It's the Super Bowl next weekend – and the time of year when media buyers compete to secure the most expensive slots on US network television.
Back in 1984, Apple Computer caused a stir when it aired a startling commercial based on George Orwell's novel 1984 to introduce the Macintosh computer to an unsuspecting general public.
Widely regarded as one of the most successful pieces of television advertising – particularly from a technology firm – the commercial is reputed to have catapulted Apple into the mainstream consciousness.
Fast forward to 2011 and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is clearly hoping to pull off a 1984-style trick as the Cloud Computing firm airs two animated commercials – immediately before and after halftime at the SuperBowl in what may be the firm's boldest – and most expensive? - marketing gambit to date.
The animated commercials were developed in association with Will.i.am – front man for the Black Eyes Peas, the band that will be performing during the halftime at the SuperBowl. Will.i.am wrote and directed the commercial which features the 'Baby Peas', a group of animated characters that we will see again in later campaigns as well as 'Chatty, the magical cloud',, a Salesforce.com creation best known for dancing around on stage at Salesforce.com events.
The animated version of Will.I.Am will walk out of the commercial just as the real world version comes on stage to perform. It's the latest twist in an ongoing relationship between Salesforce.com and the singer. At Dreamforce 2010, Will.i.am - a friend of Benioff's - sat in the front row of the audience, chatted about how Cloud changed the way he worked, then DJ-ed at the conference party.
It's a bold gambit and one that carries a 'big numbers' price tag of course – a 30 second slot at the Super Bowl can set you back a cool $3 million a pop.