NEW YORK — Super Bowl advertisers are learning the art of the tease.
Supermodel Kate Upton appears in an online Mercedes-Benz video in a low-cut top. An unknown man wakes up with his face covered in smeared lipstick and his hands bound in furry handcuffs in a Gildan Activewear clip. And “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan seemingly curses in a spot for Kraft's Mio flavored drops.
“Hey, can you say (bleep) on TV?” he asks in the spot titled “Bleep.”
Super Bowl advertisers no longer are keeping spots a secret until the Big Game. They're releasing online snippets of their ads or longer video trailers that allude to the action in the Game Day spot. It's an effort to squeeze more publicity out of advertising's biggest stage by creating pre-game buzz.
Advertisers are shelling out $4 million to get their 30-second spots in front of the 111 million viewers expected to tune into the game. But they're looking for ways to reach even more people: About half of the more than 30 Super Bowl advertisers are expected to have teaser ads this year, up from 10 last year, according to Hulu, which aggregates Super Bowl ads on its AdZone website.
There's an art to teasers. Each spot, which can run from a few seconds to over a minute long, is intended to drive up hype by giving viewers clues about Game Day ads.
But the key is to not give too much away. So marketers must walk a fine line between revealing too much — or too little — about their Super Bowl ads.
Some companies have been successful using Super Bowl teasers in the past. Last year, Volkswagen's teaser that showed dogs barking “The Imperial March” from the Star Wars movie was a hit.
In fact, it was almost as popular as the Game Day ad, which had a Star Wars-themed twist ending. Both the teaser and the ad each received about 16 million views on YouTube.com.
But other spots fall flat, or worse, are all but been forgotten once the mystery is revealed during the Big Game.
For instance, Bridgestone put out several teasers for its Super Bowl ad last year. But the Game Day ad itself did not show up in the USA Today AdMeter, which ranks the popularity of ads.