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Few surprises in Super Bowl ads

  • Article by: MAE ANDERSON
  • Associated Press
  • February 1, 2013 - 7:41 AM

NEW YORK - So much for surprises.

The majority of the 30-plus Super Bowl advertisers have been releasing their spots in the days leading up to the game. So it's unlikely there'll be lots of action off the football field to make viewers drop their jaws on Sunday.

Advertising fans already can catch a glimpse of "Spider-Man" actor Willem Dafoe in a Mercedes-Benz ad. They can watch a baby Clydesdale grow up in an Anheuser-Busch commercial. They even can spot old people partying in a Taco Bell ad.

Gone are the days when Super Bowl spots were closely-guarded secrets. With the growth of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's no surprise that more advertisers are releasing ads online up to a week or more before Game Day.

In recent years, more advertisers have been making their spots public before the Big Game. This year, 26 of the 35 or so advertisers have released their spots, with more reveals expected, according to YouTube.com.

Companies have good reason for doing this. Last year, Super Bowl ads released early were watched 600 percent more times — with 9.1 million average views — than ones released after the game, according to YouTube.com, which hosts advertisers' commercials on its site.

"The conversation has gone from Monday morning around the water cooler to social media, so basically what that means is there's no downside in showing your cards early and getting people to talk about it and starting up some buzz," said Charlie Warzel, staff writer at Adweek Magazine.

Still, Warzel said not everyone likes seeing ads early. "There are a lot of people who want to be surprised and can't help but see these things floating around the Internet or picked up by news agencies. So the element of surprise is taken away."

To be sure, a few companies are betting that there's still cachet in making the "big reveal." The few advertisers that are staying mum this year are hoping they can accomplish what Chrysler did last year — its two-minute halftime spot featuring Clint Eastwood was so unexpected that it was one of the most memorable ads of the game.

"Last year, Chrysler shocked everyone with a Clint Eastwood ad no one knew about," said Barbara Lippert, a columnist at mediapost.com. "This year, no one knows what Chrysler is doing."

Besides Chrysler, companies that haven't revealed their spots yet include Mondelez' Oreo and Research In Motion's BlackBerry. All the companies have so far declined to discuss their plans for Super Bowl publicly.

"Oreo has developed this ad for the Super Bowl and, as such, it's only fitting that it debuts during the Super Bowl," according to an Oreo statement.

That hasn't stopped ad experts from speculating. "Oreo's advertising might really hit the mark because people are tired of sex and beer," Lippert, the columnist, said. "Blackberry's commercial is coming from a British agency so I have high hopes for it."

Procter & Gamble's Tide also hasn't released its ad, but it has given some details. For instance, the company said that the ad will include both teams in the Super Bowl — the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens — and discuss stains that might be worth keeping.

"We feel that the magic of the ad would be lost if we revealed it before its slot in the game," said Chris Lillich, the company's associate marketing director.

There might also be some surprises from advertisers that have already released ads. Experts say some companies may tinker with their plans.

Something to watch for, Lippert said: Whether Volkswagen changes its Game Day spot that features a Minnesotan man with a Jamaican accent, which faced some criticism in the days leading up to the Super Bowl from some people who deemed it culturally insensitive.

"There might be some surprises and last-minute changes," Lippert said.

© 2014 Star Tribune