How do you make sure that millions of tipsy Americans will pay attention to your multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad? Show it before the Super...
How do you make sure that millions of tipsy Americans will pay attention to your multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad? Show it before the Super Bowl. And after the Super Bowl. And, of course, during the Super Bowl.
Advertisers are jostling for attention for their spots like never before, posting them online in advance of Sunday’s kickoff, unveiling them at news conferences, screening them at cocktail parties and releasing behind-the-scenes videos about the ads’ production.
“For that amount of money, they want to get more bang out of it,” said Neil Burns, professor of advertising at the University of Texas in Austin.
Without question, the early unwrapping of a commercial scheduled to run during the most watched TV show of the year, a show known for its often innovative advertising, will grab free publicity and might get people talking.
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“We wouldn’t do a Super Bowl ad at that cost if we weren’t looking for some great buzz from it,” said Jake Jacobson, a spokesman for Garmin International, which makes GPS products.
It held a news conference at Gotham Hall in New York on Wednesday to introduce its ad (a vintage car tears through the streets of Paris, guided by a Garmin device, and when the car stops, Napoleon gets out) and posted teasers for the ad on its blog.
Jacobson acknowledged a downside, at least for Super Bowl ad fans.
“It’s lost a little bit of the suspense,” he said.
But it’s good for business. Research company Cision said in a recent report that “news about the advertising … can extend the marketing reach tenfold.” Cision said broadcast TV stations aired 6,663 news stories about Super Bowl ads in 2006 — up from 463 in 2002.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance received $25 million worth of free publicity by releasing its ad (celebrated for starring Kevin Federline) early last year, said Barbara Lippert, an ad critic for Adweek. Cision said that for PepsiCo, the value of its Diet Pepsi ad being mentioned in TV news reports before Super Bowl XL was $12.3 million.
“We give out most of our Super Bowl ads early to the press because the media attention on the commercials is usually quite high,” said Dave DeCecco, a spokesman for Pepsi.
Among the brands whose spots you can view now: PepsiCo, Garmin, GoDaddy.com and Unilever. Audi will allow people to watch its spot online a few hours before the game.
Teasers or snippets of many other offerings are available online, from companies such as Under Armour, Planters, Gatorade and Bridgestone-Firestone.
Under Armour, the athletic-apparel company launching its first noncleated sneaker line with its Super Bowl spot, saw increased Web traffic and inquiries about the shoes after the release of a teaser, a spokesman said.
The teasers feature athletes Jen Hudack, Vernon Davis and Carl Edwards, but not the shoes themselves — viewers won’t see those until the Super Bowl.
Unless they’re invited to the ad’s premiere at Maxim’s Super Bowl party in Phoenix today.
Trying to get mileage
Even companies patiently waiting until Sunday are trying to get more mileage. “In the past, the buzz was about how entertaining the ads would be,” said Thomas Boyd, a sports-marketing professor at California State University, Fullerton. “This year, it seems like it’s just about the fact that they’re advertising.”
Every year, online domain licensing site GoDaddy.com makes a point of producing an ad that the network declines as too racy, and then invites viewers to go it its Web site. GoDaddy then makes another ad that actually appears.
The spot accepted by Fox for this year’s game shows an employee watching the rejected GoDaddy ad on a computer while other people watch TV, and it cuts to a sultry image of driver Danica Patrick, a GoDaddy spokeswoman, unzipping her jacket. (The rejected ad featured Patrick and a beaver, according to Advertising Age, which provided no more details.)
Doritos, which led the charge on consumer-generated ads last year, this year hosted a contest that asked bands and singers to submit original songs. People voted online for their favorites, and a professionally produced video of the winner will air during the Super Bowl.
That type of stunt might not help a brand sell more products, though. “You get people talking about the band contest, but that doesn’t relate to chips,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management.
It’s worth a try, said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which came up with the Doritos campaign.
“In the old days, people used to keep their Super Bowl ads secret,” he said. Now, considering the millions of dollars most companies spend on producing ads and buying time for them, “they want to get as much publicity out of this as they possibly can.”