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SAN DIEGO, Feb 2, 2012 – Super Bowl advertising has become as much of a spectacle as the game itself. Often it’s far more entertaining. A huge slice of the audience admits it’s watching mainly for the commercials, the only occasion all year in America where this is true.
Advertisers are willing to put down huge amounts of money to get their ads into the Super Bowl of advertising, mainly for the buzz and the bragging rights. In 2012, the going rate is $3.5 million for 30 seconds, and up to $4 million if you want a premium placement like the break before the kickoff.
This year, Super Bowl advertising has a viral twist. Instead of relying on an element of suspense and surprise for advertising, companies are talking up their ads in industry publications, and placing sneak previews or sometimes reveals of the entire commercial on YouTube and various social networks.
Doesn’t this steal an ad’s thunder and ruin the impact? Volkswagen American President and CEO Jonathan Browning says last year’s sneak peek on the Thursday before the Super Bowl of its Star Wars themed ad received 13 million views before the kickoff, helping to build anticipation and high expectations for the ad which was widely considered the best of the lot in 2011.
VW decided to repeat its success with another ad playing off the same theme, shooting a stand-along preview called “The Bark Side” that as of publication had received nearly 11 million views. Wednesday its brand new ad debuted in its entirety and is getting plenty of exposure.
Meanwhile, other media are covering this phenomenon, airing the previews and full ads for free within news coverage, generating free publicity. Advertising execs are in hog heaven; they’ve never had it so good.
So love the buzz or think it’s a total buzzkill having your surprise ruined, this trend is here to stay. Upon a review of the lion’s share of the ads out there, here’s our rundown (or spoiler, depending on your point of view) of what you’ll be seeing in between touchdowns and field goals on Super Bowl Sunday.
Thanks to its strong showing last year, VW has the most anticipated ad. First, it released its preview, “The Bark Side.” On February 1 it released “The Dog Strikes Back,” featuring the golden retriever from last year’s Passat ad, along with a transition to a full-blown recreation of the Star Wars cantina scene.
Honda scored big with its teaser on YouTube featuring a salt and pepper haired Matthew Broderick as his alter ago Ferris Bueller, followed by the release of the extended two-and-a-half minute version of its ad. While Broderick as Ferris enjoys his day off in a Honda CR-V and not a hot sports car, viewers have loved seeing their pal Bueller brought back to life. It’s on its way to eight million views so far.
Acura’s ad features comedian Jerry Seinfeld and late-night talk host Jay Leno pitching the new NSX. Seinfeld and Leno are both known as manic car collectors and the ad plays off their obsession. An extended edition has been viewed over five million times to date.
The theme of Toyota’s Super Bowl ad for the Camry is “It’s Reinvented!” In the ad, a variety of products and situations are reinevented: couches, curtains, and even the DMV. Will the attempt at humor work? Maybe not, but at least there is some serious eye candy for the ladies here.
Audi’s ad will be popular with Twilight fans, going with a vampires theme. Big points for using a song from Echo and the Bunnymen as the ad’s soundtrack. It’s garnered 2.5 million views online.
In its fifth year of Super Bowl advertising, Hyundai will air five new ads on Super Bowl Sunday, all featuring Jeff Bridges as the narrator: two pre-game spots, one 60-second commercial in the highly rated pre-kickoff time slot and two during the game. All five have been released on Hyundai’s YouTube channel. The clear winner is the pre-kickoff ad with a “Rocky” theme featuring over 200 workers from Hyundai’s Alabama production plant. The behind the scene feature for this ad is well worth watching.
Chevy decided to embrace the modern experience by crowdsourcing its ad with the Route 66 competition. The winning ad comes from 26-year-old Zack Borst, who received a $25,000 prize for his effort called “Chevy Happy Grad,” depicting a deliriously happy college graduate and the bright yellow Camaro about to change his life.
Enough of cars. How about real estate? Century 21 is advertising on the Super Bowl for the first time with a series of three ads featuring three different celebrities that represent the company’s agents as “Smarter, Bolder, Faster” – Deion Sanders, Apolo Anton Ohno, and Donald Trump. Think you know which is which?
It wouldn’t seem like the Super Bowl without the GoDaddy.com girls, the Career Builder chimps, or the E-Trade baby, and yep, they are all back. For every critic (like me) who thinks these themes are getting tired, the companies claim the characters are all back by Popular Demand. Guys, I had my fun with Beckham, so this one’s for you.
Hulu is back for its second year of Super Bowl advertising with one pregame commercial and one during the game. The new ad has the same tone as its twisted alien plotline featuring Alec Baldwin. This year, Will Arnett takes over and the alien theme of melting human brains continues. The Twitter hashtag is #mushymuch
Pepsi will show two Super Bowl ads. One for Pepsi MAX uses Regis Philbin to announce a video competition. Sticking with the competition theme, X-Factor winner Melanie Amaro stars in the second Super Bowl ad, which also features Elton John, singing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The second ad is still under wraps, but Regis is front and center already.
John Stamos fights a losing battle over a carton of yogurt. There isn’t much more to it.
This commercial is a creepy Men In Black II looking ad, a real head-scratcher times two.
Also on tap are ads from Samsung, Sketchers, Coca-Cola, and Kia Optima.
Will there be anything left to talk about Monday morning after the game around the office water cooler? Sure there will. You can’t stop Americans from weighing in about Super Bowl commercials. Plenty of people don’t have the time to chase down all the ads online, or care. The experience seeing them shared as a nation still rules over viral video any day. But it would be nice if there were still a little room for a few surprises.
Predictions from TV Den:
HITS: Volkswagen, Audi, Chevy, Honda, Hulu
MISSES: Cars.com, Oikos Yogurt, Career Builder (enough with the chimps already)
THE REST: Are they really worth the money?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Read more here about the greatest Super Bowl commercial ever made: Steve Jobs, Apple, and myths about the best TV commercial ever
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