If you've been paying attention to the pre-Super Bowl commercial hype machine, you may have noticed an increase in teaserlike commercials for commercials. Or, put another way, bits of (sometimes mysterious) online content designed to whet the appetites of big game watchers.
Commercials for commercials may seem a bit meta, but there is a method to the madness.
Simply put, companies want more bang for their buck. "You spend $4 million for a Super Bowl spot — and that's just the price you're paying to the network, not production, talent, etc. — you want to get as much out of your investment as possible," Ken Wheaton, the managing editor of Advertising Age, said in an email to Yahoo TV.
But are they appetizers or spoilers? Sure, teasers can inspire big buzz, but do they lessen the actual commercial's impact?
Take Audi's odd "Doberhuahua" commercial, set to air during the Super Bowl. The finished ad features singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan strumming a guitar in what may be construed as a pretty bizarre cameo.
However, if you saw the teaser to the commercial, you might better get the joke behind what she's doing there. In the teaser, she pokes fun at herself by singing a song about the misunderstood animal.
Whether or not the teaser mutes the ad's impact depends on the ad, Wheaton said. "If the ad is lame, it may very well hurt you. Because people have that much more time to think about how weak it was."
So, is there anything to be said for keeping it top secret until the actual game? A recent study cited by the Christian Science Monitor suggests that teasing and prereleasing spots is good for business.
Via Christian Science Monitor
"A report from Unruly, a marketing technology company, released on Thursday found that 60 percent of the most-shared Super Bowl commercials of all time were previewed before their official broadcast; it also said that seven of the 20 ads most shared after the 2013 Super Bowl had been promoted in teasers before the big game."
Fair enough, but if you look at comments on social networks, you're likely to find a few folks who remember the days when a viewer was surprised by ads during the game.
As Yahoo commenter David Whitford put it regarding the Budweiser "Puppy Love" spot: "The commercial was good, but do you remember the days when you wouldn't see Super Bowl ads until the Superbowl?" Another commenter echoed that sentiment regarding Kia's "Matrix" spot.
And let's not forget that some of the most popular spots in recent Super Bowls were kept under wraps prior to the big game. Last year's Ram truck commercial featuring the voice of the late, great Paul Harvey talking about the many virtues of the farmer wasn't teased and wasn't previewed, but it still went on to be one of the year's most well-received ads.
James Cooper, executive editor of AdWeek, told Yahoo TV that companies switched to teasers rather than leaking the full spots because they found that viewers were experiencing some fatigue by the time the spot aired during the game. "If you look at the Budweiser Arnold Schwarzenegger teaser, that's already been seen by a lot of people and been talked about. So there's that built-in anticipation."
And yet, this year, you can also see many full spots including Budweiser’s adorable puppy reunion, GoDaddy’s muscular Danica Patrick ad, Cheerios's touching breakfast conversation, and more.
The grumpy grandpa in us kind of wishes Madison Avenue wouldn't spoil the surprises. But what are your thoughts on Super Bowl ad teasers? All in good fun or enough is enough? Leave a comment below.
Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).