NEW YORK — Super Bowl advertisers are learning the art of the tease.
Supermodel Kate Upton appears in an online Mercedes-Benz video in a low-cut top. An unknown man wakes up with his face covered in smeared lipstick and his hands bound in furry handcuffs in a Gildan Activewear clip. And "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan seemingly curses in a spot for Kraft's Mio flavored drops.
"Hey, can you say (bleep) on TV?" he asks in the spot titled "Bleep."
Super Bowl advertisers no longer are keeping spots a secret until the Big Game. They're releasing online snippets of their ads or longer video trailers that allude to the action in the Game Day spot.
It's an effort to squeeze more publicity out of advertising's biggest stage by creating pregame buzz. Advertisers are shelling out $4 million to get their 30-second spots in front of the 111 million viewers expected to tune into the game. But they're looking for ways to reach even more people: About half of the more than 30 super Bowl advertisers are expected to have teaser ads this year, up from 10 last year, according to Hulu, which aggregates Super Bowl ads on its AdZone Web site.
"It's a great way to pique people's interest," said Paul Chibe, chief marketing officer at Anheuser-Busch, which introduced snippets of one of its Super Bowl ads showing a woman in a shiny dress striding down a hallway with a beer. "If you create expectations before the game people will want to look for your ad in the telecast."
There's an art to teasers. Each spot, which can run from a few seconds to over a minute long, is intended to drive up hype by giving viewers clues about Game Day ads. But the key is to not give too much away. So marketers must walk a fine line between revealing too much — or too little — about their Super Bowl ads.