On Sunday, actor Ty Burrell will fulfill a goal that has long been on his bucket list: taking part in a Super Bowl commercial.

He put a lot of work into it. In a 30-second spot slated to air in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Burrell will be spotted making frivolous purchases like a jetpack, a giant yacht called the “TyTanic” and a life-size robot. He even agrees to buy a live Pegasus — all to the detriment of the character he portrays.  “It’s a miracle if that scene makes it to air,” says Burrell, in an interview. “This horse was just hungry. It was a very sweet horse, and it was on actual grass, and it was sort of looking at us like, ‘You’re expecting me to look at you when there’s delicious grass? You’re crazy.’’’ Burrell even pretended to speak to the animal in an improvised version of Elvish, just to get a laugh.

The commercial isn’t just Burrell’s first in the Super Bowl. It’s also the first Big Game entry from the agency that created it, Haymaker, and for the advertiser paying for it, Greenlight. The Atlanta company makes an app and debit card for kids and tries to teach them about managing finances at an early age. And the ad will show children and their families what happens when they spend without thinking first. The time has come, says Tim Sheehan, the company’s CEO, for more people to know about what his firm does.

That’s why Greenlight is making a Super Bowl play. “It’s tough to reach busy parents. It really is,” Sheehan says. But on Sunday, “we think families will likely be together, watching, and maybe even with friends gathering. The big attraction to me is the 100 million unique people watching it.”

Yet Greenlight isn’t the only rookie taking to the Super Bowl field. Indeed, dozens of first-time Super Bowl sponsors are entering the fray, adding a different element to the game’s annual advertising extravaganza. Many are fighting for consumer recognition, and think a Super Bowl shout-out will score thousands of likes, tweets, website visits and (maybe) dollars. “Brands that are new to the game are more often than not members of emerging categories where competition is stiff, and the likelihood of all the players in the category surviving very small,“ says Jeremy Carey, chief investment officer of Omnicom’s Optimum Sports, one of the biggest sports-media buying agencies on Madison Avenue.

In the not-so-distant past, a small handful of unknowns, entrepreneurs and upstarts would spend millions to get in on a Super Bowl ad game long dominated by traditional names like Pepsi, Budweiser, Doritos and Toyota. As technology forces rapid changes to the way Americans live, however, hundreds of companies flush with cash are eager to make a bid for Super Bowl attention.

NBC says its broadcast of Super Bowl LVI will have 30 new advertisers representing about 40% of the total advertisers in the game. CBS’ 2021 broadcast of Super Bowl LV featured 26 first-time advertisers, with names like Oatly, Mercari, Vroom.com and Klarna, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. Just seven new advertisers took to the Super Bowl in 2020 and 2019.

The flock of new supporters comes along with the rise of several big new business categories. Cryptocurrencies, streaming video subscriptions and easy access to sports betting weren’t being advertised when the Super Bowl was the province of emotion-stirring commercials from Coca Cola or Apple. And ads for direct-response businesses were once viewed as cheap and shoddy; that’s no longer the case in the era of Wayfair and Warby Parker. This year’s ad roster will include debuts from Crypto.com, FTX and Coinbase Global, all cryptocurrency exchanges, and Caesars Sportsbook.

“These companies have tons and tons of money, and everyone is looking for a bit of a land grab, and what better place to do it than in the Super Bowl?” asks Jeff Gagne, senior vice president of strategic investments at Havas Media, a large media buyer.

Other first-timers this year include Planet Fitness; Carvana; Wallbox, a manufacturer of charging systems; and Rakuten, a shopping and rewards tool that has enlisted Hannah Waddingham from “Ted Lasso” to break through the crowd. “We’ve been working hard over the last 18 months to build a brand in the U.S. that reflects the joy of shopping,” says Dana Marineau, chief marketing officer at Rakuten Rewards, and the sense that the company reflects optimism.  “The Super Bowl is the perfect stage to claim this leadership position in the category.”

The networks once frowned on letting too many newbies fill their Super Bowl commercial breaks. In 2009, recession-challenged NBC let Cash4Gold to buy a spot in Super Bowl, giving entry to an advertiser more commonly associated with direct-response ads with lower production values. The ad featured MC Hammer and former “Tonight” sidekick Ed McMahon. GoDaddy, then a domain-name registrar, in 2005 showed an ad with a model having a wardrobe malfunction in front of Congress that sparked a debate about taste standards (but not much of one; the company continued to buy Super Bowl commercials in most years through 2016). And other rookies like SalesGenie, Groupon, and 84 Lumber ran ads that offended specific groups, of people or tripped wires about sensitive political topics.

One freshman advertiser, Just For Feet, should have never gotten into the game. The athletic-shoe chain ran a Super Bowl spot in 1999 that showed a group of white men tracking down a Kenyan runner and forcing Nike shoes on to his feet. Viewers and critics cringed, and the retailer went so far as to sue the ad agency that created the spot, Saatchi & Saatchi, before declaring bankruptcy.

New Super Bowl advertisers often “don’t have experience and don’t have processes in place to do this,” says Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management who has long studied Super Bowl commercials. “There’s no question that some of these new advertisers can really miss the mark.”

Some of the newbies are ringers. Irish Spring is a soap that has been around since the 1970s, and still conjures up memories of old ads in which a burly Irish man would cut a bar of soap with a penknife to reveal the stripes throughout, or a woman might tell viewers the soap was “manly, yes, but I like it too.” Behind this supermarket staple, however, stands Colgate-Palmolive, a company that has spent decades — and billions — honing its pitches to consumers, and then assiduously researching their responses.

“We’re taking the learnings we have had over the past couple of years about how to engage our consumers and the media,” says Emily Fong Mitchell. general manager of personal care for North America at Colgate-Palmolive. “We have a lot of history about what has and hasn’t worked in the past.” The company hopes to refresh consumers’ perceptions of Irish Spring and get more millennials and Generation Z members interested in its grooming products and their scents.

Executives at Greenlight have something else: a mission they feel is critical.  They think the Super Bowl is the best venue to help parents realize “this is a solution that would be great for them, but they didn’t know existed,” says Rachel Hamilton, the company’s chief marketing officer. As such, she adds, gaining awareness through the Super Bowl “is a key part of our strategy,” and staffers will be dispatched on Sunday to make sure the company’s site is ready to handle an influx of visitors and to monitor social-media reaction to the commercial.

Meanwhile, Burrell, an avid Rams fans, plans to be on hand at the Super Bowl venue, SoFi Stadium, to enjoy the event. He stays off social media and won’t be able to see any immediate reaction in the digital sphere. But he thinks the commercial has a shot, because of the help Greenlight tries to lend. “I really think there’s an opportunity to do some good,” he says.