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Super bang for Super Bowl buck

How do you make sure that millions of tipsy Americans will pay attention to your multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad? Show it before the Super Bowl. And after the Super Bowl. And, of course, during the Super Bowl. Advertisers are jostling for attention for their spots like never before, posting them online in advance of Sunday's kickoff, unveiling them at news conferences, screening them at cocktail parties and releasing behind-the-scenes videos about the ads' production.

"For that amount of money, they want to get more bang out of it," said Neil Burns, professor of advertising at the University of Texas in Austin.

Without question, the early unwrapping of a commercial slated to run during the most-watched TV show of the year, a show known for its often innovative advertising, will grab free publicity and might get people talking.

"We wouldn't do a Super Bowl ad at that cost if we weren't looking for some great buzz from it," said Jake Jacobson, a spokesman for Garmin International, which makes GPS products.

It held a news conference at Gotham Hall in New York on Wednesday to introduce its ad (a vintage car tears through the streets of Paris, guided by a Garmin device, and when the car stops, Napoleon gets out) and posted teasers for the ad on its blog.

Jacobson acknowledged a downside, at least for Super Bowl ad fans.

"It's lost a little bit of the suspense," he said.

But it's good for business. Research company Cision said in a recent report that "news about the advertising ... can extend the marketing reach tenfold." Cision said broadcast TV stations aired 6,663 news stories about Super Bowl ads in 2006 — up from 463 in 2002.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance received $25 million worth of free publicity by releasing its ad (celebrated for starring Kevin Federline) early last year, said Barbara Lippert, an ad critic for Adweek. Cision said that for PepsiCo Inc., the value of its Diet Pepsi ad being mentioned in TV news reports before Super Bowl XL was $12.3 million.

"We give out most of our Super Bowl ads early to the press because the media attention on the commercials is usually quite high," said Dave DeCecco, a spokesman for Pepsi.

Among the brands whose spots you can view now: PepsiCo Inc., Garmin International, GoDaddy.com and Unilever. Hyundai is distributing its ad to media this week and posting it on its consumer Web site today. Audi will allow people to watch its spot online a few hours before the game.

Teasers or snippets of many other offerings are available online, from companies such as Under Armour, Planters, Gatorade and Bridgestone Firestone North America.

Under Armour, the athletic apparel company launching its first non-cleated sneaker line with its Super Bowl spot, saw increased Web traffic and inquiries about the shoes after the release of a teaser, a spokesman said. The teasers feature athletes Jen Hudack, Vernon Davis and Carl Edwards, but not the shoes themselves — viewers won't see those until the Super Bowl.

Unless they're invited to the ad's premiere at Maxim's Super Bowl party in Phoenix on Friday.

Every year, online domain licensing site GoDaddy.com makes a point of producing an ad that the network declines as too racy, and then invites viewers to go it its Web site. GoDaddy then makes another ad that actually appears.

The spot accepted by Fox for this year's game shows an employee watching the rejected GoDaddy ad on a computer while other people watch TV, and it cuts to a sultry image of driver Danika Patrick, a GoDaddy spokeswoman, unzipping her jacket. (The rejected ad featured Patrick and a beaver, according to Advertising Age, which provided no more details.)

Doritos, which led the charge on consumer-generated ads last year, this year hosted a contest that asked bands and singers to submit original songs. People voted online for their favorites, and a professionally produced video of the winner will air during the Super Bowl.

In this photo released by Nationwide, Kevin Federline is seen in a clip from the 2007 Nationwide Super Bowl Ad “Life Comes at You Fast.” Deciding whether to pay for the expensive, but high-profile commercials is one of the key huddles many marketers have each year. - AP