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."

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day supply across the region

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits