UNDATED: This undated handout image is from one of several new commercials by the Pepsi Company, which will air January 26, 2003 during Super Bowl XXXVII. Super Bowl ads have become an annual tradition for advertisers who try to outdo each other with increasingly elaborate commercials during a time slot that, according to news reports, will cost an average of $2 million for a 30-second spot this year. (Photo by Pepsi Co./Getty Images)
A cast of thousands.
No, that's not the screen credit for the latest Hollywood blockbuster. It describes how many of 2013's Super Bowl commercials are being woven together with a social-media assist from consumers.
Call it the Crowdsourcing Bowl.
Super Bowl advertisers, including Pepsi, Lincoln, Pizza Hut and Doritos, all have reached out to the public via social media for help with their ads to air in the Feb. 3 game.
Some want folks to vote on the ads they like. Others want consumers to create and upload videos. Such opportunities give consumers the illusion that they're in the driver's seat. But the real driver: Advertisers are trying to coax consumers into getting more involved with their brands.
"If you have an emotional attachment to a commercial, you're more likely to sit through it," says Jason Therrien, president of Thunder Tech, a social-media marketing agency.
Consumers who vote on - much less try to create - Super Bowl commercials are more likely to have that attachment, he says. "This is a shtick to create more fodder before the game, and get more out of the huge investment."
Among the crowdsourcing lures:
• You can be in the halftime show. Pepsi has asked fans to submit photos for a video that will air on CBS prior to Beyonce taking the stage at halftime. More than 80,000 have been received. There even will be a crowdsourced halftime show, with 50 winning fans appearing on the field with Beyonce.
"We know that Pepsi fans prefer to live their lives as participants, not just observers," says Angelique Krembs, vice president of marketing.
• You can star in a Game Day TV spot. Pizza Hut is encouraging fans to upload samples of football-themed videos of themselves saying the words every quarterback utters, "Hut. Hut. Hut."
Sure, getting quality content can be difficult, says spokesman Doug Terfehr. But, he notes, it's a platform created to "engage with our fans in a deeper way."
• Your ad can air on The Game. For the seventh year, Doritos will air fan-created Super Bowl ads. Two will air, based on online consumer votes on the five finalists in its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest.
"Crowdsourcing is always a little bit of a gamble," says Ram Krishnan, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay. "But you're giving up control to fans who know your brand best."
• Your tweet can air on The Game. Trying to appeal to a younger generation of buyers, Lincoln has turned to Twitter for attention. It elicited thousands of tweets from consumers about their wackiest-ever road trips. The best have been dramatized and woven into a Super Bowl commercial mashup. "Beginning with this," says Matt VanDyke, director of global Lincoln marketing, "we plan to embrace social media."
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY