Highlights of the week leading up to the Super Bowl include: early releases, censorship, live fan auditions, and even a promise from one advertiser to see a woman quit her job in front of millions.
ClickZ published its Super Bowl XLVIII Ad Preview on January 22, but in the flurry of activity leading up to the big game, the advertising landscape has changed significantly even since then.
Here's what's new as of January 31:
According to Google, consumers have more than 70 Super Bowl-related spots to choose from on YouTube and have watched teasers more than 77 million times as of January 30. That's up from 26 million on the same day last year.
Google also says 2013 Super Bowl ads that were released on YouTube before they aired on TV drove approximately 3.4 times more views on average than commercials that were released on game day.
Google rep Crystal Dahlen points to Volkswagen as one of the first brands to start this early release trend with its "Force" spot in 2011. The ad went on to garner 59 million views.
"Since then, brands have seen attention sparked because they released ads early and we're seeing conversations around the Super Bowl starting earlier and earlier and brands creating a digital-first strategy," she says.
As a result, it's possible viewers will start to see Super Bowl ads earlier and earlier in future years -- potentially even as early as December 26.
"I don't think it's far-fetched. We're seeing a Super Bowl creep," Dahlen says. "I think we're definitely seeing brands wanting to capture the mindshare...just waiting for the day [of the Super Bowl] is kind of like waiting to do holiday advertising until Christmas Eve."
Budweiser Puppy Love
One brand clearly benefiting from the early release strategy is Budweiser, whose "Puppy Love" spot is already up to 24.2 million views just two days after it was posted. We can see why...oh so cute!
Hyundai Plays Nice
Another brand is Hyundai, which actually released two spots ahead of the game.
One, "Nice," which features actor Johnny Galecki and comedian Richard Lewis, has 7.6 million views since it was posted January 27.
Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing for Hyundai, says the brand is returning for its seventh year, so, "We feel like veterans."
He says the brand took two different approaches with its "Nice" and "Dad's Sixth Sense" spots for its Elantra and Genesis models. ("Dad's Sixth Sense" has about 617,000 views.)
"In the Super Bowl, you get everybody," Shannon says. "Not only do you get 130 million people, you get a surprising number of women," which he says is "darn close to 50/50, which is different than other sports."
Over the course of the years Hyundai has advertised in the Super Bowl, Shannon says the brand has learned to release spots early because "we've found there's an unlimited appetite for Super Bowl content and commercials. There's really almost no such thing as too early."
He also points out that even an impressive 10 million views before the game is still a small fraction of the number of people who actually watch the game.
In addition, Shannon says Hyundai didn't do teasers because "we found people want to watch the spots at the end of the day, so let's focus on the actual commercials in production and driving people to YouTube to watch the actual spots and not spend a lot of time with teasers."
SodaStream and Scarlett
Home carbonation system SodaStream is also benefiting from early attention. Its "Sorry Coke and Pepsi" spot featuring actress Scarlett Johansson has 6.9 million views since it was posted on January 27.
That's already more than 1 million views more than the brand's banned 2013 commercial that went viral.
This year, SodaStream was asked to remove one line of its ad that directly mentions its competitors.
"Our strategy is simply to communicate to consumers that there exists a better-for-you alternative to packaged soda," writes Nirit Hurwitz, global brand-building communications manager at SodaStream, in an email. "The mention of our competitors is done in a light-hearted way that adds to the humor of the ad, and as comparative advertising is allowed and frequently seen during the Super Bowl, we were shocked and disappointed that there was any issue with the mention."
Google's Dahlen says another promotional tactic some brands use is to try to get their ads banned to drive attention and therefore online viewership, which could be the case here.
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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.
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