The Superbowl has always delivered for the football fan and the non-fan alike. The latter group has, for years, enjoyed a host of well-made advertisements from numerous companies. Yesterday, during Seattle’s destruction of Denver, the football fan was forced to find some enjoyment in advertising as well due to the dominance of Seattle’s defense which put the game to bed quite early last evening.

Honda logo

Automotive spots

The automotive industry often splashes out upwards of $6 million for production and the airing of a 30-second spot.

Honda in the past has gone big on Superbowl Sunday, notably two years ago when it enlisted the help of Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick.

This year, Honda went smaller by enlisting Bruce Willis to tout Honda’s safety record.

“Super Bowl spots are now going over the top — we’ve done that in the past and I’m not saying it’s good or bad,” said Mike Accavitti, Tokyo-based Honda’s U.S. senior vice president. “Instead of going big, we’re going small.”

He added that the goal of the spot was to “zig, when everyone else was zagging,”

The Honda “hugfest”

As a result the commercial, which featured Willis in front of a white background, had the actor asking viewers to hug family and friends who were watching the game with them. He then showed viewers how by sharing a hug with former Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen.

Hugging is a reminder that people “are not crash-test dummies. They’re not engineering data,” Willis says in the commercial as Armisen smiled up at the taller actor.

Safety features are important to people who buy Hondas and this ad in its understated way made sure that people remember that.

“While we are in fact a leader in safety, the public doesn’t always recognize that,” Mike Accavitti told reporters last week.

Four Hondas: the Accord sedan and coupe, Civic sedan and Odyssey minivan — earned Top Safety Pick+ assessment, the highest such rating, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Honda’s Acura RLX sedan and MDX sport-utility vehicle also received that designation again last year.

Responses to the ad were largely well received by advertising executives who were touched by its “small” nature.