With 30 teams eliminated, the odds are that most consumers will not see their favorite NFL teams play in Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2. But, as has long been the case, the promise of quality advertising content still glows brightly on the horizon.
Like Oreo's infamous power outage tweet last year, the 2014 Super Bowl ad landscape will once again include winners. And, unfortunately for some brands that shell out $4 million per 30 seconds of air time, it will inevitably include its losers, too.
It's still anybody's guess who will be the next Oreo, but, for now, Super Bowl XLVIII promises new players, new features, new strategies, new faces, Muppets, a Full House reunion -- and maybe even a Seinfeld reunion, too, if some reports are true.
Here's how the landscape is shaping up so far:
Among the new players in the Super Bowl ad game this year is British luxury auto manufacturer Jaguar, which will debut a 60-second commercial, "Rendezvous," featuring British actors Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong during the second half.
The spot will launch what the brand calls its British Villains campaign, which will run through July and introduce the U.S. to Jaguar's F-Type Coupe, a new high-performance sports car.
"With the three renowned actors, Sir Ben, Tom, and Mark, who have all played memorable film rogues, we have brought together the best of British film to star in a major motion picture caliber campaign that addresses the simple cultural observation that Brits often play the best villains in film," says Jeff Curry, brand vice president of Jaguar North America, in a statement. "This talent, coupled with the direction of Academy Award-winner director Tom Hooper, enables us to launch our campaign for the F-Type Coupe in a manner that captures the new spirit of the entire brand inspired by our latest sports car."
A 30-second preview will debut online January 28.
In the meantime, Jaguar has also previewed the spot with a video called"The Setup." It debuted during the CBS and Fox NFL Divisional Playoff games on January 11 and 12.
As of January 21, "The Setup" has 69,000 views.
Consumers are invited to view "The Setup" on Jaguar's British Villains website and to use the hashtag #GoodToBeBad to engage with the brand throughout the campaign.
Not unexpectedly, consumers can expect to see many more hashtags in 2014. According to media monitoring and marketing firm Kantar Media, the incidence of ad hashtags grew last year to 41 percent, or 26 out of a total of 63 ads, which was up from 10 percent in 2012. (Also according to Kantar, Twitter says ad hashtags generated 300,000 tweets on game day, or an average of 11,500 per commercial.)
Another newcomer is cereal brand Cheerios, which revealed its Super Bowl plans in a December blog post.
In it, parent company General Mills wrote, "While Cheerios isn't ready to reveal just yet what the storyline of the commercial will be, who will be in it, or precisely when you will see it during the game (in the first ‘unscheduled time-out'), we can tell you that Cheerios is quite proud of its message."
Further, General Mills says the new commercial is being produced by the same team responsible for other recent Cheerios ads with a shared theme of "the power of family love and the important role that Cheerios and breakfast can play in building family connections."
In addition, website publishing platform Squarespace has debuted a teaser of its first Super Bowl ad, "A Better Web Awaits."
As of January 21, the video has 13,000 views.
Other reported first-time advertisers include Greek-style yogurt brand Chobani, Indian auto manufacturer Tata Motors, and Swiss food and beverage brand Nestle.
The big game will also feature relatively new faces, such as ketchup brand Heinz, which will be making its second appearance -- and its first since 1998.
"America's favorite ketchup has been a mainstay in national celebrations for generations, inspiring unique, happy memories associated with the iconic brand," Heinz says in a press release. "As such, the advertisement will highlight the belief that when someone picks up a bottle of Heinz Ketchup, they're triggering all the happy memories they've experienced over the years where Heinz was present."
The effort is part of the brand's "Show Us Your Heinz" campaign, which asks consumers to share how they use Heinz products.
After dipping its toe into the water last year, home beverage carbonation system SodaStream is pulling out the big guns in 2014 by naming actress Scarlett Johansson its first global brand ambassador. The partnership will kick off with a Super Bowl ad.
A behind-the-scenes video with Johansson has 550,000 views.
Johansson isn't the only famous face with a new Super Bowl gig.
Beer brand Bud Light, which is teasing a "Whatever Is Coming" campaign with the hashtag #UpForWhatever, includes not one but two teaser videos with none other than former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. These videos have combined viewership of about 2 million as of January 21.
The campaign also includes actor Don Cheadle in a teaser of his own with about 800,000 views.
Anheuser-Busch says it will have a total of five new ads during Super Bowl XLVIII with a combined 3.5 minutes of air time.
Budweiser's infamous Clydesdales, which were included in one of the most popular 2013 spots, will be featured in two of Anheuser-Busch's commercials -- including one that ups the cute ante with a 10-week-old puppy.
And, following in South Korean sensation Psy's footsteps, political satirist and Comedy Central kingpin Stephen Colbert is lending his talents to pistachio brand, Wonderful Pistachios, in two Super Bowl spots that will kick off a year-long partnership between the two dubbed "Get Crackin', America."
The New Playbooks
After grossing out America last year when model Bar Rafaeli emphatically kissed a nerd, Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company GoDaddy is returning for its 10thSuper Bowl, but said it will not feature any "risqué innuendo" in either of its two spots this year.
"At least one," however, will still feature racecar driver Danica Patrick, who GoDaddy says is the reigning champ of celebrity Super Bowl commercial appearances.
