Super Bowl advertisers are continuing to build ad campaigns for the commercials themselves. Beginning this weekend in conjunction with the NFL conference championships, Mercedes-Benz is kicking off marketing not for the model it will promote in a 60-second Super Bowl ad on Feb. 1, but for the fictional championship the spot will apparently depict.
In this weekend's commercials, Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice will host a faux sports talk show where guests debate who will win "The Big Race." The competitors are two iconic characters from fable, the Tortoise and the Hare.
The luxury automaker tapped Merkley & Partners to create the Super Bowl spot and its supporting campaign.
Trying to build excitement early is part of the standard Super Bowl advertiser playbook by now. Last year, Super Bowl advertisers including Oikos, Audi, Toyota, Butterfinger and Squarespace released commercials or web videos hyping their big-game ads well before game day. This year, Lexus has already released its full Super Bowl commercial.
Mercedes wanted its Super Bowl ad to have a relationship to the game, and as such created a campaign patterned around the Super Bowl itself, using the tropes of sports talk, endless predictions and anticipation for the event itself. The teasers will run on Sunday during an NFL Championship pregame show and on a variety of sports programming throughout the day. They will continue to run for the two weeks leading up to the game.
"The Super Bowl has tremendous value when it coincides with a significant piece of news we want to talk about," said Drew Slaven, VP-marketing, Mercedes-Benz.
While Mr. Slaven declined to divulge specifics about what that news is, he said a Mercedes model will play a key role in who wins "The Big Race."
"There is a hero at the end of the race," he said.
Aside from these teasers, which will air on TV and in digital media, Mercedes has built Twitter accounts for the Tortoise and the Hare. Viewers can make their own predictions on who will win by tweeting #TeamTortoise or #TeamHare for a chance to win a "Big Race" viewing party.
There's also a radio component, with ESPN talk-show hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic weighing in on who will reach the winner's circle during their show "Mike & Mike."