This week, in between bursts of working very hard at your desk, you may have spent some time catching a few of this year's leaked Super Bowl ads. And while watching a middle-aged Ferris Bueller and a pint-sized Darth Vader, you may also have wondered why a company that's paying roughly $114,000 per second to air a commercial during the Super Bowl put it online before the big day. The answer is, of course, to generate excitement and early buzz — which naturally makes us think of all that good Black Friday hype.
Every November, dealnews turns its attention to gathering and reporting on the plethora of early Black Friday ad leaks that trickle in. And as we've noted before, these days, the "leaks" are rarely accidental. The practice of spreading a hotly-anticipated bit of media early, as a way to excite and entice, is now old hat on the Internet, and Super Bowl advertisers are getting in on the game. Much like the now absurdly staggered process of early promoting a movie, these Super Bowl commercial creators know that an early sneak peek for something highly anticipated can generate invaluable buzz.
But it's also about control. While the Internet can bring on an exponential spike in awareness and spread an artifact like wildfire, it can also lay waste to carefully-scheduled plans to debut content. It is likely that, once upon a time, Black Friday ads were actually leaked by tipsters, and made their way onto the Internet without the retailer's consent. But after rounds of cease and desist letters, retailers wised up and saw an opportunity: strategically self-leaking an anticipated ad allows a company to control (and manipulate) the dispersal of a message, while stoking the flames of interest from consumers.
Some leaked commercials are clearly teasers, while others are full-length advertisements; we're curious to see how the latter ones differ during the Super Bowl. As far as Black Friday ads go, every year we see retailers save the most scorching deals for last, so we doubt that Volkswagen, Honda, et al. are really revealing everything before they reportedly pay $3.5 million dollars for a 30-second spot. Guess we'll all have to watch the Super Bowl now to find out!
In the meantime, here are the commercials that have been leaked thus far. Got any favorites?