by: Amanda Grieshaber

Due to the surging popularity of social media in recent years, Super Bowl sponsors have significantly changed their methods of advertising by revealing their ads online before the game – does exposure to Super Bowl commercials on social media networks actually affect consumers?

The idea of previewing or fully releasing the Super Bowl ads online before the game really became popular after widespread success of the 2011 Super Bowl Volkswagen Passet commercial, “The Force.”  Due to aggressive online promotion by VW the ad became viral in a matter of days.  By game time Sunday the spot had been viewed on YouTube over 10 million times.  There was no question that “The Force” won the online Super Bowl ad battle of 2011 – it knocked it’s competitors off of their feet before they even had a chance to stand up.  And, by the end of the year, the VW Super Bowl commercial had become the most-watched ad on YouTube, with more than 49 million views, humiliating the competition even more.

Companies could not brush off the success of Volkswagen’s 2011 commercial and the eruption of social media attention it spawned. It is evident by the differences in behavior from 2011 Super Bowl Sponsors, that the 2012 Super Bowl sponsors attempted to re-create the same success as “The Force” ad from last year by increasing online promotion of their ads and teasing content before the game.

Volkswagen's 2011 Super Bowl Ad "The Force"

This new concept of teasing content in advance now challenges the long-held belief among marketers that Super Bowl commercials should be kept secret until they run during the game. Therefore, I dare to ask the question: Does pregamming the Super Bowl commercials give consumers the perfect buzz or a nauseating hangover?

Supporters of Super Bowl commercial teasers encourage viewers to look for
the spot when it turns up during the game. By previewing parts or even the entire commercial before the game,  companies are hoping to generate momentum and further engage consumers, which Super Bowl ads in the past have apparently failed to do. Advocates of the teasers suggest that adding social components to the viewing experience strengthens the relationship with the viewer, creating a feeling of “companionship” with the company. They believe that by partnering with a social media network, like Facebook or Youtube, they will be able to extend the celebration and excitement of their ad.

Have Super Bowl Commercials Lost Their Thrill?

Critics of Super Bowl teasers assert that one of the best things about the Super Bowl commercials used to be that they were new and exciting.  Companies made fresh and elaborate advertisements for the game knowing the extensive audience it brings.  They still do that now, but the value and charm of the Super Bowl commercials are completely lost when they are released early online. If someone has watched all of commercials before the big game, they’re not going to have any problem using the commercial breaks to go to the bathroom, or refill their food or drinks. When Super Bowl ads lose their appeal and fascination, what else have they got going for them? The Super Bowl commercials released before the game become no different than the ads consumers see every day of the year on all television shows – I think that is the last thing that any company who spends the big bucks for a Super Bowl commercial would ever want.

For these reasons, I dare not to actually settle question of whether releasing Super Bowl commercials before the game excites or annoys consumers, but I leave it up to you, as consumers, to decide.


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Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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