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More advertisers post spots on the Web in advance of Sunday’s big game

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ill the Super Bowl ads, the culmination of months of planning, research and spending, be kind of an anticlimax?

By the time the game airs Sunday on NBC, most everybody who really wants to will have seen the event’s most anticipated advertisement, Volkswagen’s follow-up to the peewee Darth Vader-starring,”Star Wars”-themed commercial that topped most ratings of the ads that aired during last year’s big game.

In the belief that the game is now just a point on the marketing continuum, VW released the ad Wednesday morning, letting the world know just how dogs and “Star Wars” figure in its push this year for the new Volkswagen Beetle. Hint: Like more than 100 million Americans, folks at the “Star Wars” cantina apparently watch football, and the ads.

For a marketer, “the Super Bowl is really not a game on a Sunday afternoon anymore,” said Brian Thomas, general manager of brand marketing at Volkswagen of America. “The Super Bowl is almost a three-week PR and social media campaign, and you have to think of it that way.”

More and more advertisers do. Setting aside network promos and movie ads, roughly half of the spots slated to run Sunday evening were already available on the Web on Wednesday to be shared, excerpted, covered, discussed and even reviewed.

This is the highest proportion yet of early unveilings, experts said.

Among the ads whose exact content is being held back until the game, many will have, at minimum, been “teased,” or previewed, often with productions nearly as elaborate as the ads themselves. Volkswagen, for example, struck advance gold with a 64-second Web spot with dogs barking “Star Wars” music, and Bridgestone produced an ad anticipating its actual ad.

“Not only are they recognizing the power of social media, but these ads cost so much that they’re trying to get the most bang for their buck,” said David Shoffner, a strategist for the Pavone advertising agency in Harrisburg, Pa.

Such widespread unveiling calls into question the traditional Super Bowl ecosystem, in which people gather at parties to watch the whole spectacle, from game to ads to, this year, Madonna at halftime.

Volkswagen’s Thomas said, “Maybe as recently as four, five years ago there was a lot of merit to holding your cards tightly to the vest. The reality is now there’s so much earned media opportunity. We had 13 million views of mini Vader before kickoff last year.”
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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