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How to Spend $275 Million in 48 Minutes: Three Super Bowl Ad Trends for 2013


Want to watch $275 Million get spent in 48 minutes?  Just tune into CBS at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to see one of America's greatest primetime displays of violence, debauchery and poor impulse control. And I'm not talking about the Super Bowl…

I'm talking about the Super Bowl ads.

In all seriousness, these days it's no surprise that independent research year after year continues to show that over half of U.S adult viewers plan to watch the Super Bowl as much, or more, for the ads than for the game itself. In fact, social listening measurement findings suggested that in 2012 64% of respondents said that half or more of their conversations online with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials themselves.

With the average investment of $4 Million on the line for a 30-second spot, it's no wonder why the CMOs of many of these advertisers are looking to squeeze their investment for every penny.

There are three standout trends that have continued to proliferate the Super Bowl ad space for the last several years (and by all accounts will continue even more in 2013).

01. Online Ad Preview and Teasers

Online Ad Previews and Teasers are becoming more of the norm. VW made the most famous splash last year with its Star Wars parodies that received over 56 Million hits after all was said and done, largely in part to the pre-release of the spots on YouTube.

This year's early winner goes to the Kate Upton Mercedes spot, which in one week gained over 5 Million views (and counting).

Humbling news as, by this author's account, this is one of the more ridiculously off-brand spots I've ever seen. Given the fact that the CLA won't even be available for the next 7 months, the brand needs lasting impression and awareness. Regardless of the substance, it's clear that Mercedes knows the value of online traction and will do whatever it takes, no matter how low-brow, to get an early lead among its rivals.

Regarding the idea of Super Bowl teasers, the concept is simple, but the debate still rages on about whether or not the big reveal should be saved for the big game. While we don't promote a "one size fits all" approach to advertising, and I'm sure there are errors to the rule, it's hard to argue with the facts. Mashable reports, "According to YouTube's research, ads that ran online before the Super Bowl last year got 9 Million views, on average. Those that waited? 1.3 Million." With, on average, three times as many views online over broadcast, many could argue that the real winner in all of this is actually YouTube.

02. Ads for Social Democracy

Ads by social democracy are becoming more common in 2013. While Doritos pioneered the concept with their user-generated ads in the past few years, this year we are seeing a greater variety of the concept. For instance, one of the biggest brands in the world, Budweiser, has finally launched a Twitter account in its name. The brand, which had a little more than 600 followers Monday morning, is using the account to promote its upcoming Super Bowl ad, which will feature a Clydesdale foal via their Twitter hashtag campaign. Pepsi is also using their site and Twitter to recruit some of their fans to strike a pose with their can before their half-time show.

But, the big pre-game winners in 2013 seem to be the "choose your own adventure" style ads from Audi and Coke. In what Audi says is a Super Bowl first, they recorded separate endings for their "Prom Night" commercial, and are compiling social votes where the audience chooses the ending. Coke created cokechase.com to tease their spots by highlighting three different sets of teams who are all racing to win a giant coke in the desert. The team with the most votes online will get their spot aired right after the game.


03. Second Screen

This year, more viewers than ever will be watching on a second screen. Now in real-time, technology allows brands to engage with the viewing public on their mobile phone or tablet during the event. For instance, Yahoo's Into_Now pioneered app technology that augments the second screen experience by using the unique audio digital signature in a television show to pickup, and serve up, content directly related to that show. CBS estimates ad revenue alone from their second screen engagement to be between $10-$12 Million. Being able to interact with stats, player bios, team formations, highlights and social aspects is an essential part of any second screen approach for the sports enthusiast.

Regardless of all of the hype, a few certainties remain. The Super Bowl represents one of the highest risk: reward ratios in advertising. Because of this, marketers are getting smarter by using not only the right tools, but also the right content to get the consumer's attention. Disintermediation is taking effect and the consumer is finally starting to see large-scale control of and connection with their favorite brands. As our society gets more social and mobile, so does the advertising.

