I may be running late on the post-Super Bowl analysis train, but it’s difficult writing during the week. Besides, I think this delay provided us some broader perspective after seeing all the ads.
Record High Ad Prices Lead to Digital Strategy
108 million people tuned in Sunday February 3 to watch the 47th Super Bowl game (a decrease of about 3% from last year – 111 million people) and some others to watch the 53 ads. Advertisers paid between 3.7-3.8$ million for 30 seconds of air time, bringing a revenue of about 275$ Million to CBS. This represents a consistent increase in Super Bowl ad revenue for the past few years.
I guess marketers scratched their heads trying to explain the benefit of spending almost 4,000,000$ just to air an ad that would probably be forgotten within 2 days or the online life cycle of an average TV ad. They had to lengthen this time period, by finally implementing digital strategy into the ad, making it a comprehensive campaign rather than one time TV appearance and then disappearing into oblivion.
Let The Audience Do the Work
This called for audience engagement, spurring additional conversations about the brands. The engagement differed in the control rate the audience had and the timing of that engagement. Obviously these are intertwined, with strong positive correlation – will prove it scientifically some other time, but the logic is understood.
I. Audience Control Rate:
Audience engagement varied from using a Hashtag in the ad (the huge majority of them did, for example M&M with #betterwithmms) in order to encourage a conversation about the brand, to a matter of choice (the Audi “Prom” ad) all the way to total control of the ad’s content.
The Lincoln car brand used the latter option for their MKZ by partnering with Jimmy Fallon using the hashtag #steerthescript, where people could tweet their road trip stories, eventually integrating the best ones into the ad. I think the result is rather boring.
Compare that with Doritos – a masterpiece of using your fans’ devotion online, by setting up a competition where the fans could suggest a script for a vote. Winning it resulted in seeing the ad being aired to 108 million people. I wonder what this does to the consumer-brand connection. I believe their quality and goofy content (as always) will result in high virality rate in the number of viewers online.
And the other winner (not as good as the previous one, in my opinion):
II. Timing of Engagement:
The Lincoln brand chose to build momentum (or so it tried), launching the campaign two months in advance, while Audi released a few days before the game 3 ads with different endings for their “Prom” ad so the audience could choose what would be aired.
Oreo, in maybe the best ad in the Super Bowl this year, directed its fans in the ad to an Instagram virtual fight to decide whether the cookie or the cream is the best part.
They completely nailed it, when during the 34 minutes blackout they rolled out on social media a small picture, gaining more than 15,000 shares. This just to show that a smart social media team and a marketer that understands the tool can push the brand further using these tools. It just calls for cooperation and trust – how many advertisers have that with their clients?
Tradition vs. New-Media Ad Approaches
But there were also some more “traditional” ads, which didn’t put any emphasis on a website, facebook or a hashtag, that basically won our hearts with a marvelous story telling ability, demonstrating the true nature of the advertising industry.
For example, Mercedes-Benz who did a great job taking us to a trip of how it is to sell your soul to the devil.
GoDaddy may be remembered mostly this year for the not-so-photogenic “wet kiss” Bar Refaeli ad, which definitely made waves across the web, but I found the other ad “Your Big Idea” wittier (have I just punned?). Though chauvinistic as always, GoDaddy were very sharp showcasing an international phenomenon about a man’s idea. I hope they will go more in this direction rather than simply showing beautiful women under the motto of “sex sells”. With the performances they saw after the Refaeli ad, I guess I am going to be disappointed.
Chrysler, however, keeps on receiving the critics’ acclaims in telling the American story – 3rd year in a row. After Eminem in 2011 and Clint Eastwood in 2012 (you can see why I chose them as the best Super Bowl ads in my previous post) this time was done for the Dodge Ram brand. Again a masterpiece – telling a story using nothing but still pictures and a 2 minute speech by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Nothing left to say but to watch it again.
The Next Games
I know I missed plenty of great advertisements, but I wanted to give my 5c on the issues behind them.
When – according to a 2012 Google study – 77 percent of TV viewers use another device, it is expected to see more marketers rely on social media driving the audience to continue the conversation about the brands.
Even though Twitter had the upper hand this year, we should expect to see more power shifts between platforms as marketers and advertisers learn how to work with the tools during the most viewed events on television. I separate the Super Bowl’s commercial breaks from regular prime-time ones, because people are willing to watch the ads, looking for them online, while regular ads are mostly ignored.
We should ask ourselves about the effectiveness of the commercial break arena during the Super Bowl, once consumers are exposed to the ads before the game (even commercials that were banned, such as SodaStrem) – will it become a platform of “live conversations” between consumers? What is the added value of watching the ads on air?
I don’t believe social media participation will become a standard but it will depend on the context of the campaign. I hope these multi-million dollars experiments will seep into the routine and yearly campaigns as the benefit and activation are understood.
What do you think? What were the best and worst practices of social media use in the Super Bowl? What did you like most? What have I left out and should have been in?