A handful of regular b-to-b advertisers are returning to the Super Bowl this year, but with fewer spots than last year.
Tech companies, led by web development and hosting firms, are among the advertisers trying to reach business viewers during the Big Game.
Long-time Super Bowl advertiser GoDaddy.com, a web-hosting company, is returning to the Super Bowl for its 11th consecutive year, although this year it will run only one spot -- down from two last year.
"Our international growth has been phenomenal, so from an advertising and budgeting standpoint, we've had to look at all the markets we're having active growth in," said Barb Rechterman, CMO at GoDaddy.com. "We're putting more resources into international markets."
She said the Super Bowl still remained an important platform for GoDaddy to reach small-business customers.
GoDaddy pulled its original ad, a 30-second spot called "The Journey Home," created by Barton F. Graf, about a puppy who gets lost but returns to his breeder, who is relieved because he's just sold him on a website created by GoDaddy. The spot immediately received criticism over the idea of selling a puppy online after it was released on the "Today" show Tuesday.
Instead, GoDaddy will run a humorous commercial, also by Barton F. Graf, although it declined to release any details.
Website-development company Squarespace is also returning to the Super Bowl this year with one spot, a 30-second commercial created by Wieden & Kennedy New York.
The spot features actor Jeff Bridges, who promotes his "Sleeping Tapes" music venture using Squarespace's web-publishing platform.
"Squarespace can be used by anyone [from] a student setting up a portfolio site in college to a business that needs a sophisticated e-commerce platform," said Anthony Casalena, founder and CEO of Squarespace. "Because of the wide, wide audience out there who can use Squarespace, it makes sense for us to message out to a mass audience."
Squarespace released a teaser spot for the campaign on Wednesday.
Wix.com, another web-development company, is making its debut in the Super Bowl this year with a 30-second spot called "#It'sThatEasy," featuring former NFL players such as Brett Favre, Terrell Owens and Emmitt Smith as they create fictitious businesses in their lives after football.
Wix released an extended version of the ad on Tuesday.
The spot was directed and produced by Frank Samuel, Jeff Reed and Lauren Bayer
In the ad, the fictitious businesses -- such a "Favre and Carve" and "Immaculate Receptions" -- were built using Wix.com's web-publishing platform.
"Today we have 59 million users around the world, but we are one of the few companies in this space people don't know about," said Eric Mason, director-strategic marketing communications at Wix.com. "The Super Bowl lets us tell more people about who we are as a company."
Software company Intuit is also returning to the Super Bowl this year with a 60-second commercial for its TurboTax accounting software, created by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
The spot is aimed at consumers and small-business owners. Intuit is also down one spot this year.
In last year's Super Bowl, Intuit ran an ad called "Love Hurts" for its TurboTax product -- also created by Wieden & Kennedy -- as well as a campaign called "Small Business Big Game." The latter promoted a contest for small businesses in which the winning video was featured in a 30-second Super Bowl ad created by RPA Santa Monica, Calif.
"Last year, the small-business ad was part of a larger program, Intuit Small Business Big Game, created to celebrate small business across America," said Colleen Gatlin, an Intuit spokeswoman.
"This year, it is just TurboTax, as the timing of the event provides a great opportunity to reach a large, captive audience about the benefits of preparing and filing taxes with TurboTax, during one of the busiest tax filing weekends of the season," she said. "While we aren't revealing details on the creative, TurboTax's Super Bowl ad will be different from the brand campaign that is in market right now and will support a big business strategy for the brand this year."
Microsoft Corp. is also returning to the Super Bowl this year with a 60-second ad, although it did not disclose details of the campaign. Last year, Microsoft ran an emotional ad called "Empowerment," showcasing the power of technology.