InBusiness, Weeklies

Brand Bowl

The Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League, is known for its high-profile advertisements that air during its television broadcast in the U.S. The event that generates more than 100 million fans every year is an advertiser’s biggest stage. According to Reuters, a 30- second slot on the television costs $3.5 millions.

“Companies usually create eight to ten commercials over a year,” said James Post, a School of Management professor. “They would usually save slots for major events like Olympics or the presidential nominating conventions. However, the Super Bowl is definitely their top priority.”


One thing was missing during the game yesterday: the element of surprise.

“Most of the premier ads for Super Bowl that [were] aired on NBC on Sunday [were] already turned up on YouTube and the sponsors’ own websites. Some [had] been there for weeks,” said Post.

Volkswagen, for example, released a teaser for the sequel to its previous ad—this time about a dog trying to lose weight, with a “Star Wars” twist at the end—on Jan. 18 on YouTube. The twist goes along with the company’s commercial from last year, featuring a little boy dressed as Darth Vader. The video has already been viewed 11 million times. An extended version of the sequel was uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday; by Friday afternoon, it had been viewed more than 3 million times.

“People can really see how marketing has changed with the social network,” said Post. “Companies used to build anticipation by holding back the ads to the game. Now they try to generate excitement and bring the process of seeing, sharing, and discussion the ads from after the game to before the game.”

Thomas Fauls, a professor in the College of Communication, said this is the first Super Bowl where social media has been integrated in marketers’ plans.

“The arrival of Super Bowl commercials before the game reflects a broader trend across the media of sharing content with consumers ahead of time,” Fauls said.

“Apart from the actual ads, there are teaser videos, preview clips and extended versions with more content that sponsors hope will provide content for pregame conversations and media coverage,” Fauls said.

This is the one time of the year people enjoy talking about advertising.

“I don’t watch football at all. I watch the Super Bowl only for the commercials. They are hilarious,” said Chika Mora, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science.

Michelle Hayward, a sophomore in the College of Communication, would simply go online and watch the advertisements one by one.

“I would go on YouTube and search for the Super Bowl commercials. I don’t think too much about the longevity of the products; the ads are just fun to watch,” Hayward said.


Volkswagen’s ad last year—“May the force be with you”—had everything to grab your attention: a cute little boy, a dog, and a funny plot.

The commercial shows a little boy in a Darth Vader costume trying to use “The Force” on a doll, washer machine and even his pet dog. Finally, he thinks he has succeeded when his dad uses a remote to start the Passat.

“I laughed a million times when I watched this ad,” said Mora. “It’s still one of my favorite Super Bowl ads until today.”

Volkswagen revisited its Star Wars theme during Sunday’s game, only this time with an ad for its Beetle line. The company had released a teaser video for its commercial with dogs dressed as Star Wars characters barking a familiar tone—“The Imperial March.” The teaser ad had over 13 million views prior to Sunday, even though it was just a hint of the actual commercial aired during the game.

Last Wednesday, Volkswagen released a 75-second version of the 60-second Super Bowl ad online staring the dog Bolt. It showed Bolt trying to lose weight so he can chase after a Beetle. Then it cut away to show aliens in the Cantina from “Star Wars” discussing the ads, which is a nice recap of last year’s commercial. The extended version of the ad had generated 3 million views by Friday afternoon and the number continued to grow.

So far, Volkswagen’s move has been successful. Viewers can see how the business is changing.

“I would go on YouTube and preview the ads before the game. And I would watch the extended ads online after they are aired during the game,” said Mora.


With all these commercials appearing online, the Super Bowl seems more like a “Celebrity Bowl.”

H&M is making the ladies blushing by showing David Beckham’s muscular body in the underwear.

Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima showed up not in one, but two Super Bowl spots (Kia and Teleflora).

Middle-aged Matthew Broderick, who reprises his famous Ferris Bueller character in the Honda advertisement, fakes the flu to skip work and spend the day enjoying the sites around Los Angeles.

Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno knocked their heads for a collectible Acura.

Football has not changed, but the ad game certainly has.

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