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Super Bowl Ads: Teasers Reveal a Few New Strategies


The world's biggest companies are planning to make some interesting pitches while you eat chicken wings.

Next Sunday, one of the greatest competitions in the history of mankind will take place. Countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears will be summed up in the space of a few hours. Millions of dollars will be at stake. Also, there will be some kind of football game.

I'm talking, of course, about the Super Bowl advertisements, which are costing an average of $3.8 million for a 30-second spot this year. That's usually considered money well-spent; companies like Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW) and GoDaddy have used Super Bowl spots as a springboard to national prominence, and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) "1984," aired during Super Bowl XVIII, is widely considered the greatest television advertisement of all time. If you've never watched it, do that now.

Many companies are either leaking their ads for Super Bowl XLVII or releasing teasers for the real ad (below, see Volkswagen's brilliant teaser, starring Jimmy Cliff), and there are a few trends emerging. Let's take a look at this year's big stories in Super Bowl advertising.

Mercedes-Benz (ETR:DAI) is apparently planning a spot featuring model Kate Upton reportedly washing the new Mercedes CLA in slow motion for two minutes. Sure, sex has been a big part of Super Bowl ads before, notably in spots from GoDaddy that have featured (and will feature again in 2013) a leather-clad Danica Patrick, but Mercedes is clearly gunning for a much younger market than usual; Upton is 20 years old and likely to appeal to the male 18-to-35 demographic that Mercedes hopes will buy the CLA, which costs under $30,000, and become lifelong Mercedes buyers. If you're fishing for young men as customers, you could do worse than using Kate Upton as bait.

Budweiser (NYSE:BUD) will introduce its new Black Crown specialty beer with two 30-second spots called "Coronation" and "Celebration" to accompany three and a half other minutes of Anheuser-Busch advertising. The regal trappings stand in stark contrast to the decidedly plebeian ads for other Budweiser products. The "Grab Some Buds" campaign, aimed at a younger crowd, has been a response to the increasing popularity of craft beers among younger consumers (between 2010 and 2011, for instance, there was a 36% increase in the amount of growth from new drinkers among craft beer brands), and the release of Black Crown may signify that Budweiser has acknowledged this shift: that after college, young drinkers may no longer be satisfied with buying sub-par beer.

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) is abandoning the traditional Super Bowl polar bear advertisements this year in favor of a spot called "Mirage" with an interesting twist: online voting on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and other social media sites will determine the winner of a race towards a massive, shimmering Coke bottle in an unspecified desert. The teaser (see below) is a 60-second piece that directs viewers to, and the final piece will reportedly include a tie-in to a Domino's (NYSE:DPZ) ad. This interactivity-not just between company and consumer, but between two companies-is symptomatic of a new trend. This one just may work, but read on for an example that didn't go so well.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) won't be showing an ad this year, even after Chrysler's massive "Halftime in America" spot in last year's lineup. The reason for this notable absence is reportedly that GM is unwilling to swallow a price hike in the wake of its infamous seven-year, $559 million jersey sponsorship deal with Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) that got global marketing executive Joel Ewanick canned.

Even worse, the UK ad that Chevrolet ran instead during the Manchester United-Liverpool match a few weeks ago was met with confusion and anger by UK audiences, who thoroughly rejected even the idea of the rival clubs' logos appearing on the screen together. With so much advertising money tied up in Europe, GM had better learn how to advertise to that audience quickly or risk having spent that money in vain.
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