Once again, the anticipation around ads in the Super Bowl rivals that of the game itself—and brands are looking to capitalize on that excitement by rolling out their spots, or at least teasers, early.
Despite the record $5 million price tag, brands are lining up to be part of the event for the first time—among them, Amazon, LG Electronics and Apartments.com. Advertisers like Snickers and Kia that had big hits last year are betting that lightning will strike a second time. And as always, celebrities will have a starring role.
Aside from Schumer and Rogen, this year's lineup includes Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino for Amazon, Key & Peele for Squarespace (replacing a somnolent Jeff Bridges last time around), Christopher Walken for Kia (following Pierce Brosnan) and Liam Neeson for LG.
Here's a look at 10 ads already generating plenty of chatter days before kick-off. To check out all the spots and teasers as they are rolled out, follow our Super Bowl Ad Tracker at Adweek.com.
Last year, Bud Light relied on '80s nostalgia in a Super Bowl ad featuring a life-size game of Pac-Man. This time around, the brand has comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen suiting up—Spanx and all—for a politically themed spot. Marking Wieden + Kennedy's first work for the brand, the ad is part of a campaign that will extend throughout this political season. The "Bud Light Party" campaign accompanies the brand's newly designed packaging and a fresh tagline, "Raise one to right now." Cheers!
A first-time Super Bowl advertiser, LG is jumping in full-force with a futuristic spot highlighting its OLED TV technology. Liam Neeson, who stole the show last year with his Clash of Clans performance, is featured, playing a man from the future in a dynamic, 60-second production. The buzz, though, focuses on filmmaker Ridley Scott's return to the game for the first time since his iconic "1984" ad for Apple. This year, Scott takes on executive producer duties while his son, Jake Scott, directs.
Marilyn Monroe belts out a husky version of "Happy Birthday" in this year's Snickers spot, from BBDO New York, the latest in the "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign. It's slated for the first quarter. A teaser features the star's famous serenade of President John F. Kennedy—but instead, she fetes the Super Bowl as it turns 50. Last year, the brand delighted viewers with an hysterical Brady Bunch-themed ad starring Danny Trejo as a hungry Marcia Brady. Will Marilyn be as popular as Marcia?
Jaguar and General Motors were among the automakers that opted out of last year's Super Bowl—but Kia stayed in the game. This marks the seventh straight year the brand has bought in. On the heels of its wildly popular spot last year starring Pierce Brosnan, Kia aims to keep the buzz going with Christopher Walken and a trusty, colorful sock puppet. Created by David&Goliath, the 60-second ad in the third quarter will promote the 2016 Optima mid-size sedan.
Last year, Jeff Bridges lulled viewers to sleep in a rather curious ad for Squarespace. In this year's game, comedy is key for the advertiser, joining many other brands—among them, Bud Light, Shock Top and Toyota—going for laughs. Squarespace and its agency Anomaly turned to comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele—better known as Key & Peele—for this spot. While the brand is keeping details under wraps, viewers can expect plenty of funny business here.
Coming this spring, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup boasts an audio system that uses so-called "exciters" to turn the entire truck bed into a giant speaker. Honda will promote the feature in a 60-second ad from RPA featuring a farmer who evidently has been using it a lot around his sheep, which belt out Queen's "Somebody to Love." (The song got a lift after being featured on NBC's The Voice.) Says Honda's assistant vp of marketing Tom Peyton: "It was the only song the sheep knew."
To introduce itself to the Super Bowl audience, first-time game advertiser Apartments.com enlisted Jeff Goldblum and Lil Wayne. From RPA, the 60-second ad, titled "MovinOnUp," will air during the second commercial break. CMO Becky Carr said the brand decided to buy into the game based on data showing that more Americans rent than own. No word yet on the storyline here, but a teaser—featuring Lil Wayne buzzing George Washington into his apartment—sure grabbed our attention.
Avocados From Mexico
Last year, in its first Super Bowl spot, Avocados From Mexico journeyed back in time for the "First Draft Ever." This year, the brand sets out on an adventure to space, making delicious avocados available to the entire universe. Happy Days actor Scott Baio stars in the 30-second ad, created by GSD&M, which also did last year's spot. A teaser reveals Baio aboard a spaceship, trying his best to solve a Rubik's Cube, presumably on his way to the final frontier with a payload of avocados.
In Amazon's first Super Bowl ad, Dan Marino and Alec Baldwin plan an epic Super Bowl party where Marino wants cheerleaders but Baldwin's not so sure. So the former gridiron star turns to "Alexa," the sound of the voice-command device Amazon Echo, for help. Created by Leo Burnett Toronto, the ad spotlights Alexa's capabilities—among them, instructions for building a "snack stadium." While the advertiser hasn't revealed much else pregame, fans can follow the campaign using #BaldwinBowl.
For its second Super Bowl ad, Wix shifts from football stars Brett Favre and Terrell Owens to a cuter, cuddlier cast. A partnership with DreamWorks Animation, the spot will feature characters from the forthcoming Kung Fu Panda 3. Teasers have character Po and friends looking for ways to promote Mr. Ping's Noodles that don't involve sponsoring the halftime show or skywriting. Building a website with Wix.com turns out to be the answer to their dilemma.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 1 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.