Eva Longoria invites H-E-B shoppers to be the stars in new Super Bowl ad

February 1, 2017 GMT

Texas supermarket chain H-E-B returned to its usual lighthearted fare for this Sunday’s Super Bowl commercial with San Antonio sweetheart Eva Longoria inviting customers to film their own commercials as part of a contest promoting company’s Primo Picks brand.

The actress, sitting at a makeup chair behind the scenes of a commercial shoot, lets shoppers be the star this time. She narrates as a yoga teacher contorts her leg behind her head with some of H-E-B’s Café Olé coffee in a mug held between her toes. A girl with some H-E-B Texas Pets dog food tucked in her pocket is chased by puppies.

“H-E-B Primo Picks are one-of-a-kind products and the best of what’s in store,” Longoria says in the ad. The ad, which kicks off with the 60-minute spot airing in 13 Texas markets, is part of a six-week marketing campaign to promote the supermarket chain’s Primo Picks, a line of featured products in H-E-B stores. “So we’re calling on you to make a video just as unique as they are.”


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Raj Bhavsar, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and Houston native, performs a flip while holding an H-E-B Shake, Rattle and Bowl salad. James McCoy Taylor, a former contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” sings a romantic ode to That Green Sauce, an H-E-B brand of green salsa.

During the campaign, customers can submit up to three videos featuring the supermarket chain’s monthly Primo Picks. Contestants have until March 13 to enter for a chance to win $25,000 and to star in their own H-E-B commercial.

“You wouldn’t be the first person from a small Texas town to make it on TV,” Longoria smiles.

H-E-B’s Super Bowl commercials and long-running series of ads starring San Antonio Spurs players are known for their quirky humor. Its 2014 ad portrayed former Dallas Cowboys quarterback snapping a selfie with an elderly woman when her bacon-flavored jam becomes a hit after she wins the company’s Primo Pick contest. A 2012 ad showed aliens grabbing H-E-B products from Earth to eat on their home planet.

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The company departed from their usual light tone last Super Bowl with a 60-second heartfelt tribute to the state of Texas narrated by actor Billy Bob Thornton over images of wheatgrass, weddings and family gatherings set to acoustic guitar and pedal steel.

“Every year, we try to search out a Texas talent” for the ads, said Cory Basso, H-E-B group vice president of advertising and marketing.

The new ad shows a unicycle rider trying and failing to juggle three cans of H-E-B salsa and a cheerleader in an H-E-B uniform who accidentally kicks a camera operator.


The company wanted a campaign that would “have a lot of legs beyond just running on the Super Bowl,” Basso said. The contest seeks to spur customer involvement on social media by promoting the #PrimoPicksShowdown hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and having shoppers vote on their favorite submissions.

“We’ve done the emotional ode to Texas, we’ve done the super funny, we’ve done songs,” Basso said. “This is the first time we’re really inviting customers to join the game with us.”

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The ad will air during the break between the third and fourth quarters of Super Bowl LI as the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons in Houston, time usually set aside for local companies, Basso said.

H-E-B estimates more than 5 million people will see the ad, Basso said. The company purchased slots in 13 Texas television markets including San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Laredo and Harlingen.

The company, in collaboration with Dallas-based ad agency The Richards Group and the Sugar film production company, had weighed a more Houston-centric approach to its ad but decided against it, Basso said.

“I think that it’s in Houston is obviously great for our company but we wanted to keep the ad something we could run everywhere,” Basso said.

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Rates for the highly watched game run notoriously high. An estimated 188.5 million viewers are expected to tune into the game on Sunday, according to a recent study commissioned by the National Retail Federation.

Fox Sports is charging more than $5 million for a 30-second national spot this year, according to Variety magazine.

Basso wouldn’t disclose the amount H-E-B paid for the slots but said it’s “not even close” to the $5 million mark because the company only purchased airtime in 13 markets compared with the 220 television markets available throughout the U.S.

H-E-B is currently experimenting with and expanding its advertising campaigns. The company recently launched an exclusive line of limited edition cereal geared at fans of retired Spurs power forward Tim Duncan and debuted an accompanying commercial starring Duncan, who is slated to film two more ads for H-E-B by the end of this year.

The supermarket chain is also toying with products branded for specific Spurs players, who would then star in their own individual ads.


Twitter: @JFreports