Movie studios often use the Super Bowl to drop trailers for their coming blockbusters. Since last year, a rival source of video entertainment has been doing the same.
Amazon Prime Video will return to the Super Bowl this year, dropping a 60-second trailer in the third quarter for “Hanna,” a new drama centered on a powerful young girl who must thwart agents who want to take her down, along with her father. The commercial will will show Amazon getting more aggressive in the realm of big-game promotion: In Super Bowl LI, Amazon Prime released a trailer for “Jack Ryan,” a series that wasn’t set to debut for months. On Sunday, the streaming service will offer a 24-hour sneak-preview of the series to its members. “Hanna” will debut in March.
“She can kick some ass, but is also on the run and trying to figure out, ‘Who am I?’” says Mike Benson, director of marketing for Prime Video, in an interview. “The interesting thing about this show is that it’s got great female appeal, but also great male appeal. We know there a lot of women who watch the game and wanted to do something for both audiences.”
The commercial features scenes from the series while Karen O. sings a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 rock classic “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.”
The Super Bowl developed into a streaming-video showdown last year, with Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and HBO all dropping video previews of coming features during the event. Netflix surprised the audience with the news that a new entry in the “Cloverfield” movie franchise was available for view immediately, and HBO released a preview of its “Westworld” series. Hulu previewed the series “Castle Rock.” Spokespersons for both Netflix and HBO said they had “nothing to share” at present regarding advertising in Super Bowl LIII, slated for broadcast this Sunday on CBS. Hulu will air a 30-second ad in the game, a spokesperson for the video-streaming site said, declining to offer other details.
Amazon’s interest in the game comes as new competitors are entering the streaming field in 2019. Walt Disney is expected to unveil a new subscription-video service, Disney +, in coming months, as is AT&T’s WarnerMedia. NBCUniversal has said it will enter the field in 2020.
The appearance in the Super Bowl, says Benson, gets “Hanna” in front of a global audience and “makes a statement, not only about the show, but for Prime Video and what Prime Video can offer our customers.”
The company was pleased with the results it got from launching its “Jack Ryan” trailer last year, he says, in NBC’s broadcast of the event. “We saw awareness and intent of use really high coming out of the Super Bowl,” he says. “Trailer views were phenomenally high.”
In a different era, TV networks shied away from letting video rivals take to their air and attempt to herd viewers elsewhere. But that resistance seems to have diminished int the face of a dizzying array of new-tech video outlets willing to spend millions of dollars in advertising to woo linear viewers to their new wares. Amazon, Netflix and HBO aren’t the first to crack the Super Bowl in such fashion, TruTV, the cable outlet once that is part of WarnerMedia, ran a commercial in CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. TV executives were once wary of TV ads that told TV viewers to stop watching traditional TV, but no longer.
Placing one of the new series in the Super Bowl augments its luster, says Benson. “We look at it this way: It’s going to be great television, but when we present it in the Super Bowl, it has the feel of a big movie event,” he says. “The ads that we run there can hold an audience captive, and hold their attention as much as a great game will.”
Based on the 2011 film, “Hanna’s” eight-episode first season was written and produced by David Farr who co-wrote the original feature. Director Sarah Adina Smith led episodes one and two of the series, which filmed entirely on location in Hungary, Slovakia, Morocco, Spain and the U.K. British actress Esme Creed-Miles stars as Hanna alongside Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos.
A series about a young woman with heightened skills working out a relationship with her father while being targeted by enemies offers familiar terrain to Amazon’s Benson. When he led marketing at ABC in a previous role, he helped launch the series “Alias,” a J.J. Abrams drama that starred Jennifer Garner and brought her to wider renown. Interestingly, that series also benefited from the Super Bowl, notching big audiences when ABC aired a second-season episode of the series after its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2003.