Super Bowl ‘Ad-stravaganza’ Preview

By Lori Turner-Wilson

With one of the most watched television broadcasts in history just days away, buzz is building to a frenzy over which big brands will take home Best in Show in this year’s Super Bowl advertising competition.

While there will certainly be much to watch on the field with the Manning vs. Sherman showdown, Bloomberg Business reports audience levels for commercials are higher than for the game itself.

An estimated 48 percent of U.S. TV households, or more than 108 million viewers, are projected to tune in to Super Bowl XLVIII. No other advertising opportunity offers such a broad reach, which is why a single 30-second spot carries a $4 million price tag, up from $3.8 million last year.

So, how can a single broadcast consistently demand ever-increasing prices from advertisers? While it sounds absurdly expensive, consider that the cost per viewer is actually in line with other prime time television spots – roughly $35 per 1000 viewers. Plus, savvy brands are learning how to expand their Super Bowl ad buy into a multi-week campaign through supporting digital/social and public relations efforts.

The Adobe Digital Index team predicts that mobile video viewing (via tablet or phone) will double on Super Bowl Sunday compared to a traditional game day. In addition, Super Bowl advertisers will see a projected 20 percent increase in website visits on the day of the game and maintain higher traffic than normal for the next week. So you’ll see even more advertisers supplementing their Super Bowl ad spend this year with mobile-optimized digital video content on their websites, allowing them to reach a more targeted audience in a more measurable way.

That’s no doubt why CarMax created two versions of its “Slow Clap” spot. In the first, a customer is slow-clapped across the city as he drives home with his savvy CarMax purchase. The second version, only available online, is called “Slow Bark,” where the brand recreates the ad with puppies. Why puppies you may ask? Historically dogs, horses, babies and polar bears have performed well in Super Bowl advertising.

You’ll see some surprising, first-time big-game advertisers this year, such as floor mat manufacturer WeatherTech, which has aspired to advertise in the big game for years. And some regulars are gone; say goodbye to the E-trade baby.

You’ll see some brands capitalizing on prior year campaign successes such as H&M’s new twist on their David Beckham underwear ad from last year. An interesting, new layer of viewer engagement this year will allow Samsung smart TV viewers to buy the product via their remote controls.

Look for some first-time celebrities such as the irreverent Stephen Colbert for Wonderful Pistachios – a switch from Psy in 2012.

Greek yogurt brand Dannon Oikos will have some new competition this year with first-time advertiser Chobani. Dannon is bringing back fan favorite John Stamos, along with former “Full House” cast mates Bob Saget and Dave Coulie.

Coming off of its buzz-worthy “Vampire Party” spot last year, Audi is continuing its atypical auto brand advertising approach with a spot featuring singer Sarah McLachlan in an SPCA-style alert about a couple that must compromise on the breed of dog they select. He wants a Doberman; she wants a Chihuahua. The compromise is a disturbingly shaped “Doberhuahua.”

Look for Budweiser to bring back the popular horse trainer from last year that bonded so memorably with the Clydesdale colt. This year will include another emotional tug at the old heartstrings as a Clydesdale and puppy bond. Another of the brand’s spots will pay tribute to soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

Pepsi altered its brand strategy by focusing on the master brand versus product line extensions like Pepsi Next or PepsiMax. It has also limited its ad spend to a single spot, supplemented by the half-time performance sponsorship.

Coca-Cola has pre-released one of its ads, called “Going All the Way,” that is sure to connect with families across the nation. It’s the perfect underdog story of a scrawny kid on the football team who overcomes the odds to score the big touchdown. While this is a global brand, the ad reminds us how deeply the brand is rooted in small town America.

Body spray line Axe will air a controversial “make love not war” ad that will no doubt create buzz.

While it’s too soon to determine the ultimate winners of this year’s grandest of all advertising competitions, watch for those that authentically engage viewers, properly differentiate in a memorable way and create buzz that lasts weeks longer than the game itself. They’ll layer digital and traditional strategies effectively to extend the Super Bowl “bump” and get the most bang from their media buck.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (