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Ferris Bueller and the death of the Super Bowl ad

Earlier this week, a Super Bowl ad for the Honda CRV featuring Matthew Broderick in a send up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off appeared online.
Image: Matthew Broderick in Honda ad
Honda received wide acclaim, and plenty of views, for its ad. But will anyone care by the time it airs during the game?Honda
/ Source: Forbes

Earlier this week, a Super Bowl ad for the Honda CRV featuring Matthew Broderick in a send up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off appeared online. It’s quickly made the rounds on the Internet, garnering praise from places like the Los Angeles Times and Adweek. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s a brilliant send up of a modern-day Matthew Broderick acting like his character from the 1986 film, and it’s worth a watch.

They’re not alone in trying to get a jump on the competition in their Super Bowl spots. Early today, Honda was pushing another early Super Bowl ad, featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno fighting over the chance to be the first to own an Acura NSX . David Beckham shirtless for H&M is also floating around the internet, as are numerous teaser trailers for Super Bowl ads coming from companies like Volkswagen, Doritos, Priceline and Coca-Cola, whose polar bears have already taken to the internet to invite viewers to their party on Super Bowl Sunday. The competition is fierce enough that they’re advertising their ads.

There’s no doubt about it: Super Bowl Sunday is the largest captive audience in the calendar, with over 111 million viewers tuning in in 2011, and it’s the one time in the year advertisers really get to shine as millions tune in to watch the ads as much as they do to watch the football. Right now, that’s translating into the priciest Super Bowl ads in history: the price for 30 seconds of airtime is estimated at $3.5 million for 30 seconds.

It’s in that spirit that Honda has decided to leak their commercial, trying their best to get as big a section of the most hotly contested attention of the year. At the moment, it seems to be working, spreading like wildfire through the internet. In Volkswagen’s teaser this year, a bunch of dogs barking music from Star Wars, has 10 million. We’re not up at Super Bowl numbers yet, but there’s still time. Rebbeca Black’s “Friday,” the top YouTube video of 2011, got 167 million hits, which means 167 million times the video was navigated to and viewed on purpose. Volkswagen’s Super Bowl commercial from last year has 50 million, easily more than the number of Super Bowl viewers that saw it and paid attention. And Volkswagen put it there for free.

The top posts of all time make the Super Bowl look silly with over 400 million hits.

Right now, the social media campaigns play second fiddle to the the big event, but to me, the social media excitement surrounding their release presages their doom: if Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller and Honda can make a social media campaign that stands on its own a full week before the Super Bowl, wouldn’t that appear to devalue the event itself? Even for all the attention lavished on it now, social media is still in its infancy when compared to pop culture institutions like the Super Bowl, and the degree to which advertisers can get audiences by manipulating the medium. For all intents and purposes, Broderick’s CRV ad is already out, but it’s not a Super Bowl ad — it’s a YouTube ad.

A stat like $3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime may see a serious hit in the future as advertisers realize that the internet can yield just as big an audience as football without having to go through NBC.