Super Bowl Advertisers Make Early Blitz ; with Rise of Social Media, Ads Are Being Promoted on Web to Build Interest

By Elliott, Stuart | International Herald Tribune, January 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Super Bowl Advertisers Make Early Blitz ; with Rise of Social Media, Ads Are Being Promoted on Web to Build Interest


Elliott, Stuart, International Herald Tribune


The growing interest among consumers in discussing Super Bowl commercials on social Web sites before and during the game is pushing sponsors to end a practice of keeping ads hush-hush until game day.

It was only four years ago that the New York Giants and the New England Patriots last played in the Super Bowl. But the behavior of Super Bowl sponsors has changed significantly since then, reflecting the surging popularity of social media.

The growing interest among consumers in discussing Super Bowl commercials on social Web sites before and during the game is pushing sponsors to use sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stimulate excitement about their expensive and often elaborate commercials. The result is that a long-held belief among marketers that Super Bowl commercials should be kept hush-hush until they run is giving way to a philosophy of teasing content in advance. In some cases, that means sharing even entire commercials early.

For instance, on Wednesday, Volkswagen of America began running a video meant to pique interest in its coming Super Bowl commercial for the 2012 Beetle. The Super Bowl commercial will tell a story about a determined dog and end with a homage to "Star Wars" and "The Force," the Volkswagen Passat commercial from the 2011 Super Bowl that was the most-watched ad on YouTube last year, with more than 49 million views.

The teaser video, called "The Bark Side," presents a canine chorus performing "The Imperial March" from the "Star Wars" films, which was also heard in the Passat commercial. The teaser was viewed 1.6 million times on youtube.com in the first 24 hours; by Monday afternoon, the total exceeded 7.3 million. The teaser also directs viewers to a section of the Volkswagen Web site, vw.com/star-wars- invite, where they can invite friends to Super Bowl parties with customized versions of the "Star Wars" opening title crawls.

The actual Beetle Super Bowl commercial is to be posted online on Feb. 1, four days before the Giants and the Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLVI on NBC, which is charging an average of $3.5 million for 30 seconds of commercial time.

"We want to start and provoke a conversation," said Tim Mahoney, chief product and marketing officer at Volkswagen of America, and "we're off to a rock-solid start."

The company is following its playbook from last year, when "The Force" commercial for the Passat was uploaded to YouTube before appearing in Super Bowl XLV and was watched 14 million times before the game.

Lifting the veil before the Super Bowl "has a halo effect," said Mike Sheldon, chief executive at Deutsch L.A., the agency that created both commercials and the "Bark Side" teaser, by encouraging Super Bowl viewers to watch a commercial when it turns up during the game.

"They like to be let in on the joke, let in on the story, early," Mr. …

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