Fewer Super Bowl advertisers spilling the beans before the big game

By Jeff Cronin

Joe Glennon

In the world of television commercials, the Super Bowl had always been like Christmas morning. Advertisers worked in secret, creating big, splashy television spots to wow the millions upon millions of people watching the big game.

“It used to be that the Super Bowl was the big reveal,” says Joe Glennon, assistant professor of advertising in Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.

In the past few years, Super Bowl advertisers have been trying to figure out how best to use the Internet to add to their campaigns.

“Last year, you probably saw 80 percent of the spots before the Super Bowl,” he says. “This year, I’ve seen a slightly different shift where advertisers like Mercedes and Budweiser are teasing the Super Bowl ads.”

Glennon believes Super Bowl advertisers — who this year will spend approximately $4 million for 30 seconds of time — realized that showing their cards too early dampened the anticipation that usually surrounds these commercials.

“I think that they found last year that the big reveal was gone. They let the cat out of the bag too soon. They lost a lot of the excitement,” he says. “If somebody sees the first two seconds of a commercial and says, ‘Oh I saw that last week on YouTube,’ the other 28 seconds are meaningless.”

Something hot
Glennon points to Mercedes-Benz as an example of a great way to tease an ad. They released this commercial Jan. 19, in which a voice lets viewers know that “something hot is coming” on Feb. 3 – the day of the Super Bowl.

Not the best
Glennon says the hype around Super Bowl ads is just that.

“I don’t know if it’s their best commercials. Maybe it’s their most exciting, biggest-budget, biggest-splash ads,” he says. “Super Bowl commercials are like summer blockbuster movies. Are the Oscars coming out of the summer? No. Are you exciting people? Yes. Are you pleasing a large audience? Yes. But it’s not the best work.”

This year’s trend
Glennon expects more advertisers to transcend the traditional 30-second spot this year and buy a full one or two minutes as a way to ensure their messages are heard.

“You don’t have that noise on either end. You probably can carry most of a commercial break with just your message, so you don’t have that competition. It’s like a clean palate to work with,” he says.

Glennon points to the success of Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” ad from 2012, a two-minute spot that featured a voiceover by Clint Eastwood.

Read Glennon’s analysis of “Halftime in America” here.

Bringing it home
Following the Super Bowl, Glennon will ask his students to analyze the 2013 crop of commercials. They will “reverse engineer” some of the most successful ads to determine “what was on that creative brief that got to that finished product. By doing that, it helps the students when they receive a brief, to work forward and create something interesting,” he says.