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Best Buy lines up smartphone deal for Super Bowl

The electronics retailer hopes to use the big game to drum up mobile sales by offering a short-term deal with $50 gift cards for smartphone buyers.

Square co-founder Jim McKelvey has snagged a cameo in Best Buy's Super Bowl ad. Best Buy

Best Buy hopes the Super Bowl will bring super-sized crowds of smartphone buyers to its stores.

The retailer plans to run its second-ever Super Bowl spot, this year placing the spotlight solely on mobile and creating a short-term deal that will dole out $50 gift cards to customers who buy smartphones this year.

The push is part of Best Buy's increased focus on mobile, which remains one of the stronger revenue drivers for the retail chain. While the company is seeing slowing sales and price cuts in other areas, smartphones are lucrative.

Most consumers still tend to go to their carriers to buy phones and sign up for service plans. Online services such as or Wirefly also offer cheaper alternatives and deals. But Best Buy, which is among the largest non-carrier retailers of smartphones, hopes to become a go-to destination for consumers.

"It's pretty clear America wants to upgrade to smartphones," said Scott Moore, vice president of marketing for Best Buy's connectivity business group. "We want to use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to awaken recognition of Best Buy as a mobile source."

To that end, the company is offering a limited promotion. Customers who register a phone number with Best Buy here between this Sunday's Super Bowl and February 12 are eligible to receive a $50 gift card. They don't need to make the purchase now; the card is reserved until the customer buys a new phone or changes service plans. Once registered, customers have until the end of the year to earn the card.

Best Buy operates under a similar model as the carriers, offering phones with rebates and discounts and getting paid a bounty, or monthly fee, for each person it signs up.

For last year's Super Bowl, Best Buy memorably paired up Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber for a spot that dealt with the dilemma of gadgets upgrading too quickly. This time around, the retailer plans a lower key approach, highlighting lesser known but important figures in the wireless industry.

They include Philippe Kahn, who is credited with being the first to create a camera phone that could share photos on a public network; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of the mobile-payments company Square; and Kevin Systrom, founder of hit photo app Instagram.

"We're drawing off their innovation to showcase how Best Buy is doing the same with the mobile buying experience," Moore said.