Regardless of what happens on the field, history will be made at this year's Super Bowl of advertising -- starting with a record price tag of roughly $4.5 million for a 30-second spot, a significant spike from the $4 million advertisers forked over last year. With soaring prices, you can bet advertisers will be looking to get the most of every second of airtime by delivering multi-channel experiences, via supporting social and digital campaigns, and creating pre and post-game buzz to extend the life of their investment.
You'll see some surprising, first-time advertisers this year -- such as cruise company Carnival, Weight Watchers, Esurance and Skittles -- as well as a few shocking departures including Volkswagen, General Motors and Dannon.
Celebrity endorsements will be plentiful, as always, including a self-deprecating Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel for BMW, former Bond-man Pierce Brosnan for Kia, and an inspirational Toyota spot called "How Great I Am" featuring Paralympic athlete Amy Purdy and Muhammad Ali.
Anheuser-Busch will run a spin-off of last year's widely popular (winner of the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter) "Puppy Love" spot featuring a budding puppy-Clydesdale friendship. If you were curious just how serious advertisers see their social media opportunity, Anheuser-Busch intends to set up separate social media command posts across four time zones where real-time content will be created during the game.
Speaking of heartstrings, Dove Men+Care's spin off of last year's "Real Dad Moments" will challenge male stereotypes about what makes a man strong and may leave you a bit misty eyed in the process.
Coca-Cola will tackle the subject of online hate in its big game ad by sending a message of optimism and inclusion.
Doritos will continue its eight-year trend of consumer-developed spots, with the ad garnering the most fan votes earning its developer a $1 million prize and a creative role at Universal Pictures.
In the fourth quarter, look for the much-anticipated Mercedes-Benz spot that retells the story of The Tortoise and the Hare and is directed by Robert Stromberg, making his Super Bowl debut but known for award-winning films like Avatar and Maleficent. Get ready to see a blend of live action with animation.
While it is certainly too soon to determine the ultimate winners of this year's grandest of all advertising competitions, keep an eye out for the brands that master great storytelling, form authentic emotional connections with viewers, incorporate mobile-friendly digital video content, and effectively leverage integrated social media campaigns.
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