Super Bowl 2014: Never mind the football, it’s the adverts that matter - and this year the pitches are stellar

 

A 17-second teaser trailer for the latest project by Arnold Schwarzenegger was released on YouTube last week. Unlike the ex-Governator’s most recent movies, it’s intended as comedy. Schwarzenegger appears wearing a headband and Bjorn Borg wig, poised with a paddle at one end of a ping-pong table. But in this case, the feature being previewed is not, in fact, a movie. It’s a television commercial for Bud Light beer, due to be broadcast for the first time during next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

We now live in a world where it's not enough for a company simply to air a blockbuster ad during the year's biggest television event. That company now has to prepare consumers for their blockbuster ad with a teaser trailer. And trailers aren't the only thing advertisers are borrowing from Hollywood. This year's Super Bowl ad breaks will feature appearances from a full squad of stars, including Scarlett Johansson, James Franco, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Hiddleston and Stephen Colbert.

Tickets for the cheapest seats at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the climactic game between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are now changing hands for $2,700 (£1,638). But that's nothing compared with the price of commercial airtime in the gaps between the actual football. This year, advertisers have paid a record-breaking $4m for every 30-second slot. "With the largest television audience of the year, it's an unprecedented opportunity and we make the most of it," said Paul Chibe, US marketing chief for Anheuser-Busch, which makes Bud Light, as he unveiled the company's Super Bowl strategy.

The ads are the big earners, but not the only entertainment on the night

Schwarzenegger was reportedly paid $3m to appear in the commercial, which is part of a campaign of multiple ads, which Bud Light promises will feature "412 actors, 58 hidden cameras, five rock stars, four celebrities" and "one unsuspecting guy". The campaign is expected to be an elaborate example of so-called "prank-vertising", a current advertising trend whereby "real" people are subjected to practical jokes by advertisers using hidden cameras. Among the other actors involved are Don Cheadle and Mila Kunis.

Celebrities have been appearing in Super Bowl commercials since at least 1973, when Farrah Fawcett appeared in an ad for Noxzema shaving cream. But in recent years they have become ubiquitous, at the expense of other, potentially more creative content. Ad Week writer Tim Nudd said, "We live in a pretty celebrity-obsessed culture, and Super Bowl is a big spectacle full of pomp and circumstance, so the two things fit together pretty well.

"Thus Johansson is appearing in a Super Bowl spot for Soda Stream, as the fizzy drink-maker's first "global brand ambassador". Franco is fronting an ad for Ford. Colbert is taking over from Korean rapper Psy as the public face of Wonderful Pistachios. And Hiddleston, Mark Strong and Sir Ben Kingsley are playing quintessentially British villains in a series of commercials for Jaguar. Moreover, David Beckham will break new ground by starring in the first ad to allow viewers to buy the product in question - H&M underpants - directly from their televisions using their remote controls.

The most celebrated Super Bowl commercial of recent times was Volkswagen's 2011 spot, "The Force", featuring a boy in a Darth Vader helmet. The most shared ad of all time, it now has about at least 60 million YouTube views - more than half the Super Bowl's live audience. This year, automobile and sci-fi fans must take pleasure instead from Laurence Fishburne's return as mentor-figure Morpheus from The Matrix, in a commercial for Kia's K900 sedan.

Advertising industry insiders are most excited by the prospect of a new ad for Chrysler, which wowed audiences in 2011 and 2012 with powerful, recession-themed commercials starring Eminem and Clint Eastwood respectively. "Everybody's waiting to see what Chrysler will do," said Mr Nudd. "Chrysler always keep their Super Bowl plans secret, and they've had some of the best ads in the game in recent years. They don't seem to buy into the teaser trailer trend at all.

"And in fact, the teasers can irritate viewers, a lot of whom don't want the ads to be spoilt ahead of time."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee