his first two seasons in NFL history, continuing a pattern of success he demonstrated while leading the Badgers to a Big Ten Conference title and Rose Bowl berth in his only year at UW in 2011. In the 2012 season, his first as a football pro, he took the Seahawks to the playoffs.

Wilson signed an endorsement contract with Madison-based American Family in January 2013 and shared his first Super Bowl ad for the company with two other athletes with local ties: women’s hockey star Jessie Vetter and golfer Steve Stricker. This year, Wilson had the cred to go solo.

“With his rise with the Seahawks and then ending up in the Super Bowl, we felt like he really personified what American Family stands for, in terms of the pursuit and achievement of dreams,” Romero said. “And he’s going to be on a national stage, so we felt it would make a lot of sense to borrow that equity and tell our brand message in a more powerful way.”

But Romero says Wilson would be American Family’s pick even if he was having a bad year. At just 5 feet 11 inches — small for a quarterback by today’s standards — his appeal as a scrappy and talented striver, with a reputed strong work ethic, earnest demeanor and never-say-quit professionalism, transcends any box score, Romero said.

“This guy is a great guy,” he said. “Both on the field and off the field, he really embodies what we believe in terms of what it means to pursue your dreams.”

Part of the insurer’s long-running American Dreams campaign, the Super Bowl ad features Wilson wrapping athletic tape around one forearm and then walking in near darkness from the stadium tunnel to a quiet, spotlit playing field.

His footsteps crunch on the cold grass, for a time the only sound audible, before he pauses to gaze onto rows of empty seats while singer/actor Harry Belafonte intones about the nature of dream fulfillment.

The camera soars for an all-encompassing aerial view and then pans to close-ups of Wilson’s eye in profile, and of his fingers touching the ground.

“Dreams fight — they persevere, they go on,” Belafonte says in a voice-over. “Dreams will always prevail.”

“The approach was less is more,” Romero said.

“The way I viewed (the ad) from the beginning is that it’s like a 60-second movie. It’s that kind of emotional appeal. It’s just beautifully shot.”

The spot will air regionally in 68 television markets in the 19 mostly Midwestern states where American Family does business, including seven times in Madison on Fox 47.

It’ll run four times pre-game between 1 and 5 p.m., once around kickoff, once during the game and once after.

Romero wouldn’t say how much American Family spent to produce the ad and run it on Super Bowl Sunday, traditionally the most expensive airtime in advertising. But he noted that airing the ad regionally, rather than nationally, was a cost-saver.

“By running the ad (only) in select markets where we do business, we can make our investment go much further,” Romero said.

“This approach costs significantly less, while still allowing us to reach millions of viewers. We’ll also draw on social media to continue the conversation, using the hashtag #longlivedreams in Twitter and Facebook posts.”

[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to remove a reference to a policy by Fox Broadcasting Company not to run the Russell Wilson ads on satellite TV providers Dish and DirecTV. On Thursday, an American Family spokesperson said Fox had changed its policy and the commercials will be broadcast by the satellite TV providers.]

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(9) Comments

  1. dakref
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    dakref - January 31, 2014 8:02 am
    One looks like Norm from cheers because that's exactly who it is.
  2. Crow Barr
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    Crow Barr - January 30, 2014 11:41 am
    I pray that no Ex-Badgers get hurt!
  3. adamman
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    adamman - January 30, 2014 11:03 am
    "Flo" needs to marry Jared from subway and go away.
    Commercials are so irritating. WPT, PBS are the best.
  4. adamman
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    adamman - January 30, 2014 10:08 am
    Ego, my homeowner's insurance went up this year, so I shopped around. S.F. was twice the premium. Discount dabble check? Un-Bare-able. So I stayed with my current company.
    I like this Super Bowl. No stress. I can find reasons to favor both teams.
    Whoever wins, it'll be a great game.
    Wilson is a smart man. He gets it. Being a nice guy (blessed with charisma) he knows it's money in his pocket to project a positive image. Can't blame the guy. Peyton Manning has done the same thing.
  5. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
    Report Abuse
    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - January 30, 2014 9:25 am

    Still shivering me timbers; thanks for asking.

    We're an AmFam family. We thought about doing the 'discount daaaable check' until they started bringing in bares fans. Those guys make B.J. Raji look like a swimsuit model, and one of them looks like Normy from Cheers.

    My anti-football sister (Olympia, WA) is a faaaaar left Proglibocrat advocate for nearly everything that involves the un/under-served population (homeless, food pantries, low-income housing, etc.) and she RAVES about the local community service contributions Wilson and his wife perform.

    He's a solid, upstanding guy that walks the walk. But so is Montee Ball!

  6. BobbyG123
    Report Abuse
    BobbyG123 - January 30, 2014 9:22 am
    You talking about Flo??? I love Flo!! To each his or her own I guess. Mayhem rocks too.

    Go Badgers!
  7. adamman
    Report Abuse
    adamman - January 30, 2014 9:07 am
    BTW, speaking of insurance ads, I'm so sick of seeing that lady from Progressive Insurance I am ready to barf. She has been on for ages. How old is she now? 105? I wish Mayhem would take her out.
  8. adamman
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    adamman - January 30, 2014 9:00 am
    Ego! How are you this fine tropical morning?
    Yes, Wilson is a photo finish faster, but only on a good day. But he's definitely mayhem.
    I really like Wilson. I hope he does well in the game.
    I've shopped American Family but get better prices elsewhere. My favorite insurer is the American Taxpayer Insurance Co.
  9. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
    Report Abuse
    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - January 30, 2014 8:36 am
    Think Wilson has a better time in the 40 than 'Jake from State Farm?'

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