VW racks up 14.5m views of its Darth Vader Super Bowl ad

UPDATED Feb 7 Volkswagen looks to have a major social media success on its hands. Its humorous Super Bowl ad featuring a pint sized Darth Vader has already racked up more than 14.5 million views on YouTube in a year where brands are making more use out of social media than ever before when it comes to the Super Bowl.

Last week that figure stood at 4.5 million. Another Ten million have flocked to watch it over the weekend.

The VW spot (below) for the new 2012 Passat has a child dressed as the Star Wars character trying to use the force to move various objects around the house with slightly less success than the larger dark lord enjoyed.

Off the field Super Bowl XLV is going to be all about social media. While in 2010 E-Trade was the only advertiser to use a tease to its Facebook or Twitter presence at the end of its Super Bowl ad this time around it won’t be alone.

Audi, Budweiser, VW (with a Star Wars themed ad) and Teleflora are among those advertisers hooking up their TV ads to their social media presence.

And at least one advertiser, Audi, will feature a Twitter hashtag in its spot for the first time. Will that go over the head of most viewers? Maybe, but this is the shape of ads to come. Using hashtags if you’ve got a campaign that needs is a powerful way to get a conversation going.

What’s interesting is hearing  Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer at Audi, say that the TV ad is the starting point and that conversation can only be sustained by social media.

And you really want the conversation to be sustained when you’re paying between $2.8m and $3m for a prime Super Bowl airtime as the Green Bay Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL final.

Budweiser has been teasing with still shots of its three planned Bud Light Super Bowl ads on its Facebook page. Budweiser is inviting its nearly one million fans on its Bud Light page to guess the content of its ads.

Sounds interesting, what’s the prize? The prize is …you unlock another ad. Really? Not sure anyone really thought that through even if the fourth unlocked ad is an internet-only “exclusive”.

Somehow I’m thinking that Bud Light, which has been suffering falling sales in recent years, is going to need something more than that. The idea is as flat as sales.

On Bud Light’s Facebook page Matt Everhart wrote RE: “What you’re telling us… is that we have to watch 3 commercials… so that we get to watch ANOTHER commercial? that is utterly, unequivocally retarded. if this works you guys are advertising superheroes.”

Teleflora, back again for its third round as a Super Bowl advertiser, has in the past used Facebook to spark conversations about its spot that features country singer Faith Hill. But this year, it is placing even more emphasis on social-media and using its spot to draw attention to its “Flower Coach” app for iPhone and iPad. This allows consumers tell friends via email or Twitter that they are sending them flowers.

E-Trade  is planning to will show outtakes from its popular commercials on YouTube as well as real-time updates from its Talking Baby character on Twitter and Facebook.

Nick Utton, Chief Marketing Officer, E-Trade: “Our Super Bowl spots have proven to be an effective component of E-Trade integrated campaign communicating how E-Trade empowers investors with the tools, technology and services needed to take control. And with many viewers expected to engage through social media, and nearly one in three Americans likely to view the commercials online after the game, our new campaign will create a compelling, memorable, viral interaction with the E-Trade brand and iconic Talking Baby.”

Volkswagen, which is using its Super Bowl spot to give sneak peaks of the 2012 Passat and a redesigned version of the New Beetle. It is planning a wealth of digital and social media activity including an ESPN mobile takeover, VW.com blog, Facebook as well as a YouTube homepage.

YouTube has proved massively popular for VW in previously years. Last year around one million people saw its ad online after the game with 850,000 watching on YouTube, but even before the Super Bowl it has already smashed that target. No surprise it is a hugely charming well made spot that makes good use of the Star Wars universe, which has been badly served recently with ads for the likes of PC World in the UK.