SBD/February 4, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Social Media Helping Change The Way Super Bowl Advertisers Work

Many Super Bowl advertisers view this Sunday's game as a "tipping point for traditional media and social media," according to a money section cover story by Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Advertisers' "social-networking lead-up and follow-up to their game ads are going non-stop on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more." But it may be that Super Bowl XLV advertisers are "so focused on spreading the message across so many media channels that many forgot to focus on the content of the central message itself." This year's game might be "remembered for changing forever the way marketers expand their campaigns -- via new media far beyond the ad they buy in the Big Game." Horovitz notes after some "fits and starts in years past, marketers also seem to have figured out how to integrate new media into the Super Bowl effort." Instead of "nudging viewers to static websites, they'll steer them to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or smartphone and tablet apps, where folks can engage with the brands." PepsiCo Americas Beverages Head of Digital Shiv Singh, whose company for the first time has purchased an iPad-specific Super Bowl ad, said, "It's cosmically different, because it's not just a TV experience, but a multichannel, multiplatform, deeply social experience." Frito-Lay CMO Ann Mukherjee: "This is the new water cooler. ... Digital space is helping to re-create that human behavior of talking at the water cooler" (USA TODAY, 2/4). The AP's Mae Anderson noted marketers are "using every trick in the playbook to dominate the buzz before the game and long afterward, too." Gimmicks include "online contests, a car 'race' powered by Twitter mentions, and a secret new level of a hit iPhone game." The goal is to "build buzz, not get lost in the 42 minutes of Super Bowl ad time, and get cheap or free exposure when viewers watch again on YouTube" (AP, 2/3).

SNEAK PREVIEW: The GLOBE & MAIL's Simon Houpt notes for this year's Super Bowl, "more than ever before, marketers are treating their 30- or 60-second TV spots as something akin to feature films, using teaser trailers to instill a sense of anticipation for the ads’ broadcast debuts." Leading up to Sunday's game, Snickers "posted a 14-second trailer of its TV spot with comedians Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr, in which it touted the stars’ names in movie-like credits, and concluded by directing viewers to watch the ad in the game’s third quarter." E*Trade last week "put up an entertaining series of clips of talking babies that supposedly 'didn’t make it past the censors' for this year’s ad." Mercedes-Benz USA, making its Super Bowl debut, "posted a 'behind-the-scenes' video of its commercial shoot exclusively on Facebook that users must 'Like' before gaining access to it." Similarly, this weekend's "SNL" broadcast on NBC "will include a 15-second commercial from Volkswagen that will tease one of the car maker’s two spots to air during the big game" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/4). In N.Y., Stuart Elliott notes social media sites have "ushered in a new era" of Super Bowl advertising, and "marketers are doing what was once unthinkable." In addition to "offering sneak peeks of their spots and revealing contents of the commercials, many, like the vacation rental company HomeAway, are going the full Monty and sharing the entire ads in advance." But experts note that the "strategy isn't without risk." Ketchum Sports & Entertainment VP Shawn McBride: "There’s some real concern that it may dilute the ‘specialness’ that’s associated with advertising in the Super Bowl" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4).

WORTH THE INVESTMENT: CareerBuilder.com is advertising during the Super Bowl for the seventh straight year, and CMO Richard Castellini said, "Year in and year out, the Super Bowl has driven results for the company." The investment is evaluated every year, but Castellini said the ad annually "has given us a 30% lift in our invoicing," and each appearance as resulted in "record days in the Mondays and Tuesdays after the Super Bowl." He said, "There's something about being in the Super Bowl as an organization that makes you feel like you're competing in the highest levels" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 2/4). Meanwhile, Coca-Cola North America CMO Bea Perez said the company looks at the effectiveness of a Super Bowl ad “in a couple of different ways.” Perez: “We know that our brand health scores -- and that’s people who say they’ll buy our brands because of the messages -- we see those scores very high, highest they’ve been in the last five years. ... We also are looking at the business results and we also take the activation into retail” (Bloomberg TV, 2/3).
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