Needless to say, as an advertiser, I am thankful for the Super Bowl. If not for any other time during the year - the Super Bowl gives us an annual magnified window into the progress of advertising. With so much attention to the commercials, it almost makes me feel sorry for the guys on the field.


Super Sunday: In Shameless Pursuit of Likes

Just moments after the confetti cannons coughed up their last shred of celebration, I had to do it. Like looking through my fingers at a horror movie, my laptop revealed the USA Today Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter Top 5 (voting ends Tuesday with official results due Wednesday).

Dog, dog, baby, dog, dog.

Weego is a cute little fellow with a clever enough name, but somewhere in doggie heaven, Alex from Stroh's is showing his teeth. Never went anywhere unexpected. Classy nod to rescue dogs though. Good save.

In second and third, Doritos spots that come to us from, well, not us. Agency creatives were spared the trouble. Keep playing ping pong in your skinny jeans, kids. EveryMan is on the case. Hmmm, so if Joe the Plumber wrote these, why do they feel like slick, formulaic Super Bowl spots?

In fourth, a Skechers-wearing French bulldog makes greyhounds eat wake. But just before the finish, he pops it into reverse and moonwalks across to Tone Loc's "Wild Thing". And just when I'm thinking, "I bet Tone hates the moonwalk," Mark Cuban shows up. Of course he does.

Rounding out the Top 5 was VW's Dog Strikes Back. A fun spot within a spot that refers to one of the best spots ever. http://youtu.be/R55e-uHQna0

So there it is. My free critique of work that cost $100K per second to air. Truth is, I respect the hell out of any client and creative willing to expose their brands on advertising's biggest stage. So as a Creative Director in a flyover state who admittedly has never produced his own Super Bowl spot, the least I can do is expose my own Top 5.

In fifth, Audi's "Vampire Party". Aren't we all sick of vampires? O+ now in a pizza box. Daylight now in a headlight.

Honda's "Get Going". Life moves fast, Ferris. Make great spots.

Chevy's "Sonic Anthem" wasn't a laughfest, but for me it was a breakthrough. Not like Apple's "1984" or Monster.com's "When I Grow Up", but they took a risk and did something fresh. Seemed authentic in a time when we're craving authenticity. Loved the music. And if you haven't already, check out letsdothis.com. Wildly impressive video http://youtu.be/MejbOFk7H6c

Chrysler's "It's Halftime America". First Eminem made me want to move to Detroit, now Eastwood is giving me the pep talk of my life? "It's halftime, America. How do we come from behind? Our second half is about to begin." All squinty and inspirational. Count me in, Clint.

And on top, KIA's "Dream Car". Bless that clumsy sandman. Motley Crue, bikinis in the stands, rhino rodeo, lumberjacks sawing a school bus-sized sandwich, Chuck Liddell robot MMA…all before he crashes into his wife's dream to claim her back from some horseback-riding romance novel Romeo. Should I be ashamed? Too late. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHZbXvts0LE

Other thoughts.

Pretty incredible that 11 automakers made an appearance. Seems soda and beer wars have taken a back seat for now

Strangely brilliant and oddly mesmerizing, the Cars.com "Confidence" spot was bizarre enough to make me want more. Reminiscent of Tide's talking stain.

Coke's Polar Bears made a nice nostalgic trio. I wonder if the Packers were playing, would one be wearing a green scarf?

MetLife, good to see Charlie Brown with so many friends. Good grief, some producer certainly earned her money. I even spotted my old pal, Underdog.

Careerbuilder.com took it in-house and went back to the well. Monkeys are still funny. I'm just missing those beautiful little details like lighting cigars with hundys.

The legendary Nurburgring and Laurence Fishburne's voice, but still an emotionless spot for Cadillac. Probably should've trotted out the 556-horsepower grocery getter instead. It is the Super Bowl, after all.

Pepsi Max, you can't beat the original. http://youtu.be/TnXArm-NViI

Acura, can any of us relate to two of the richest car collectors in the world fighting over the first NSX? Not really, but I'm sure Seinfeld fans were howling.

For the record, I don't want undies with Beckham's name on them.

And finally, GoDaddy? Please go away.