As anyone with a pulse is certainly aware, we are inching ever closer to one of the most sacred days on the American calendar: Super Bowl Sunday.
And just as the NFL Playoffs are whittling down a field of hungry competitors to two lucky participants, advertising agencies across the globe are cutting excess footage and tweaking taglines in preparation for the industry’s most prominent showcase.
Some 110 million Americans will likely tune in to this year’s game when it kicks off Feb. 2, and you can bet that the world’s biggest brands will be doing everything they can to make a good impression. With a going rate of $US4 million to run a 30-second commercial, they’d be silly not to.
Though many brands and their agencies will no doubt be frantically piecing together their strategies all the way up to gameday, some have started to give us a taste of what we can expect to see in between the action of Super Bowl XLVIII. They include mainstays like Budweiser and unknown newcomers like Squarespace.
We’ve summarized everything we’ve learned here, and we’ll continue to add updates as they become available — right on up until kickoff.
This year's Super Bowl is an especially big one for Bud Light, the official beer of the NFL. Amid slipping sales, Bud Light will introduce a new tagline -- 'The Perfect Beer For Whatever Happens' -- in three ads totaling 2 minutes of airtime.
In the coveted A1 spot, the first ad of the first quarter, Bud Light will promote its new reclosable bottle with a 30-second ad, called 'So Cool,' from the St. Louis agency Cannonball. The ad will feature the world debut of a song from a well-known artist. Bud Light has also said the ad will offer consumers some sort of 'digital reward'.
Bud Light's other attraction comes in the form of a 60-second ad and a 30-second ad that together will tell a cohesive story called 'Epic Night'. The first Super Bowl work from BBDO since it was named Bud Light's agency of record earlier this year, 'Epic Night' will seek to win over millennials with surprise celebrity appearances, including one from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The campaign will include a digital integration from the agency AKQA, and represents Paul Chibe's last Super Bowl as the head of U.S. marketing for Bud Light's parent company, A-B InBev.
Here's one of Bud Light's ads from last year's game, starring a voodoo Stevie Wonder:
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Unilever's Axe brand is starting off the year in a radically different direction from what it is used to. Instead of using a horde of girls in bikinis to get young men to buy the brand's grooming products, Axe is putting a surprisingly cinematic and serious spin on war movie tropes.
BBH London wanted to have the ad, for the new 'Peace' fragrance, be the brand's first serious commercial, and one that had an equilibrium between the sexes.
The agency even partnered with the nonprofit Peace One Day for the campaign. The final ad will be a 30-second abridged version of the one below. Watch scenes of warfare and oppression turn to those of love and celebration:
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Web publishing platform Squarespace will introduce itself on advertising's grandest stage with a 30-second ad from in-house creative chief and TBWA alum David Lee.
The nine-year-old company's teaser video uses a dystopian urban wasteland as a metaphor for the internet, with the implication being that Squarespace's self-publishing and e-commerce tools can help users find comfort amid an online world that can be overwhelming and scary.
Here's the teaser, called 'A Better Web Awaits':
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Nestle's Butterfinger brand is about to launch its first new product in five years, Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups. Instead of employing longtime mascot Bart Simpson, its ad will take a look at the swanky Mr. and Mrs. Buttercup, looking to spice up their marriage.
In a teaser video, produced by the agency Dailey, Peanut Butter and his wife Chocolate find that adding some crunch to their mix will bring life back to a tired pairing (a subtle jab at the new product's main rival, Reese's peanut butter cups). The minute-long teaser gets steamy when Chocolate picks up an issue of 'Exotic Snacking' magazine:
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Jaguar will promote the new F-Type coupe with a 60-second ad starring British actors Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong. The luxury car brand's first ever Super Bowl ad will run during the third quarter and promote Jaguar as a suave British villain challenging staid luxury brands like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.
The Super Bowl ad is called 'Rendezvous' and was directed by Tom Hooper ('The King's Speech', 'Les Misérables'). It's being promoted digitally with sponsored content on Sports Illustrated, Gawker, IFC, and Pandora, as well through traditional ads in print magazines. Jaguar is also running a 30-second preview of the commercial on cable beginning Jan. 20.
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In addition to sponsoring the halftime show (featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Pepsi will run two 30-second ads.
Creative details for the ads are still under wraps, but the soda brand has released two teaser videos on YouTube's Ad Blitz channel. Here's one of them, a humorous bit of historical fiction that presents Pepsi as the reason for football's first ever halftime break:
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Doritos is running its eighth annual 'Crash The Super Bowl' contest, and five finalists are competing for a shot at having their commercial run during the game.
The ad team with the most online votes gets airtime, $US1 million, and can visit the set of the upcoming movie 'Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron.' Doritos execs will pick a runner-up that gets the airtime without the other perks.
