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Ads for Super Bowl ads build social-media buzz

12:36 PM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
Image credit: Volkswagen/YouTube
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Don't be shocked if some savvy advertiser soon rolls out a teaser for a Super Bowl ad teaser.

The mania for Super Bowl teasers - call them ads for ads - began last year, with Volkswagen posting a teaser online aimed at driving folks to social media to get hints about VW's Super Bowl game ad.

"A good teaser can become viral," says Steven Posavac, marketing professor at Vanderbilt University. That's what teasers are for: creating viral chatter before The Big Game.

The VW teaser's viral success has many of the game advertisers trying them this year, including Toyota, Taco Bell, Mercedes-Benz, Coke, Cars.com, Kraft Foods, Gildan USA and Procter & Gamble.

But the most anticipated has been VW's, which rolls out today.

VW's two-minute teaser this year features a "greatest hits" of rants and moments of high emotion posted on YouTube. Like the Green Bay Packers fan (2 million views) wailing uncontrollably after her team loses. And even the obese guy (1.5 million views) who destroys his Xbox.

VW shows the moments, then brings the ranters together on a hillside where they rejoice to upbeat music of reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. He re-creates the theme song from TV's The Partridge Family: Come On, Get Happy. The ad ends with the tagline: Get In. Get Happy.

"The social side of the Super Bowl is massive," explains Justin Osborne, general manager of advertising and marketing communications at VW. "Every consumer all of a sudden gets to put on an ad executive's hat."

VW took the trend to the next level last year with its "Bark Side" video - dogs barking the Star Wars theme song. It got about 15 million views.

Teasers must be pretty wacky to get attention because folks can easily tune them out. "It has to be something people really want," says Ian Letts, co-director of the VW spot. (Letts and partner Michael Gelfand are known as The Perlorian Brothers.)

To find the best YouTube rants, VW's ad agency, Deutsch LA, started with 300 videos. It narrowed them down based on who they could find and who wanted to be in the ad.

For some, appearing in the happy VW teaser - after all the negativity of their YouTube rants - "was very cathartic," says Gelfand.

Some other teasers on tap:

• Bleep! This teaser for Kraft's Mio Fit, a zero-calorie customizable sports drink, features comedian Tracy Morgan appearing to utter profanity that gets bleeped out.

• Kinky sex? The YouTube teaser for Gildan's game ad shows a young man waking up in a strange bed, perplexed by the fur handcuffs on his wrist. "It's designed to generate conversation," says Rob Packard, vice president of marketing.

Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY

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