A 30-second commercial during the XLIII Super Bowl in 2009 (Pittsburgh Steelers v. the Arizona Cardinals) would set you back about $3 million dollars. So what do you do if you want to promote your small business during the game, but don’t have that kind of cash? Just ask Ivar.
Folk singer Ivar Haglund founded of Ivar’s, a seafood restaurant chain based in Seattle. Ivar’s has become a Washington institution, not only because of its great food, but because of its crazy marketing campaigns. Haglund was famous for pulling stunts to get people into his restaurant, including staging an oil-like “syrup spill” to promote his pancakes. Haglund died in 1985, but the restaurant has continued the tradition of insane promotions. (You can see some of their crazy commercials here.)
In 2009, the marketing people at Ivar’s came up with another in their long line of attention-grabbing promotions: Half Second, Half Off. The half-second commercial would air only once during the Super Bowl and contain a number of iconic Seattle images. The restaurant then held a contest: anyone who could name all of the icons in the blink-and-you-miss-it ad would get half off their meal.
Although the Miller Brewing Company had a series of one-second ads during that same Super Bowl, Ivar’s half-second commercial stole the show.