Voting lasts until Jan. 30 and you can vote here. Sydney, Australia resident Thomas Noakes has the early favourite with the gross 'Finger Cleaner' commercial:
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The Super Bowl's most notorious advertiser returns in 2014, but it has recently sworn off the overtly sexual advertising that first put it in the limelight (you might remember the scandalous 2013 ad that showed model Bar Rafaeli in an extended makeout scene).
GoDaddy will have two 30-second ads at this year's game, and at least one of them will star race car driver Danica Patrick. The driver was spotted by the Daily Mail wearing a muscle suit and running a race against male bodybuilders at a shoot for one of the commercials.
Here's the Daily Mail's footage from the shoot:
SodaStream has recruited Scarlett Johansson as its 'global brand ambassador' in hopes that she can revive the struggling brand. The new agency Humanaut is producing the 30-second ad, and CP+B co-founder Alex Bogusky is serving as creative consultant.
The commercial will not be as edgy as the Israeli soda kit company's CEO Daniel Birnbaum previously said it would be. Rather than attacking soda giants Coke and Pepsi like last year's ad, this year's commercial will focus on the benefits of making your own customised, healthier beverage. Here's a behind-the-scenes preview:
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Intuit has purchased a 30-second spot during the third quarter for the winner of its Small Business Big Game contest.
The competition is currently down to four finalists, from which a winner will be selected by the public to have an ad created for it by the agency RPA and broadcast during the game. You can visit Intuit's website to check out the four competing small businesses.
Followers of Business Insider's advertising coverage will likely recognise GoldieBlox, the girls' construction toy company currently ensnarled in a legal battle with the Beastie Boys after the company used one of the rap trio's songs in an ad without the permission of its surviving members.
Here's the ad in question (the Beastie Boys song 'Girls' has since been replaced):
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TurboTax is using the Super Bowl to tell Americans that doing their own taxes doesn't have to be one of the most stressful times of the year. It could even be fun if framed the right way (really!).
The 60-second ad from Wieden + Kennedy will be a continuation of its current 'It's Amazing What You're Capable Of' campaign, narrated by the actor John C. Reilly ('Step Brothers,' 'Gangs Of New York'). Instead of focusing on data and number crunching, the commercials make an emotional connection with the viewer through scenes of marriage, birth, and other happy milestones.
This ad kicked off the campaign, so you can expect something similar:
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Budweiser scored a viral hit at the 2013 game with an emotional ad centering on the friendship between one of its famous Clydesdale horses and his trainer. The brand will look to replicate that formula this year with two new, emotional ads featuring the Clydesdales.
The ads will be 30 and 60 seconds in length, with both coming from Anomaly, the agency behind last year's 'Brotherhood' success. In one ad, called 'Puppy Love,' Budweiser will spotlight a 10-week-old puppy that forms a friendship with the Clydesdales and ultimately earns a place on their team.
In the other, 'Hero's Welcome,' Budweiser will honour the U.S. armed forces with a celebration for troops returning from overseas.
The campaign will include digital promotion from the agency AKQA.
Here's last year's hit, 'Brotherhood':
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Audi will promote its new 2015 A3 sedan in a 60-second ad immediately following the halftime show. This year marks Audi's seventh consecutive year advertising at the Super Bowl, all of them with ad agency Venables Bell & Partners.
The car brand has recently been promoting the A3 with ads that compare purchasing a luxury car for the first time to losing one's virginity, so perhaps Audi will continue the theme on Super Bowl Sunday.
Here's one of those ads, called 'Luxury Car Abstinence':
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General Mills marketing VP Camille Gibson announced in December that the company would run a Super Bowl ad that presents 'a Cheerios point of view about families.'
Cheerios said the Super Bowl ad would be produced by the same Saatchi & Saatchi creative team that made this summer's 'Just Checking' ad, which sparked debate over the mixed-race family it depicted. The Super Bowl ad, which will debut online sometime in January, will be General Mills' first appearance at the game since 1996.
Here's the 'Just Checking' ad from the summer:
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The Greek yogurt brand will kick off a new campaign from ad agency Droga5 with its first ever Super Bowl ad. It's thought that Chobani will promote its new 100-calorie line to a nation that (it hopes) hasn't yet given up on New Year's Resolutions to get in shape.
Despite creating the market for Greek yogurt in the U.S., Chobani is looking to repair its image following an embarrassing mould recall and Whole Foods' announcement that it would no longer carry the brand because it contains genetically modified organisms.
Chobani has had success advertising at big sporting events in the past, like when it sponsored the U.S. Olympic team with a campaign starring softball pitcher Jennie Finch in 2012:
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Chevrolet will have two 60-second spots from either of its two ad agencies, Leo Burnett and Commonwealth. Chevrolet CMO Tim Mahoney told Ad Age that the Super Bowl will represent the one-year anniversary of the brand's 'Find New Roads' campaign.
