Newswise — What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Muppets, Abraham Lincoln and the cast of “Full House” have to do with Bud Light, Toyota, Volkswagen and Greek yogurt? And what do they all have to do with the Super Bowl? The brands that are spending millions of dollars to air their spots during the Fox broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII are hoping millions of curious viewers will tune in to find out.

For some time now, the anticipation over which football team will take home the sport’s top trophy has been matched by the anticipation over which TV commercial will be the game’s most memorable. With such big bucks on the line, advertisers are no longer content to let those commercials speak for themselves. So while kickoff time for the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos won’t be until 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, the ad campaigns kicked off weeks ago.

“You know something different is happening when even the commercials have their own promos,” says marketing expert Scott Hamula. “Super Bowl ads are becoming ‘must-see’ events just like the latest blockbuster movie or primetime television show. In the weeks leading up to the unveiling, marketers are going on TV and online to tease viewers with the promise of seeing something spectacular on Super Bowl Sunday.”

And so we’ve been seeing spots with Schwarzenegger in a wig and a warm-up suit incongruously behind a ping pong table, as Bud Light entices us with the tag line to find out “whatever is coming” on 2.2.14. Toyota promises “there will be Muppets” in the trailer for its Highlander ad. Volkswagen includes Lincoln — the president, not the car — among a cast of characters populating the supposed perfectly engineered commercial. And Dannon Oikos yogurt goes for the nostalgia factor by reuniting stars John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier from the TV series “Full House.”

But these aren’t the only innovations planned by brands hoping to gain viewer interest. The fashion retailer H&M has created two endings for its ad featuring soccer star David Beckham in his skivvies. H&M is showing most of the spot online, but letting consumers decide whether it should end with even more of Beckham showing, by voting for either #covered or #uncovered.

“Savvy advertisers are thinking outside the television box and incorporating social media into traditional television commercials,” says Hamula, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication in the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. “Integrating social media helps increase the amount of earned media a brand will capture and engages the audience in more active ways. Instead of passively watching a commercial, they are now interacting with the brand. The impact increases exponentially.”

To hear more of Scott Hamula’s thoughts on Super Bowl XLVIII advertising, contact him at [email protected] or (607) 274-1034.