Marketers running ads for ads ahead of Super Bowl

The big game isn't until Feb. 7, but chances are you're already familiar with some of this year's Super Bowl commercials. That's because marketers are increasingly showing previews and teasers of their Super Bowl ads — in essence, advertisements for advertisements.

Previews and teasers for expensive Super Bowl ads becoming more common, says CBC Ad Guy

A still from a Newcastle ad released in February of 2015, promoting an ad to run during the February 2016 Super Bowl game. (Newcastle/YouTube)

The big game isn't until Feb. 7, but chances are you're already familiar with some of this year's Super Bowl commercials.

That's because marketers are increasingly showing previews and teasers of their Super Bowl ads — in essence, advertisements for advertisements.

In December of 2015, Butterfinger released a video of a skydiver eating one of its chocolate bars in mid-air.

Upon landing, he goes on to announce that the chocolate bar will be featured in a Super Bowl commercial directed by Armando Bo, who co-wrote the movie Birdman.

So basically, we have a company running a commercial to announce that it's going to run a commercial.

But it gets sillier. TurboTax produced several teaser ads to generate interest in upcoming Super Bowl ads for its income tax software.

Each commercial features a different genius, leading up to — one assumes — a mega-brainiac in the actual Super Bowl ad.

As usual, three finalists in the annual Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contest — which features fan-made ads vying for a Super Bowl spot — were posted online in November.

So we've already seen the actual Doritos ad that will run during the game — we're just not sure which of the three it is.

It may be the one which shows an expectant mother having an ultrasound while her husband munches on Doritos.

In another ad, we see a man leaving the water on while brushing his teeth. As he ignores the water, other people start using it for drinking, washing food and cooking. Type at the end says, "When you brush your teeth with the tap running, you waste over 10 litres of water."

The spot ends with the Colgate logo.

This 60-second commercial ran in the U.S. in 2014. According to Colgate, we'll see a 30-second version in this year's Super Bowl. Impressive — not only is the commercial green, it's recycled.

Capping off all this preview activity is host network CBS, which is running two Super Bowl commercial specials leading up to the game. One of them will run Saturday night and give us sneak peeks at some of this year's actual ads.

But the most extreme tease of all has to be an ad for Newcastle beer, which premiered in Feburary of 2015 — to build hype for Newcastle's ad airing during the 2016 Super Bowl game.

The ad lists several innovations imagined for 2016, back in the distant past of the year previous.

So why would Super Bowl marketers spend a bunch of extra money making elaborate teasers and previews?

Well, 30 seconds of air time in the game now costs about $5 million dollars U.S. — not including creative and production costs.

So by exposing their concepts early and smearing them all over social media, marketers are hoping to exponentially increase viewership to help pay for some of their massive Super Bowl investment.

Bruce Chambers is a syndicated advertising columnist for CBC Radio. 

About the Author

Bruce Chambers

Ad Guy

Bruce began his career writing radio commercials for stations in Red Deer, Calgary and Toronto. Then in-house at a national department store, and then ad agencies with campaigns for major national and regional clients. For the past couple of decades, he's been a freelance creative director and copywriter for agencies in Calgary and Victoria. He began his weekly Ad Guy columns on CBC Radio in 2003.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.