Welcome to the Super Bowl of advertising -- and yes, it's already begun, days in advance of Sunday's telecast of Super Bowl XLVI.
A handful of Super Bowl commercials have already been released online, with more to come in next few days. Two major car advertisers -- Volkswagen and Honda -- have even been teasing their in-game campaigns for weeks.
"There is less and less of an argument for unveiling your spot in the Super Bowl for the first time, and I'd be surprised if everybody doesn't pre-release" next year, says Mike McGraw, managing partner of Big Fuel, a Manhattan-based social media ad agency that handles Chevrolet.
"The reason social media is becoming so important is the price tag," or roughly $3.5 million per 30-second ad, says Derek Rucker, associate professor of marketing at Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, which coordinates a review of Super Bowl ad effectiveness every year. The huge expense has forced advertisers to extend a commercial's reach: "It's now about re-watching, discussing and sharing," he says, adding that "the web has been a huge boon to that."
Meanwhile, here are five ads that are already getting attention -- or will:
Audi: The Audi 2013 S7 comes equipped with LED headlights so powerful that they vaporize a party of teen vampires. The 60-second spot, set to air after kickoff, has already received more than 2 million hits online. (Audi has other in-game commercials.)
Coca-Cola: Coke has created two versions of the same ad -- polar bears watching the game. One ad has polar bears wearing Giants scarves, in another they are wearing Patriot ones. The ad that airs will depend on which team is leading at the half (this is believed to be a Super Bowl first). Coke has also created a Facebook channel starring the bears (cokepolarbowl.com).
Honda: Starring Matthew Broderick in a Todd Phillips ("The Hangover") directed do-over of 1986's "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," this CR-V commercial has already received vast online love. "The film embodies the theme of getting out and doing stuff," Joe Baratelli, creative director of Santa Monica-based agency RPA told Adweek. "Our client saw the potential of tapping into the fandom." The ad has several movie parallels and sight gags; audio ones too -- Yello's song "Oh Yeah" from the movie is reprised.
Acura: Starring Jerry Seinfeld who wants to be the first person on the planet to buy the new Acura NSX, this one spins out several sight gags before Jay Leno turns up to provide the punchline. This nearly 2-minute-long ad was released online Monday, and been viewed by 1.2 million by Tuesday.
Volkswagen: Last year's Darth Vader ad was a game winner. VW is teasing another "Star Wars"-themed campaign via the Web with barking dogs, called (naturally) "The Bark Side." This is technically a "tease" for another ad that will air during the game.
Watch some of the Super Bowl commercials at newsday.com/tvzone