LOS ANGELES — The big debate surrounding this year’s Super Bowl is not whether the San Francisco 49ers should be four-point favorites but rather should advertisers release their commercials early.
In the last two years, a growing number of Super Bowl advertisers have unveiled their spots several days before the big game to build excitement on the Internet. Early releases and in some cases minute-long viral videos designed to tease to a Super Bowl commercial are strategic ploys to create an instant social media fan base — acolytes who will spread the word or better yet post a clip of the actual ad on their Facebook pages.
“But now there is a feeling that you get more bang for your buck if you hold the commercial back,” brand strategist Adam Hanft said. “Last year, by the time we rolled into Super Bowl weekend, people were already tired of the spots — before the game even started.”
Advertisers are eager to get the biggest bounce possible from their sizable investments.
CBS sold 30-second spots in this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 3 for an average $3.8 million — up 7 percent over last year’s rate. And some marketers are ordering 60-second spots, a $7.5-million expenditure for the air time on top of the cost of production, which could add an additional $1 million-plus, to the price tag.
Advertisers are divided on whether to release their spots early, according to several interviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
“We have been watching that debate closely,” said Paul Chibe, vice president of U.S. marketing for Anheuser-Busch, the perennial leader of Super Bowl advertising. “This year there are some ads that we are going to hold back and a few that we are releasing early.”
Los Angeles-based Paramount Farms is busy preparing its first Super Bowl ad for its Wonderful Pistachios brand. Last year, Paramount Farm’s sister company Teleflora, released its Super Bowl commercial early — to mixed results.