While I don't know who will win next week's Super Bowl game between the Seahawks and the Broncos, I can say with certainty that, for many, the best part of the game will be the commercials. Advertisers have a lot at stake, paying nearly $4 million for the average 30-second spot, and they are leaving little to chance. They don't just pick their best commercial and hope it catches our eye on Super Sunday -- they start promoting the spots online and on television in advance. Yes, that's right, we now have commercials promoting the commercials.
Budweiser, the king of Super Bowl advertisers, will show a series of spots promoting Bud Light via the tagline "Whatever Is Coming." We know one spot includes Arnold Schwarzenegger playing ping-pong dressed like Bjorn Borg. Another promo features actor Don Cheadle with a llama. And yet another claims to have 412 actors, 58 hidden cameras, five rock stars (looks like Maroon 5), four celebrities and one "unsuspecting guy." I'm not sure what "Whatever" is, but Bud Light will explain it a week from Sunday.
The promo videos have already had more than 3.5 million views, and the Arnold spots began running during the NFL playoffs.
Why are Super Bowl ads such a big deal? Answer: eyeballs. This year's game will likely be one of the most watched television broadcasts of all time with more than 109 million viewers. The Super Bowl generates more ad revenue than all seven games of the World Series or all three games during the NCAA Final Four weekend.
The large audience draws top-tier advertisers that use the game as an influential branding platform, and the commercials themselves are now an integral part of the Super Bowl watching experience. People don't change the channel during the Super Bowl, and they are less likely to go to the kitchen for extra dip during game breaks.
When you combine it all together, you get a massive, committed audience watching DVR-proof live sports. It makes for valuable air time.
To get the most of the big investment, some advertisers are turning their 30-second spots into large scale multimedia events. Intuit, maker of accounting software QuickBooks, is letting the public vote to select one small company's commercial to appear during the Super Bowl. All four finalists are neat small businesses, but I particularly like the commercial for Poop - All Natural Dairy Compost.
Speaking of potty humor, Doritos has a contest to "Crash the Super Bowl." The chip maker is letting the public vote on fan-made commercials, and the winner will appear during the big game. The videos have been viewed more than six million times. My favorite is one called "Time Machine," but my son cast his vote for a spot called "Finger Cleaner." He's eleven, so brace yourself.
Not to be outdone, Pepsi is suggesting that halftime isn't just for halftime anymore. To promote the Pepsi-sponsored mid-game concert featuring Bruno Mars (I expect he will be great, by the way), Pepsi produced teaser ads which have already been running online. The soft drink maker also held a "pre-halftime show" concert in Milligan, Nebraska. Wait, what? Yep, it seems that Milligan is halfway from one side of the country to the other. Pepsi invaded the town of 275 residents and brought in country star Lee Brice as the headliner for a one-time show. The videos have earned more than two million hits and counting.
If you want to get in on the fun, visit the Doritos and Intuit sites and cast your vote. You can also watch many of the teaser ads on YouTube's Ad Blitz channel - which has conveniently aggregated many of the promotional videos.
I hope you enjoy the game because I already know you will like the commercials. Let me know which ones you are most eager to see.
Follow John P. David on Twitter: www.twitter.com/johnpdavid