What will Disney unveil in the John Carter Super Bowl Ad?

John Carter News

Well, Super Sunday is here and for once I’m more interested in one of the ads than the game itself–a first for me in my long history of Super Bowls.  Don’t get me wrong — I always enjoy the ads, but they’ve never eclipsed the game.  Until now.

The thing is — what are we to expect from Disney?  Will they go with a brand new 30 second spot?  Or a revision to the previous spots?

We know that there is a “hidden code” somewhere in the trailer — how hidden it will be, and what kind of code, is a matter of some conjecture.

But my interest is in the ad itself — what direction will Disney go?  Those who have been following the promotion carefully know that during all the previous football games, the spot that has been used has been one version or another of the “Warhoon” spot — the action oriented spot that depicts John Carter and Woola facing what looks like a football kickoff as the Warhoons race toward them.  Here’s the Warhoon spot:

My comment on this is that I think it will be a mistake to go with this ad during the Super Bowl and here’s why. The ad has already been criticized in some quarters as feeling almost like a “mock ad” at the beginning — meaning, the immediate shot of “Warhoons on the Ridge” and the general way it begins leaves some viewers looking for a punch line — and during the Super Bowl this would be surely the case. Viewers who are unfamiliar with the movie, and who are in Super Bowl mindset, are going to be 10 or 15 seconds into the ad before they realize it’s a movie ad and not a clever Budweiser ad. This is not the result Disney is looking for.

For the Golden Globes and other non-athletic events, Disney has been using the “He Arrives” spot, the latest version of which is an excellent tease and good way of introducing first time viewers to the movie. Here is the latest version of this spot — in which six action shots (especially white ape shots) have been removed and shots emphasizing the spectacle and love story have been inserted.

If Disney is not presenting anything wholly new, this is the spot I hope they go with. The Super Bowl audience is not a “football audience” — it’s the biggest cross section of American society that you can get, and it would be a waste to target “football fans” with the Warhoon spot. Super Bowl fans are not “football fans” …..(a percentage of them are, but that’s not the identity of the audience.) This spot is a “teaser” spot and at least 80% of the Super Bowl audience will be hearing about the movie for the first time. This ad creates intrigue, doesn’t offend anyone, and is the best available way (based on the currently available spots) to create awareness which is what the Super Bowl ad needs to do.

But the larger question is — will Disney take the risk of trying out something entirely new for Super Bowl Sunday?

Last week Disney released on its own website what I’ve been calling a “kiddie trailer” but which they are calling a “Featurette”. This 61 second spot, clearly pitched to kids (oh year, listen to that narrator) has actually gotten a better response online than much of what Disney has put out — particularly the Warhoon Spot and the main theatrical trailer. This spot emphasizes the humor and probably comes closer to giving a real idea of what Andrew Stanton has done with the material than either of the other spots.

One more option, sort of — would be something that expands on the 10 second “Super Bowl Sneak Preview” spot but I just don’t think that’s likely. The Sneak Preview spot is based on the “Journey to the Superbowl” promotion which has to do with a sweepstakes wherein the winner gets to “journey to the Super Bowl” next year, c/o Disney. So the 10 seconds of material in this spot feature John Carter “journeying” (get it?) ….but surely they’re not going to waste their Super Bowl moment on something like that. Here is the Super Bowl Sneak Preview:

My final prediction:

1) What Disney should do: He Arrives
2) What they will do: Warhoon


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