Advertisers shelled out new record dollar amounts for 30-second spots at this year's Super Bowl, but as more ads feature current hits and emerging singles as their soundtrack, the Super Bowl has also grown into a top hit-making destination for the music industry too.
Some artists are even becoming the stars of ads themselves. PSY was among the first celebs to be confirmed for a Super Bowl ad this year, set to become the new face of Wonderful Pistachios (to the tune of "Gangnam Style," no less). Usher makes a dancing cameo in Mercedes-Benz’s cinematic spot (scored by the Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” no less.) And there still a few surprises being kept under wraps from Mars as well as Bud Light, the latter of whom will feature a superstar musician in two spots featuring Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” its NFL anthem.
Even more interesting is the news that the Flaming Lips will be the stars of one of Hyundai's four Super Bowl spots, a 60-second commercial that features the band on-camera performing a brand-new, custom-written song called "Sun Blows Up Today," which Billboard premiered earlier this week. Writing a song for a Super Bowl spot is a rare move for a major act, let alone one with a legacy as unusual as the Flaming Lips. The commercial showcases Hyundai's Santa Fe, a crossover SUV, and was created by in-house ad agency Innocean.
Hyundai VP of marketing Steve Shannon says the Lips were on a "very short list" of bands the automaker wanted to feature in its Super Bowl spot, and quickly rose to the top after the act noted it was preparing for the release of its next album, The Terror (April 2, Warner Bros. Records). In a matter of weeks, not only did the group sign on for the ad and the original song, the track was eventually confirmed for inclusion as a bonus cut for its upcoming iTunes release. "The Flaming Lips are very much like Hyundai," Shannon says. "They're a little offbeat. They've been around a long time and they continue to reinvent themselves."
As part of the partnership, Hyundai will give away 100,000 free downloads of the Lips track at Hyundai.com, as well as sponsor a lyric video of the song and 30-second radio ads to drive tune-in to the spot and awareness of the Lips' upcoming album. "Hyundai really understands and appreciates what the Flaming Lips are all about," says Lori Feldman, Warner Bros. Records senior VP of brand partnerships.
And though advertisers are paying upwards of $3.7 million just to air their spot during the big game, major synchs can fetch anywhere from $100,000 to upwards of $1 million, depending on the artist, number of territories airing the ad, the length of the commercial "flight," or airtime, and whether the song has been synched previously.
One synch likely on the upper tier of that spectrum is Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," written by Stevie Nicks. The classic song was commercially licensed for the very first time for Budweiser's "Clydesdale" spot, which debuted online early Thursday. “We knew she was very protective,” Paul Chibe, Budweiser's VP of marketing, says of Nicks' tentative approach to synchs, “but when she saw the script she felt it was an appropriate presentation, that it was an elevation of the music and not something that would take away from it.”
Budweiser will also be advertising its new Black Crown beer with two spots from ad agency Translation synched with indie rock -- the SoHo Dolls' "Stripper" in one, Peter Bjorn & John's "Second Chance" in the other. "Our music strategy is about discovery and reintroduction," Chibe added.
Halftime star Beyonce will kick off her renewed $50 million relationship with Pepsi, but will not appear in Pepsi's lead-in spot to its halftime show (a global Beyonce spot is set for later this spring, tied to her album launch in April, Billboard has learned). Instead, Pepsi will use its pre-halftime ad space for user-generated content from the brand’s fan contest to participate in the show itself. "Our responsibility both to the viewers and to our brand is to keep evolving that experience and making it better," says Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement for Pepsi’s sparkling beverages. "We think this is going to be a fantastic year with Beyonce and the way in which we are connecting to each other."
After ads from the 2012 Super Bowl embraced active singles in a big way-most notably fun.'s "We Are Young" and Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" -- Universal Music Publishing Group executive VP/head of film and TV music Brian Lambert expects similar activity from this year's game. "The whole goal of the advertiser is to get the attention of people, whether their eyes are glued to the TV or their back is turned, and having a great song really helps with that," he says.