Its 2012 ad showed a young man's humorously extreme reaction to what he'd thought was a graduation gift of a new Chevy convertible:
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Last year's Wonderful Super Bowl commercial featured Korean pop star Psy getting all 'Gangnam Style' with dancing pistachios. This year, Stephen Colbert will star in two ads for the company.
The commercial will kick off a year-long campaign with the Emmy-winning host of 'The Colbert Report.'
'Since I was a child, I've dreamed of working with America's premiere nut company. The fact that it turns out to be the good folks at Wonderful Pistachios is just the pistachio on top of the ice cream sundae,' Colbert said.
Here's the Psy ad from last year:
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The last 'Matrix' movie came out back in 2003, but Laurence Fishburne will be appearing as the futuristic Zen master Morpheus once again in an ad for Kia's first luxury sedan, the K900.
David&Goliath is producing the commercial, which will be a spoof of the classic 'red pill/blue pill' scene from the first 'Matrix' film. A couple will come across Morpheus at a valet stand, where he will offer them a red key or a blue key. The three will then go on 'an unforgettable ride.'
Kia hopes that Morpheus can introduce consumers to a whole new world, one in which the affordable car brand also produces a luxury vehicle.
Here's a video showcasing the K900 that will be promoted:
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H&M's commercial will star retired soccer icon David Beckham and allow viewers to purchase products from his Bodywear clothing line directly from their TVs.
The 30-second spot will run during the second quarter and promote nine new styles from Bodywear, which Beckham has helped design since 2012. H&M says its internally produced ad, enabled by technology from the firm Delivery Agent, is the first to allow people to buy products seen in a commercial via their TVs.
H&M missed 2013's game, but a shirtless Beckham starred in its 2012 Super Bowl ad:
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Heinz will make just its second Super Bowl appearance ever (1998) with a 30-second ad focused on the happy memories families have shared while using Heinz products over the years. The spot will be produced by Heinz's ad agency, Chicago-headquartered Cramer-Krasselt.
Heinz is also encouraging customers to submit photos of their families using their favourite Heinz products, with participants having an opportunity to win more than $US400,000 in prizes.
Here's Heinz's first and only Super Bowl ad, a deliciously '90s time capsule from 1998:
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Coca-Cola will run an ad that celebrates its role in American society, according to comments made to Marketing Week by North American SVP of integrated marketing Jonathan Mildenhall.
Other than that, we don't yet know much about Coca-Cola's Super Bowl XLVIII plans. At last year's game, the soda giant ran an interactive ad from Wieden+Kennedy that followed a desert chase between three competing groups -- cowboys, bikers, and showgirls -- all trying to snag a refrigerator of Coke. Viewers were able to go online to vote for which group they wanted to reach the prize first, with Coca-Cola then showing the result later on.
Alas, the promotion stumbled as Coke's website went down just as users were trying to cast their votes. Here's the ad:
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Hyundai has partnered again with in-house agency Innocean for two 30-second commercials.
In the first one, the brand is making an appeal to parents by advocating the safety features of the 2015 Genesis luxury sedan.
Vignettes of a father saving his son from accidents on the playground will be connected to an instance where the Genesis' radar-based emergency brake saves the now 16-year-old son from colliding with a truck. 'Remember when only Dad had eyes in the back of his head?' begins the punchline.
The second one is for the Elantra and targets a younger crowd. Two hot, young Hollywood celebrities will be flirting in that one, but Hyundai's keeping their identities a surprise.
Here's last year's spot, promoting the Hyundai Santa Fe:
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M&M's will have one 30-second ad from the agency BBDO at this year's Super Bowl, but details outside of that are presently hazy.
The brand channeled Meatloaf at last year's game with a musical ad starring Glee's Naya Rivera and the red M&M:
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Toyota will be advertising the new Toyota Highlander in a 60-second spot from Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles.
Not much is known about the ad except for the teaser that Kaley Cuoco of 'The Big Bang Theory' might return as the ad's star, according to a Toyota marketing exec. In last year's popular commercial, Cuoco was the 'RAV4 Genie.'
Here's the 'RAV 4 Genie' ad:
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Dannon's Oikos brand of Greek yogurt will make its second Super Bowl appearance after skipping last year's game.
The brand will have a 30-second ad, but it is unknown if actor John Stamos, star of the 2012 Super Bowl ad, will appear this time around.
Here's the 2012 spot:
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It's expected that there will be fewer movie trailers than usual this year, but Paramount Pictures will have an ad for the forthcoming Michael Bay blockbuster 'Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.' The ad will feature footage from the movie.
Paramount used last year's game to promote 'Star Trek Into Darkness':
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Volkswagen will poke fun at the intensity of its German engineers in its fifth straight year of Super Bowl advertising.
The brand says its 60-second spot will continue its tradition of 'sharing simple, human stories,' a tradition perhaps best exemplified by Volkswagen's famous 'The Force' ad from 2011 game.
Here's 'The Force,' created by Volkswagen's current agency, Deutsch LA:
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