By Meg James Los Angeles Times
The big debate surrounding this year’s Super Bowl is not whether the San Francisco 49ers should be four-point favorites, but rather should advertisers release their commercials early.
In the past two years, a growing number of Super Bowl advertisers have unveiled their spots several days before the big game to build excitement on the Internet.
Early releases and in some cases minutelong viral videos designed to tease to a Super Bowl commercial are strategic ploys to create an instant social media fan base.
“But now there is a feeling that you get more bang for your buck if you hold the commercial back,” brand strategist Adam Hanft said. “Last year, by the time we rolled into Super Bowl weekend, people were already tired of the spots — before the game even started.”
CBS sold 30-second spots in this year’s Super Bowl for an average $3.8 million — up 7 percent over last year’s rate. And some marketers are ordering 60-second spots, a $7.5-million expenditure for the air time on top of the cost of production, which could add an additional $1 million-plus, to the price tag.
Advertisers are divided on whether to release their spots early, according to several interviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
“This year there are some ads that we are going to hold back and a few that we are releasing early,” said Paul Chibe, vice president of U.S. marketing for Anheuser-Busch, the perennial leader of Super Bowl advertising.
Los Angeles-based Paramount Farms is busy preparing its first Super Bowl ad for its Wonderful Pistachios brand and it has a potent weapon: Psy, the South Korean rapper and Internet sensation who notched 1 billion views of his “Gangnam Style” video on YouTube. In Wonderful Pistachio’s Super Bowl ad, Psy sports a pistachio-green tuxedo jacket.
Paramount Farms hopes its ad will go viral — during the game.
“From a marketing standpoint we feel we can have a lot more talk value and punch” by holding back,
“What’s a better ‘big reveal’ than unveiling your commercial before 100 million people who are viewing it all at once?” said Marc Seguin, vice president for marketing for Paramount Farms.
Mike Sheldon, chief executive of Deutsch LA, has a different view. His ad agency created much excitement last year for its “Star Wars”-themed Super Bowl commercial by releasing a minutelong teaser video, “The Bark Side,” with barking dogs in “Star Wars” costumes a couple of weeks before the game.
“You’d be crazy not to release early,” Sheldon said.
Last week, Deutsch LA released a teaser for its upcoming Taco Bell commercial, which features a wild 87-year-old geezer taking an electric cart on a joy ride. The teaser video on YouTube already has logged nearly a quarter-million views.