The A-List power behind Seminole Hard Rock’s Super Bowl ad
Sandra Hale Schulman
This commercial was a mini-movie, titled “The Hype.”
It took place at the Seminole Hard Rock Guitar hotel and was aired during the Super Bowl.
The mini-movie pulled out all the stops featuring A-list stars to include J-Lo, DJ Khaled, Pitbull, Little Steven, Jennifer Lopez’s fiance Alex Rodriguez and basketball icon Kareem Abdul Jabbar. In addition to the star power, the glamour and glitz of the Hard Rock Guitar Hotel, from the expansive rooms to the impressive amenities were on full display.
As the Seminole Tribe-owned Hard Rock International brand continues to grow with dozens of hotels, cafes, restaurants, casinos and memorabilia items, the Chairman of the Hard Rock International and the Chairman of the Tribe at the new $1.5 billion flagship Hard Rock Guitar Hotel in Hollywood, FL made the decision to step up their media presence and produce the commercial for the Super Bowl, just down the street.
(See related story: Seminole’s $ 1.5 billion Hard Rock Guitar Tower is ‘beyond mind-blowing’)
At a press conference prior to the airing of the commercial, Seminole Chairman Marcellus Osceola said: “We used to chase actual pigs around this land, and now at the Super Bowl they’ll be chasing pigskin. We’re proud to share what we have here with the world. And go Chiefs.”
Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming said, “We knew the Guitar Hotel was a hit, and with more than 100 million people watching the game we felt we needed to make a commercial for it.”
“Now Super Bowl commercials are incredibly expensive, but we made the decision that if we are going to be involved in something, we want to do it world-class. We approved some budgets, then went out to find companies and cast members that are legendary. We can’t just put the logo on something, we wanted to tell a story and that would link to all our properties here.”
Allen realized they needed some professional help, but not just any professional help, they wanted the best in the business. “In essence, we were making a small movie, so we chose director Michael Bay, one of the best in the world, director of “Armageddon,” “Transformers” and “Bad Boys,” who wrote the story.”
They did the same in hiring A-list star power for the ad.
“Who better to star than the star of the Super Bowl halftime act, Jennifer Lopez. Once she agreed to star, we needed more celebs, a mix of different artists in entertainment. Our Hard Rock message is that of the international language — music — and one which we represent all over the globe. So we picked DJ Khaled, Pitbull, and Little Steven, along with Lopez’s fiance Alex Rodriguez and Kareem Abdul Jabbar — the most A-list celebrities of any of the Super Bowl ads. Now how to bring them all together?” asked Allen.
The tribe’s solution was to just get it done.
In the commercial titled “The Hype,” Jennifer Lopez is getting ready in her hotel room for her halftime show performance. Someone catapults into her suite from outside the hotel wall, grabs her rhinestone-bedazzled cup and makes a run for it. She shouts “I got this!” and chases him around the resort hotel, into the Rock Spa, through the lagoon pool, past the stage at the Hard Rock Café, vaulting over craps tables, through the high-end Council Oak Steakhouse restaurant, and finally into the Oculus Atrium. In doing so she encounters all the guest stars, finally pulling off the thief’s ski mask, revealing another surprise face.
“We did have one major event happen after we completed filming,” Allen revealed. “Kareem Abdul Jabbar had filmed a scene where he buzzes the hotel in a helicopter. Sunday afternoon we received word of the Kobe Bryant tragedy and out of respect for the families – commercials come and go but compassion for others is forever - we decided to omit that segment.”
The producers were on a short time frame as the commercial was due to the network by noon on Monday, but were able to make the changes happen within hours.
“We are so very excited and honored to be part of this, as the NFL had to approve us as an entertainment company and not just a sports company,” Allen concludes.
At the press conference, memorable items from “The Hype” were on display.
Also on display at the conference on a platform were two outfits and assorted memorabilia from the commercial.
“We own the largest collection of memorabilia in the world,” said Giovanni Taliaferro, Director of Memorabilia Design at Hard Rock, taking the podium. “Our new 100,000 square foot facility that houses everything is now down the street, having moved from Orlando. The two outfits you see here were donated by Jennifer Lopez and Steven van Zandt, it’s her all-white jeans, booties, top and jacket along with her initialed bling cup. Van Zandt donated his stage performance outfit – pants, top, coat, vest, and scarves. We have the dresser Lopez was sitting at, also the gear DJ Khaled was wearing when he scaled the building. We are storytellers and we’re proud to have these amazing new pieces in our collection.”
The commercial aired immediately prior to the Big Game Halftime Show that starred Lopez and Shakira. While the Tribe has not released the budget, the commercial airtime cost in excess of $5 million for a 30-second spot according to Newsweek. The 2-minute commercial was seen by over 100 million people and has been viewed since on YouTube over 600,000 times.
Sandra Hale Schulman, Cherokee, has been writing about Native issues since 1994. She is an author of four books, has contributed to shows at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and has produced three films on Native musicians.