"GoDaddy's marketing has evolved with the company's overall transformation under new chief executive Blake Irving, who is committed to maintaining GoDaddy's edge, but in a way that speaks inclusively to the customer base and demonstrates the value the company provides to small businesses and entrepreneurs," the brand says in a press release.
Another brand with a slightly new direction: candy brand Butterfinger, which is teasing its new Butterfinger Cups product with #CupTherapy videos.
Butterfinger teased a much more suggestive spot with a similar couples therapy theme, but the video is no longer available via YouTube.
And Swedish fashion brand H&M says it will feature a 30-second spot with soccer star David Beckham "featuring never-before-seen technology from Delivery Agent" that will allow viewers with Samsung Smart TVs to buy pieces from the brand's David Beckham Bodywear instantly through their TVs.
The Home Team
But, never fear, there will be plenty of familiar faces, too.
German auto manufacturer Audi will have a 60-second spot featuring its new A3 model in the first in-game break after the third quarter kick-off.
Another German auto manufacturer, Volkswagen, will also return with a "2014 Game Day commercial and social media support that will build on the brand's tradition of sharing simple, human stories."
"This year, Volkswagen is excited to thrill audiences with a new spot that is uniquely Volkswagen," the brand says.
That includes German engineers, babies, puppies, pretty girls, beefcakes, groin hits, balloons, confetti, a Lincoln impersonator, and mayhem, per a teaser video.
For its part, Toyota has teamed up with the Muppets to cross-promote its Highlander model and the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted movie, which releases March 21.
Toyota posted a trailer on January 21 as a teaser for its 60-second gameday spot.
According to the brand, the Muppets will teach actor Terry Crews' character "a thing or two about ‘unborifying' his lifestyle as they ‘borrow' his sweet ride, the Toyota Highlander."
Toyota promises "humorous hijinks, dancing, and surprises" and also notes "no Muppet caper would be complete without an original song."
What's more, viewers will see that "with seating for up to eight human passengers or more than a dozen Muppets, the all-new Toyota Highlander has plenty of room for everything - everything except boring."
"Our game-day spot shows how Toyota Highlander puts the 'fun' in function," said Jack Hollis, vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in a statement. "Toyota vehicles are built to last and can even endure the most boisterous Muppets, a former NFL player, as well as a center console full of chickens."
In addition to the commercial, the Muppets will provide real-time updates as they travel to the big game in their Toyota Highlander on February 2, the brand says. Fans are invited to chat live with the Muppets on Super Bowl Sunday by using #NoRoomForBoring.
According to Kantar Media, the 2013 Super Bowl featured 12 ads from nine auto brands with a price tag of $92 million. The 2014 game is expected to see similar action from the auto industry. Additional players with Super Bowl ads include Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Kia, Kantar says.
In addition, yogurt brand Dannon says its Oikos Greek label will return to the Super Bowl as "a reflection of Dannon's continued commitment to growing Americans' enjoyment of yogurt and the company's Oikos brand, which has more than doubled since the first time Dannon advertised during the Super Bowl in 2012."
This year, expect to see Oikos spokesman John Stamos reunited with his Full House costars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier, per a teaser that Oikos posted to YouTube on January 20, which also invites fans to visit OikosBromance.com and to use the hashtag #FuelYourPleasure.
Another strategy familiar to consumers after previous years is PepsiCo snack brand Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl contest, which asks consumers to submit their own ads and then vote on finalists.
Two of the ads will air during the Super Bowl -- one selected by votes and one by the Doritos team.
Another company asking for consumer submissions and votes is financial and tax preparation software company Intuit, which launched its Small Business Big Game campaign in July 2013.
Small Business Big Game will reward one small business with a 30-second Super Bowl ad.
The promotion asked small business owners to tell their company story in 600 characters or less on the campaign website. After a public vote and input from Intuit employees, the businesses were narrowed down to four.
Another vote will determine which business will be advertised during the third quarter.
The Early Winners
In addition to Doritos' "Finger Cleaner," perhaps another early winner is men's care brand, Axe, which is pushing a new line of products under the moniker Axe Peace with a 60-second spot that "is a collection of global vignettes that cinematically depict the campaign's theme of ‘make love, not war' and includes an inspirational call to action: #KissForPeace," the brand says.
After debuting January 14, the ad has about 2.9 million views.
In addition, Axe says it is asking consumers to "spread awareness for peace worldwide" by tagging photos of kisses with the hashtag #KissForPeace and sharing them online. The photos will be displayed on a billboard in Times Square from January 27 to February 9 and will be featured on AxePeace.com starting February 10.
Not to be outdone, halftime sponsor Pepsi is also getting fans "Hyped for Halftime" with a month-long campaign, including a new ad that "imagines how the very first Super Bowl ‘halftime' came to be."
Pepsi's There Since the First #Halftime video has 1.3 million views.
According to Kantar, exposure through on-screen billboards, verbal mentions from announcers, and stage signage during the halftime performance will yield about four minutes and 31 seconds of exposure time for Pepsi based on historical averages, which works out to $7.2 million in sponsorship media value.
*ClickZ will be covering the Super Bowl live on Sunday, Feb 2. Stay tuned for updates as they happen and follow our tweetboard for tweets in real-time!
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her 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.
March 19, 2014