Deutsch LA in Marina del Rey, which does Volkswagen's creative work,… (Volkswagen )
The Big Game might be more than two weeks away, but marketers already are shifting their Super Bowl ad campaigns into overdrive.
To get more bang for their bucks, major advertisers and their advertising agencies are giving previews, running teaser spots and even releasing their ads early to generate chatter on social media platforms.
Deutsch LA, which does the creative work for Volkswagen, let the dogs out this week. The Marina del Rey firm released a "teaser" ad Wednesday for its upcoming Super Bowl spot. With its chorus of barking dogs, "The Bark Side" went viral overnight.
The ad keeps with the "Star Wars" theme that VW began last year when the German automaker scored points with its heart-warming commercial "The Force," which featured a little boy dressed as Darth Vader who used his "powers" to start his parents' VW Passat. "The Force," also created by the Deutsch LA team, rocketed to the top of polls of viewers' favorite ads.
"We have a pretty high bar to meet," said Mike Sheldon, chief executive of Deutsch LA. "The Super Bowl is one of the most effective advertising platforms you can have, and it has become more competitive than ever. 'The Bark Side' was our way to try to stay one step ahead and trump the 70 other advertisers who will be in the Super Bowl. We wanted to get people talking about Volkswagen."
The commercial generated more than 4 million online views in less than 48 hours, faster than "The Force," Sheldon said.
This year there will be added advertising competition among car companies. At least 10 automakers are scheduled to advertise during the game, including Lexus, which plans to run its first Super Bowl ad ever.
Kia Motors America also wants to attract attention for its third Super Bowl ad. The company is planning teasers for its 60-second commercial, created by El Segundo-based David & Goliath, by releasing them in movie theaters beginning Friday. Four days before the Super Bowl, Kia will release the ad "Drive the Dream," which promotes the Kia Optima sedan, in theaters. It is believed to be the first Super Bowl ad unveiled in movie theaters.
"We are trying to continue to push the envelope," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing for Kia Motors America. "Consumers at the movies will start tweeting about the ad, and that should help us build momentum and awareness."
Kia doesn't think the early release will spoil the freshness of the ad — which features Brazilian super model Adriana Lima, fighter Chuck Liddell and the rock band Motley Crue — when it airs on NBC during the game.
"Every year, the Super Bowl audience grows. And if we can tap 5 to 10 million people who see it early, there will still be 100 million people who haven't seen it when it breaks during the Super Bowl," Sprague said. "We are simply trying to create the buzz and get people talking."
The Super Bowl ad stakes are increasingly high. This year, companies are paying NBC an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot during the Feb. 5 championship game. Production costs for each commercial can run another $2 million or more — prompting executives to spend months agonizing over details to make sure their ads pop.
"Definitely the trend is recent years has been to attract more publicity earlier and build buzz in an effort to make their ad an 'event' rather than just another commercial," said Jon Swallen, senior vice president for research at Kantar Media, which tracks advertising.