Which Super Bowl ads are already winning?

With marketers releasing spots ahead of Sunday's game, some commercials are getting a head start in creating buzz.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 1, 2013 3:40PM

The Super Bowl doesn't air until Sunday night, but some game-day advertisers are already pulling ahead of competitors with advance buzz for their spots. 

Among those getting rave reviews -- if not millions of views on YouTube -- are Anheuser Busch's (BUD) Budweiser spot, which features the brand's Clydesdale horses, and Audi's commercial about a teenager going solo to his prom. 

The stakes are enormously high for Super Bowl marketers: A 30-second spot reached a record $3.8 million this year, and that doesn't include the additional millions that are often spent on filming, producing and creating special effects.

"It makes enormous sense to release a spot before the Super Bowl because there is a huge opportunity to engage people before the game is played," Kellogg School of Management professor Tim Calkins tells MSN Money. His school rates the winners and losers among Super Bowl advertisers each year. "Advertisers make a huge investment and one way to make the most of it is to release the ads early."Men watching television, holding beers -- Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy, Cultura, Getty Images

Other buzzed-about spots include Volkswagen's (VLKAY) ad, which despite some critics complaining of racism, has drawn 4.7 million views on YouTube, and Toyota's RAV4 spot, which stars "The Big Bang Theory" actress Kaley Cuoco. The RAV4 spot has drawn more than 8 million views as of Friday. 

Automakers are under special pressure to release their commercials before the game because so many have bought Super Bowl airtime, notes Tony Pace, chief marketing officer for Subway, which will also advertise in the Super Bowl. More than a half dozen automakers plan to air spots during the game.

Automakers "are all trying to make sure they are going to stand out because it's very cluttered," Pace tells MSN Money. 

As for Subway, the company decided to jump back into Super Bowl advertising after an eight-year absence. Its spot features Subway's longtime spokesman Jared, who is celebrating 15 years of keeping off the weight he lost by eating its food, as well as popular sports figures such as Robert Griffin III, speed-skater Apolo Ohno and "The Office" actor Brian Baumgartner. 

While initially planning to keep the Subway spot under wraps until Sunday, the company on Friday decided to release the commercial ahead of the game. (To see the spot, click here.)

Competing restaurant chain Taco Bell is already getting a lot of buzz for its Super Bowl spot, which is called "Viva Young" and features a bunch of 80-somethings escaping from their retirement home for a wild night that's capped off by tacos.

Other brands to watch out for on Sunday are Ford's (F) Lincoln, which is making a bid to revive the brand, and BlackBerry (RIMM), which is also seeking a revival for its smartphone franchise, Kellogg's Calkins notes. 

"Behind every spot is a team that's working desperately hard," Calkins said. "If it goes well, they'll be heralded as heroes. If not, they could get fired."

--Aimee Picchi owns shares in YUM, but has not traded the stock in at least 12 months.

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Feb 1, 2013 10:41PM

The Toyota ad may have garnered more views on Youtube,  but the VW ad may have garnered far more viewing and lengthy discussions  by many reporters/media folks and many other people including many Jamaicans in the USA and abroad, as the ad has been shown on national and cable news programs around the whether the ad is racist or not...  because of a supposedly white office worker basically telling his collegues ... don't worry be happy  in a supposed Jamaican accent. So far it seems that Jamaicans  find the ad amusing and positive etc rather than racist. LOL 


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