Tech Bowl: Best Buy Spotlights Mobile Innovators, Founders In Super Bowl Spot

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Every year, Best Buy runs a big Super Bowl spot, and traditionally they go the route of hiring a big celebrity to hawk their brand message. Last year, it was “the Biebs” and Ozzy Osbourne. This year, Best Buy has opted for something a bit different, choosing to highlight innovators and give more than a nod to geeks in its tech-focused Super Bowl ad.

Drew Panayiotou, Best Buy’s U.S. marketing chief, told Bloomberg that the company had initially planned to continue down the celebrity track, but the outpouring of affection for Steve Jobs after the Apple CEO passed away was strong evidence that “Silicon Valley inventors are today’s stars.”

So, this year’s Super Bowl ad opens with Philippe Kahn, the current CEO of Fullpower Technologies and the guy credited with inventing the camera phone, next there’s author, inventor, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who shows himself the father of text-to-speech synthesis. The ad also features the key characters behind Instagram, like Kevin Systrom, Square, Shazam, and Words With Friends.

It’s the most Silicon Valley/startup founders together in one advertisement we’ve seen, ever? Best Buy has been struggling over the last year, and many see the company as a foundering ship, so buoying itself on the back of inventors and innovators is certainly an interesting play. Best Buy needs to prove it can go toe-to-toe with Walmart et al, and the idea is to present the idea that the Best Buyers in blue shirts are some of the most knowledgeable geeks in the business.

So knowledgeable, in fact, that all these inventors want to line up to back their brand in a Super Bowl ad. Of course, implied is the heaps of cash they were offered to join in on turning Best Buy’s brand around. (Read more about Best Buy’s future here.)

As for the promo itself, Best Buy is giving a $50 gift card to anyone who volunteers to upgrade their phones from one of four national carriers at a Best Buy store near you.

It was good to see Words of Friends founders/brothers Paul and David Bettner poking fun at Alec Baldwin’s now infamous cellphone on a plane incident, in which he refused to turn off his phone, because he was, of course, playing Scrabble With Friends. Pop culture, celebrities, and technology, all together in one weird self-referential celebration. Unsettling, yet geek-tastic.