By Mae Anderson
NEW YORK -- Music is taking center stage at the Super Bowl -- and not just during the halftime show.
Bank of America (BAC) will have rock band U2 sing a new song during a commercial break. Pop band OneRepublic jams in a Bud Light ad for Anheuser Busch Inbev (BUD). And the legendary Bob Dylan's 1966 hit "I Want You" will appear in a Chobani yogurt spot.
The focus on music comes as many advertisers look for ways to engage the 108 million viewers who are expected to tune in during the Super Bowl. With each 30-second spot costing an estimated $4 million, many companies are turning away from controversial or "gross" spots that might offend. By focusing on music, experts say advertisers will be able to reach a wide swath of people.
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"Advertisers are following the lead of what really spreads culturally," said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer of Publicis' digital ad agency MRY. "The conversation around the Grammys and the VMAs keeps getting bigger. If you look at the most followed celebrities on places like Twitter (TWTR) it's people like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga."
- U2: The biggest music stunt of the night includes U2 singing a new single, "Invisible," during the break between the first and second quarters for Bank of America. The bank is promoting its partnership with AIDS nonprofit (RED). The song will be a free download on iTunes during the game and for the following 24 hours and Bank of America will donate $1 each time it is downloaded to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.
- BOB DYLAN: Folk singer Bob Dylan lends a track to a Chobani ad running in the third-quarter that shows a bear ransacking a small-town store until he finds the yogurt. There are reports that Dylan also will be making an appearance in a Chrysler ad (for Fiat (FIATY)).
- ONEREPUBLIC: Bud Light also will lean heavily on music. One ad will debut a new song by DJ and producer Afrojack, "Ten Feet Tall," that will be available for a free download after the commercial. Another ad shows a man being led on a spontaneous adventure after he accepts a Bud Light from a stranger and ends with the man on stage during a concert with the pop band OneRepublic.
- ELLEN DEGENERES: Beats Music makes its Super Bowl debut with an ad starring comedian Ellen Degeneres doing her take on the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She dances to different people's playlists until she finds one just right for her party.
Whether the focus on music will help brands stand out remains to be seen, but Tim Calkins, marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Business in Northwestern, said the key will be connecting music back to the brand.
"The risk with music is you don't want the song to overshadow the brand," he says. "As advertisers embrace music, you've got to make sure the brand doesn't get lost."