Super Bowl 2013: The marketing trends, and five early ads

The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. For American football lovers it’s an opportunity to watch the two champion teams of the season go head-to-head – but for marketers it’s almost like a study tour.

Super Bowl advertising has a long and rich history. With tens of millions of people watching the game every year, every second of advertising counts. Each year businesses come up with more ways to out-do each other when it comes to Super Bowl ads, which cost on average about $US3.8 million for a 30-second spot. That’s up from $US3.6 million last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But they aren’t just gimmicks. Super Bowl ads have produced some of the industry’s most iconic images – like the 1983 Apple commercial that debuted the Macintosh.

Celebrity endorsements and pop culture references are usually big drawing cards, but every year the Super Bowl advertisements bring something new to the table. Here’s a few trends to observe from this year’s suite of ads:

Longer advertisements

Given the cost of advertising, most Super Bowl commercial participants tend to keep their shorts to 30 seconds. But this year a few companies are extending their time. Samsung has spent $15 million on a two-minute ad featuring actors Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, while according to the Los Angeles Times, about 20% of the ads this year will run for one minute or more – up from 10% last year. While more expensive, it’s a good strategy to block out competitors.

Early release

More and more ads are being released early, (hit the next page for some examples). As the ads constitute events in and of themselves, it makes sense for businesses to extend the buzz by releasing some online early. It’s a good strategy, and it works, but some advertising experts now believe extending the life of the ad can dilute its impact on Super Bowl day.

Customer participation

Over the last few years, more companies have been attempting to include customers in the creation of Super Bowl ads. Last year, Doritos got the nod from experts for allowing customers to create their own ads, while this time Pepsi has taken the customer-interaction approach by having people send in pictures of themselves that could show up in an ad featuring pop star Beyonce.

Others are getting in on the action – Pizza Hut has asked customers to send videos of themselves saying the words “Hut! Hut! Hut!” Toyota has already asked people to submit photos on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag “#wishgranted”.

The motivating factor here is simple – if people think they’re going to show up in an advertisement, they’re going to sit through the whole thing.

Multi-channel

Part of that customer interaction shows companies are more willing to adopt multi-channel strategies. But businesses aren’t just using social media. Days before the event, Coke has been asking people to vote for which ending they want to see on its advertisement. Target isn’t even showing an ad, but has published an app instead.

Social

This isn’t so much a trend as the culmination of one, but nearly every company advertising through the Super Bowl this year has at least some social component, whether it’s asking people to take part in the ads themselves or just seeing their reaction. It’s clear social networking isn’t just a tacked-on feature – it’s now a default part of the advertising itself.

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