NBC won’t televise Super Bowl XLIX for more than a month, but advertisers have already commenced what has become the inevitable rush to promote their participation in the event weeks before most fans have even started working on a game-day menu.
Doritos, part of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay snacks unit, has already put out its annual call for amateur submissions for ad concepts that will air during the Super Bowl next February 1. And Web-service company GoDaddy is expected to announce Monday that is has selected a nine-week old golden retriever to star in its planned ad for the 2015 gridiron classic alongside spokeswoman Danica Patrick, as well as the fact that the pooch needs a name. Fans will be asked to submit ideas before t the company starts shooting on Thursday – that’s the commercial, not the dog.
In doing so, GoDaddy seems to be kicking off what has become the de rigueur thing to do for Super Bowl advertisers since 2011: Get started early. “it really feels like the conversation has moved into the pre-game part of things,” said Barb Rechterman, GoDaddy’s chief marketing officer, in an interview. “At the game, people are pretty much done talking about it” (Doritos will not unveil its finalists until January).
Three years ago, in December of 2011, Volkswagen sparked reams of pokes, likes, tweets and shares by posting online a clever Super Bowl ad in which a child pretends to be Darth Vader. The ad notched 10 million online views before the Super Bowl started.
Sensing that social media can help them gain millions of dollars in free publicity for ads that cost millions of dollars just to put on the air (NBC is seeking $4.4 million to $4.5 million for a 30-second ad in next year’s game), most advertisers followed the trail of Volkswagen’s exhaust. Only a few, like Chrysler Group, still keep the content of their Super Bowl ads under wraps until the last minute.
Last year, freshman Super Bowl sponsor Jaguar kicked things off in mid-November by running a “teaser” ad that offered viewers a look at the theme it had chosen for its debut commercial.
GoDaddy is best known for Super Bowl ads featuring scantily-clad actresses but the company has in fact been one of the early leaders of the pre-game trend. For several years, the company would make early versions of its ads available online, hoping to galvanize fans to push TV networks to allow the saucy commercials on air without demanding revisions.
“Building up and educating people about the commercial gets the engagement via social media,” said GoDaddy’s Rechterman. “And that has become really fruitful in advance of the game.”
Critics note that the new method has ruined much of the surprise of the ads in the most recent Super Bowl Sundays. GoDaddy intends to maintain an element of surprise, said Rechterman, even as it urges fans to pick the dog’s name, and in days to come, gives them a chance to follow the pup on social media. She promises a humorous twist to the Super Bowl ads that will not be disclosed until the spot runs next February 1.