Here's ClickZ's take on the early Super Bowl advertising highlights this year - and what to look out for on Sunday.
With one of the biggest days in advertising right around the corner, here's a look at what's defining the 2013 Super Bowl ad landscape - which brands already have traction, which advertisers might be a bit disappointed so far and what to look out for on Sunday when you're not watching the game.
Toyota seems to be an early winner with a spot that has netted 8.1 million views, but there's still plenty of action to come, both on and off the field.
Please note: viewership numbers are accurate as of Friday morning, but they are changing rapidly.
The Whole Shebang
Six car manufacturers are among the brands that decided to release full versions of their Super Bowl ads prior to the game.
Audi's 60-second commercial, "Prom," which includes the "Worth It" ending previously chosen by fans, was uploaded January 24 and has racked up 4.2 million views so far.
An extended cut of Mercedes-Benz's "Soul," which features Willem Dafoe, Kate Upton and Usher, had 1.3 million views in three days. (Although a video of Upton washing the very car included in the Super Bowl spot in slow motion has, perhaps not surprisingly, garnered 5.8 million views.)
And Kia's "Space Babies" has 953,000 views since it was posted January 29.
An extended version of Hyundai's "Team," however, falls a bit short of its automotive brethren with 73,000 views.
Playing it Safe
Many brands decided to instead conjure an aura of mystique with teaser ads.
That's followed by footwear brand Skechers, whose "Man vs. Cheetah" teaser has 297,000 views.
But even with the star power brought by Tracy Morgan and Amy Poehler, respectively, water enhancer Mio (164,000) and Best Buy (158,000) are lagging in the teaser views department. However, just one day after launching its star-studded teaser with Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd, Samsung already has 1.7 million views.
Lincoln has also come out with a teaser as the week draws to a close, but its viewership is a more modest 12,000.
Having it Both Ways
And then there are the brands that did both.
At least three have teased and released their Super Bowl spots before the first snap: Taco Bell, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Toyota is another brand that released its complete Super Bowl ad early. The strategy seems to have paid off: Its "Wish Granted" spot with The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco has an incredible 8.1 million views and counting.
Even Toyota's teaser garnered 3.2 million views in a little over a week.
According to Toyota, the spot is "designed to resonate with people who lead active, busy lifestyles but still make time to embrace everyday adventures."
Volkswagen's "Get In. Get Happy." spot comes moderately close with 4.6 million views. And its teaser, "Sunny Side," has a respectable 1.4 million since its January 24 release. The teaser features what Volkswagen calls well-known YouTube sensations singing with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jimmy Cliff.
"We know consumers are excited for what we're going to produce and want to judge it for sure and talk about it -- that's why we released it early," says Justin Osborne, general manager of advertising and marketing communications at Volkswagen.
Digital Content Galore
Plenty of examples abound of brands getting creative to catch consumer eyeballs before kickoff.
To further engage its fans, Hyundai launched a social experience, Find Your 7, that allows consumers to assemble a so-called Super Bowl dream team, assigning some of their best Facebook friends to seats in a virtual car. According to Hyundai, Find Your 7 pre-populates the vehicle based on intelligence gathered from a user's Facebook connections, including frequency of friend interactions, likes, etc. After users lock in their friend configuration and create a team name, a custom video introduces their dream team, assigning each of the seven teammates to their character archetypes: the muscle, the brains, the prankster, the motivational speaker, the technician and the loose cannon. The video incorporates elements such as friends' names, profile pictures, hometowns and interests.
"Taking this concept digitally only made sense as we recognize that Super Bowl viewers are no longer tethered to their TV during the game, but instead sharing and staying connected via mobile phone, tablet and other digital devices," said Hyundai Vice President of Marketing Steve Shannon in a prepared statement.
In a similar vein, Volkswagen launched its happy parade creation app on January 28. In it, users can select Facebook friends based on personality to parade behind a car driven by Cliff, who is featured in its Super Bowl teaser. Options include a Tech Wreck, Cranky Commuter, Sorest Loser, Party Pooper and Persnickety Eater. It's accessible at getingethappy.com.
And then there's the more specific subset of brands seeking fan engagement via contributed content, including votes, images/videos and tweets.
Coca-Cola is seeking fan votes at CokeChase.com or via Twitter for the team it would like to see emerge victorious in an extended version of the teaser ad, which will air after the game.
And in the latest iteration of its Crash the Super Bowl contest, Doritos picked five consumer-generated videos and asked for fan votes on its Facebook page. Two of the videos will air during the game -- one selected by votes and the other by the brand itself.
Other brands are crowdsourcing images and videos for their Super Bowl promotional efforts.
As ClickZ previously reported, Pepsi asked fans to submit images of themselves in pre-determined poses for a chance to appear in an on-air introduction for performer Beyonce. Hundreds of photos submitted with the hashtag #PepsiHalftime will be used in an on-air video introduction to the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show.
For its part, Pizza Hut asked fans to submit football-themed videos of themselves saying, "Hut, hut, hut." The final product includes 18 fan videos and has 132,000 views.
Toyota would perhaps not have the traction it does without its "Get In The Big Game" promotion in which it asked fans to submit photos of themselves to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #wishgranted for a chance for their image to appear in its Super Bowl commercial.
And Bud Light turned a 200-room New Orleans hotel into the Bud Light Hotel and offered fans a chance to win a trip to stay there via the Bud Light Super Bowl Experience at the Bud Light Hotel New Orleans tab on its Facebook page. Bud Light also conducted an open casting call on Facebook to find its official Bud Light Hotel Facebook Correspondent. The brand asked fans to submit videos and like their favorites through a special tab. The winner will receive a salary to appear in a series of videos from the Bud Light Hotel that will air on the brand's Facebook and YouTube pages.
And then there are the brands asking for tweets.
That includes Budweiser, which launched its first Twitter account, @Budweiser, on January 27 and has so far amassed 2,900 followers. Its first tweet included a photo of a 150-pound Clydesdale born January 16. What's more, Budweiser is asking its Twitter followers to use the hashtag #clydesdales to suggest names for the newest member of the Budweiser Clydesdales Class of 2013. Budweiser says its Super Bowl spot, "Brotherhood," will focus on the bond a Clydesdale foal has with his trainer. It marks the Clydesdales' 23rd Super Bowl appearance since their debut in 1986.
In the days leading up to and following the big game, Audi wants fans to share their own brave moments with the hashtag #BraveryWins. According to Audi, its 2011 ad was the first Super Bowl spot to use a Twitter hashtag.
And Lincoln has been crowdsourcing its Super Bowl content with Jimmy Fallon in its #SteertheScript promo. Fallon asked his 7.7 million followers to tweet responses to questions about road trips full of unexpected events, which ultimately determined the script. Lincoln says the best contributions were chosen from more than 6,000 tweets to create a 30-second spot that will run during the third quarter. It comes as part of Lincoln's reinvention strategy as the brand "attracts a new market of individual-minded luxury consumers."
A preview has 12,00 views.
And...Don't Forget to Vote
Some brands are even encouraging fans to sign up to be panelists for USA Today's Ad Meter and vote for their favorite ads. That includes Volkswagen via Facebook, as well as Wonderful Pistachios, which has a Vote for Psy image on its homepage to push its upcoming Gangnam Style spot and also includes a link to the panel registration page. And, for its part, Doritos is offering cash bonuses to the creator or creators if its two ads are ranked 1, 2 or 3 on the Ad Meter.
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In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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