Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching on the first of February, and brands are either busy suiting up—or booking their beach vacations and skipping the fray, as automakers such as Audi, Ford and Volkswagen are doing this year.
While the on-field battle will be between the AFC’s New England Patriots and the NFC’s Seattle Seahawks, there is a separate skirmish occurring in the branding world: Is it more effective to endlessly tease a Super Bowl ad before the big game and even pre-release the commercial online, or is there more value in surprising consumers with your mega-bucks ad on Super Bowl Sunday?
The Wall Street Journal explored this vexing question by looking at a few brands’ pre-Game Day strategies. Lexus, for example, is taking the pre-release route this year, already releasing its Super Bowl ad online: “Make Some Noise,” which incorporates sounds from its new NX hybrid to underscore the action.[more]
Volkswagen made a similar pre-Game move in 2011, and had 17 million views of its teaser ad before the kickoff even occurred. “From a pure exposure standpoint, we made back all our money on the spot before it ever ran without spending a dime,” Deutsch North America CEO Mike Sheldon told the Journal.
That may be true, but plenty of brands, such as Nissan, aren’t going to show off their new ads till the actual game gets underway.
“Fundamentally, the element of entertainment surprise is key,” said Fred Diaz, SVP of Nissan’s US Sales & Marketing and Operations, to the Journal. “We all know that commercials are a big reason that people tune into the Super Bowl, in addition to watching the game. What we don’t want to do is destroy the magic of the spot by showing it beforehand.”
Brands are, of course, using digital means to drum up interest.
Carnival is letting consumers vote on which ad will run on game day, while Wix.com is spinning mock tales online about the five retired NFL players, including Brett Favre (promoted with a fake Favre and Carve website), who will appear in its ad on Feb. 1.
Skittles is teasing its Super Bowl ad with a tailgating party spot starring Kurt Warner:
Other Super Bowl teasers this year include the next stop on Bud Light’s “Up for Whatever” campaign as well as a Mercedes-Benz online campaign featuring retired NFL pro Jerry Rice covering the tortoise vs. hare “Big Race Viewing Party” showdown:
Among the plethora of auto brands skipping the Super Bowl this year, Volkswagen, has been crowned with the “Most Shared Super Bowl Ad of All Time” award by Unruly Media, according to USA Today.
Its 2011 “The Force” spot, which featured a lad dressed as Darth Vader who can’t believe has the ability start up the car with his use of the Force. His father has duped him from offscreen with a keyless remote. (Now that’s good fathering.) This video has been shared more than 5.2 million times online.
Continuing on the fatherhood theme, Dove is teasing its Men+Care Big Game ad by re-releasing online its seven-month-old “Calls for Dad” spot that has already racked up more than 12 million views online:
Another brand that is getting a major boost without shelling out the millions for an ad is American Sign Language.
ASL, thanks to the work of the National Association for the Deaf along with brand sponsor PepsiCo, will have its Super Bowl debut as actress Treshelle Edmond is slated to sign the National Anthem alongside singer Idina Menzel and “American the Beautiful” with John Legend.