Gatorade gives audience an early look at Super Bowl ads

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

Pre-game advertising in the NFL’s Super Bowl used to mean buying a cheaper ad slot in the hours leading up to the game. This year it means promoting the pricey ads in the months leading up to the Feb. 3 ad fest on Fox.Starting Thursday, Gatorade gives a sneak peek at their Super Bowl ads featuring sports stars Derek Jeter and Dwayne Wade.

As demand and prices continue to rise for the huge TV event, marketers are trying to get more bang for their 2.7 million bucks, the record ad rate for 30 seconds in this year’s game. As opportunities for big audience shows continue to diminish, advertisers are willing to pay more.

Ads used to be top secret until game day, but marketers are finding that more visibility and promotion in advance of the game can help cover the cost of the ads by generating more brand awareness or juicing sales.

Advertisers must do a delicate dance to get their brand out there without spoiling the fun for Super Bowl ad watchers. More than 90 million people are expected to watch the game and marketers want to make sure they tune in for their ads.

“The hype leading up to game day for the ad is becoming almost as important as the ad itself,” says Bill Ward, a professor of marketing at Alfred University in New York. “Super Bowl ads are becoming more like the launch of a film, where the story of the “making of the ad” and the previews leading up to opening day are a critical part of the overall campaign. If done well, the hype leading up to the ad can create interest and excitement.”

Gatorade is using the stage to pump up interest in its newest brand, G2, a lower-calorie version of Gatorade. G2 is designed for athletes when they are not competing, and Gatorade is trying to make it a big hit throughout the year.

“The opportunity is so much greater than advertising on the Super Bowl itself,” says Matt Knott, Gatorade’s vice president, marketing. “There is so much anticipation and buzz leading up to Super Bowl we want to ride that wave of excitement to help launch this new brand.”

The 15-second ad snippets that start Thursday on ABC’s new game show The Duel, show the feet and lower legs of Jeter and Wade walking down the street. In the Jeter ad, the street morphs into the grass of a baseball field and in the Wade ad, it turns into the hard wood of a basketball court. The message: “This time, Gatorade changes the game off the field…[G2 logo]…coming soon.”

The ads will appear in full length in the Super Bowl to help launch the brand and the rest of the ad campaign that also stars Peyton Manning and Maria Sharapova.

“Advertising G2 in the Super Bowl makes great sense for us,” says Knott. “It’s the biggest new product launch and Super Bowl is the biggest sports stage in the world.”

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