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A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
NBC’s Today show has spent a good chunk of time this week previewing commercials that will run during the Super Bowl, which airs on the network this Sunday. But an ad that is sure to generate headlines is being planned by sister company Universal Pictures and has been kept secret from NBC and the rest of the world.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Universal is planning to air a spot for Ted 2, the sequel to the megahit comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried and a talking teddy bear, and that there’s an interesting twist: The ad features New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in a sequence that will call to mind the “Tom Brady’s balls” meme that has consumed social media in the wake of the ongoing deflated-football controversy.
Ted 2, which is set in Boston, features a storyline revolving around fertility and Ted’s attempt to have a baby. As part of the gag, Brady shows up in the film (and in the ad) as a possible sperm donor. Universal has planned the Super Bowl commercial for the Seth MacFarlane-directed comedy for months. But according to one source, when Brady and the Patriots were accused earlier this month of intentionally deflating footballs to gain an advantage during the NFL playoffs, execs briefly considered altering the ad to include a reference to the controversy. Ultimately, that idea proved problematic (any changes to Ted’s dialogue require extensive animation tweaks) so the ad will remain as is, says the source. Another Universal source says there was never a possibility of altering the ad to take advantage of so-called “Deflategate.”
Universal declined to comment.
Brady is no stranger to advertising, of course, having appeared in high-profile spots for Uggs, Under Armour and Dodge, among others. Still, the quarterback’s appearance in a trailer for a film with that subject matter during a game in which he’s playing while at the center of a balls-related controversy is sure to cause a stir (or at least a few giggles) at Super Bowl parties.
Despite the $4.5 million cost for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl, Hollywood studios should be out in force during this year’s game. But so far the studios have been mum on the specifics of which movies will get the plum promo treatment. Ted 2 would seem a natural for a Super Bowl ad. The first film, released in 2012, grossed $550 million worldwide and appealed heavily to men. The Super Bowl was watched by a record 112.2 million viewers in 2014, according to Nielsen.
Ted 2, from Universal and Media Rights Capital, will be released June 26.
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