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Southern California companies betting millions on Super Bowl ads

Marc Seguin, vice president of marketing at Paramount Farms, stands next to a cardboard figure of Psy. Psy, the Korean pop star behind
Marc Seguin, vice president of marketing at Paramount Farms, stands next to a cardboard figure of Psy. Psy, the Korean pop star behind "Gangnam Style," is starring in Paramount Farms' first Super Bowl commercial.
KPCC/Wendy Lee

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The Super Bowl may be every football player’s dream, but to businesses, a Super Bowl commercial is a sign you’ve made it to the big leagues.

Several Southern California companies, from Taco Bell to Los Angeles-based Paramount Farms, a pistachio and almond business, are paying millions of dollars to pitch their products to captive football fans, eager to see the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens go head-to-head on Sunday. (Preview some Super Bowl videos below.)

The ads don’t come cheap. Some cost more than $4 million to air and you have to stand out from the 60 to 70 commercials during the game. But it’s a financial risk companies like Paramount Farms are willing to take.

“You can’t have a louder megaphone than the Super Bowl when it comes to advertising,” said Marc Seguin, Paramount Farms’ vice president of marketing.

RELATED: Super Bowl 2013: Where to watch, party in LA, SoCal

Seguin said his company will launch its first Super Bowl commercial, featuring Psy, the Korean pop star behind the hit, “Gangnam Style.” His music video on his official channel on YouTube has received more than 1 billion views and Seguin hopes that popularity will help his product.

“Psy is going to use a lot of his Gangnam-style moves to crack open pistachios in a way that only Psy could,” Seguin said. “I think everyone is going to be smiling and dancing when they see the commercial.”

Meanwhile, Manhattan Beach-based Skechers said it will air two Super Bowl commercials, including one that features former Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana.  He’ll be pumping up Relaxed Fit shoes and the commercial has a cameo from his former teammate, Ronnie Lott.

“Relaxed Fit gives guys the perfect combination in their footwear: incredibly comfortable shoes that look great in any setting,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers in a statement. “So we thought, let’s give them what they want with football legends delivering some old-school physical comedy.”

Dina Mayzlin, an associate professor of marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said successful Super Bowl commercials can boost sales, create buzz and even elevate a company’s image.

Nearly 180 million people are expected to watch Sunday’s game, according to the National Retail Federation. That means advertisers will have a captive audience that has made a sport of watching to see the elaborately made commercials.

“The beauty of Super Bowl ads is they really reach everybody,” Mayzlin said. “It’s not just men who watch it. Women watch it. Everybody watches the Super Bowl.”

If commercials are done wrong, it could cause backlash. This year’s Volkswagen commercial has people talking about whether or not it is racist. The ad features a white Minnesotan with a Jamaican accent trying to cheer up his glum co-workers. At the end of the commercial, it shows the Minnesotan is happy about life because he drives a Volkswagen car.

But pistachios and Psy are a different story.

Seguin said he believes the 30-second commercial could boost sales of the company’s “Wonderful Pistachios” brand by 20 percent.

“Wonderful Pistachios' brand has been growing non-stop since we launched it,” Seguin said. “We expect this to even escalate that growth.”

And Seguin is betting millions of dollars the Super Bowl commerical will score big for his company.