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Winning Disney World

11 March 2011 No Comment

Another year, another Super Bowl passes into history. And while ongoing millionaire-versus-billionaire labor strife might mean this was the last one for a couple of years (though I doubt it), this year’s edition came with the same ad industry hype, the same Brand Bowl BS that seeks to elevate big ad buys into some sort of referendum on the state of the industry. So we’re reminded year after year of the “25 Greatest Super Bowl Ads,” or just how bad Go Daddy ads are, or how USA Today’s Ad Meter is the dumbest thing ever.

But what struck me this year was how often one of the catchiest and longest-lived ads surprisingly flies below the radar, never mentioned in the best or most effective or most memorable ads with Apple’s “1984” and Coke’s Mean Joe Greene spot. The ad is simple – the Super Bowl-winning QB stopping moments after winning to say, “I’m going to Disney World/Disney Land.”

According to Wikipedia (which I’m told is never incorrect), the idea came from the wife of Disney CEO Michael Eisner. The campaign debuted following the Super Bowl in 1987, and featured New York Giants QB Phil Simms butchering the delivery of the line:  I’m Going to Disney World.

Simms has gone on to a lucrative career in broadcasting, as well as threatening violence against those who criticize the play of less-talented son, a college quarterback.

Since then, the ad has run nearly uninterrupted for 24 years following major sports championships. They recently started including forgettable American Idol winners, leading me to wonder whether the campaign should be taken out back and shot, like most of said Idol winners.

Yet that shouldn’t take away from the execution’s strength. Almost immediately following the first ad, a trip to a Disney theme park became synonymous with winning, a powerful connection few brands have ever had. Since then, it has become an indelible part of the American pop culture lexicon, appearing in some form or fashion in scores of TV shows and movies.

- Kyle Cavanaugh

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