Super Bowl Madness - or just an ad contest?

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 2 February 2015

The annual contest between advertisers to see who can come up with the best big-budget campaigns to whet the appetites of sports fans around the world will kick off today – the Super Bowl.

Even if the rest of the world doesn't actually get to see the ads as they're aired, everybody will eventually end up seeing the cream of the crop.

While brands which haven't paid for air-time will be hoping to dominate the conversation online, there's still something about a well-executed big budget TVC which can grab the attention and start the conversation.

We take a quick look at what some of the big players are doing with their TVCs, and what some of the lesser lights are doing as well.

The big boys

Of course, everybody will be watching the big boys for the best of creativity meeting big budget.

Traditionally big advertisers during the game, automotive brands have yet again bought up big with six brands being showcased.

While this is down on previous years, the brands are taking wildly different approaches with their ads.

Toyota has two 60-second spots during the game, centring around its #OneBoldChoice campaign, which focuses on both Paralympian Amy Purdy, and current and ex-NFL stars talking about fatherhood, a running theme in this year's efforts.

It was a theme riffed on by Nissan, which is making its first Super Bowl ad for 18 years. It hasn't yet unveiled its 60-second spot, but it has heavily promoted the hashtag #WithDad and released pre-game video spots about fatherhood.

Meanwhile after four years, BMW is back at the Super Bowl plugging its BMWi3 electric cars. It likens the switch from petrol to electric like switching on the internet all those years ago.

Kia has pulled in the support of an ex-Bond, with Pierce Brosnan fronting a new spot, while Lexus has also paid for a 30-second spot.

Meanwhile, with its sponsorship of the half-time show, people will be looking to see how Pepsi will leverage the opportunity, also running a 30-second spot in the half-time break in the lead-up to the show.

But it's already put out several spots around the “Hyped for Half-Time” theme, demonstrating that the 30-second spot is really only a minor part of the overall campaign leveraging off its sponsorship of the half-time show.

The teaser for the spot itself is now live, with a Pepsi truck and machine seemingly beamed up by aliens over the Arizona desert.

With recent well-publicised sales woes, McDonald's is hoping to improve its image with a new ad, tapping into its revamp of the “I'm Lovin' it” campaign.

It's released a teaser of its Super Bowl ad, in which people react to being told about a 'new form of payment' for their meals.

All will be revealed on Monday.

Meanwhile Doritos will unveil the winner of its crowd-sourced ad campaign, with Australia's own man child in the running for a spot.

Snickers has unveiled an extension of its “You're not you when you're hungry campaign”, with Danny Trejo perfectly cast as a warped Marcia Brady, who is suitably angry after being in the nose with a football.

Trejo/Marcia swears vengeance until she's given a Snickers by her loving parents.

Steve Buscemi makes as appearance as Jan, who's angry about all the attention Marcia is getting.

Elsewhere, we're not sure if T-Mobile's spot with Kim Kardashian West will #breaktheinternet with her #kimsdatastash spot, but the social media darling will star in an ad/ public service announcement for the carrier spruiking its rollover data plan.

And, of course, it wouldn't be the Super Bowl without beer ads, with Anheuser-Busch InBev is taking advantage of its exclusive sponsorship of the Supe rBowl with two ads, one for Bud Light and one for Budweiser.

Both will be hoping to re-capture the magic of previous campaigns, with Budweiser hoping a lost puppy will get people talking and Bud Light pulling another 'up for whatever' stunt – this time a real-life Pac Man challenge, instead of table tennis with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The newbies

With overall bookings down this year and prices for spots reportedly holding more or less steady from last year at a rumoured $4 million per 30-second spot, there's an opportunity for hitherto uninvolved brands to get involved in the TV action.

The new advertisers jumping on board are Carnival Corporation, Mophie, Wix, Avocados from Mexico, Locite, Esurance, Ecuador Tourism, Weight Watchers, and Skittles.

You would think Skittles would have had a big-time game ad by this stage, but as it turns out it's appearing on screens for the first time on Monday.

It hasn't revealed its ad campaign yet, but it has teased it with an ad about four weeks before the game with ex-NFL player Kurt Warner taking part in a tailgating party.

It then released another teaser taking place in what would assume to be a town in Arizona with the tagline “It will be settled”, to take advatange of the fact the game is being played in Arizona.

Another other talking point has been the relatively small size of some of the advertisers coming on board. With the going rate about $4 million for 30 seconds during the game, a decision for glue maker Locite to blow most of its annual advertising budget for 30 seconds.

Meanwhile Ecuador will become the first foreign country to advertise during the game, with a 30 second ad during the halftime break from its tourism board.

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