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Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web


Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz.

With an estimated 113 million domestic viewers, the Super Bowl is the biggest day in American advertising.

Increasingly, it’s also one of the busiest days online, with social media exploding over ads that flopped or scored big.

“I don’t think Budweiser can tell you that the puppy ad sells more beers the day after the Super Bowl, but what they will tell you is it makes a deep emotional connection,” said Peter Land, a sports marketing consultant.

A 30-second ad in this year’s Super Bowl costs a whopping $4.5 million, making 2015 the most expensive year for advertising in Super Bowl history. That level of investment demands social media returns, said James Cooper of Adweek in a Skype interview.

“If you can tease the release of your spot on YouTube, you can get a lot of social media chatter even before the game kicks off. Some of these pre-released ads and teasers on YouTube get millions of hits and get a lot of buzz, and that is a way for them to justify the cost,” said Cooper.

Bud Light’s pre-released Real Life PacMan spot already has millions of views. Lexus is touting its new hybrid, and Victoria’s Secret is showcasing its world famous angels -- both companies released their ads in advance of the big game. Both are hoping for social media traction.

In addition to Super Bowl regulars like Doritos, Sunday’s ads will feature some online upstarts. Wix, a free online website builder, is betting big, as is Internet news site and social media darling, BuzzFeed.

“Native and social is part of BuzzFeed’s DNA. They’re very, very good at it. That’s where they were born but they also want to expand themselves into a larger media context, and obviously the best way to do that is be part of the Super Bowl,” said Cooper.

The Super Bowl is a global sporting event broadcast to more than 225 countries and streaming on devices worldwide. That means the splashy ads, and the attention they garner online, will ripple far beyond U.S. shores.

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