I love watching the Superbowl for two reasons: booze and ads. While enjoying several delectable glasses of malbec last night, I couldn’t help but wonder why this year’s ads seemed to suck exponentially more so than prior years’. Not only was the entertainment value lackluster, but there were just some palpable rookie mistakes in ad execution. For example…
42: percentage of commercials that pointed to a web site.
10: percentage of commercials that pointed to some form of social media.
These numbers are disheartening! The Superbowl is the ONE time a year where you’ve actually got a massive, captive audience. People WANT to see your ads. They are on the edge of their seat, waiting with bated breath to see what excitement the next commercial will bring (slight hyperbole). If you don’t seize that opportunity to drive interaction in other channels, you are wasting the $2.7 million it cost you to purchase that 30-second ad spot.
What’s even more pathetic is that, of those who pointed to a web site from their ad, only 10 brands customized their landing page to feature content/media that extended the message of their Superbowl ad. Most brands left their home page just as it was pre-Superbowl, marching on in the futile quest to convert visitors to customers with an array of disjointed calls-to-action and frenzied, confusing design.
Of those brands that made an effort to get consumers involved with their social media presence, I didn’t really see any that executed a solid campaign…
- Pepsi Max (Facebook). The default landing tab for those who do not already like the brand is “Cooking with Snoop: Superbowl Edition.” By the time people see the Pepsi Max ads and then visit the Facebook page, their Superbowl feast is already prepared (and likely consumed). So who needs to see Snoop’s infamous dip recipe? Pepsi Max does have a tab featuring videos of their commercials – which should have been the default landing tab. And they should have enhanced it, perhaps by allowing consumers to vote on their favorite, leave comments, etc. FAIL.
- Bud Light (Facebook). The default landing tab did, in fact, include all of their ads but you had to “like” the page to view, which was a smart move. However, like Pepsi Max, there was no additional level of interaction beyond viewing the videos. If I didn’t want to commit to liking them and receiving their updates in my News Feed, I could have just Googled the ads and watched them in another channel. MEH.
- Lowes (Facebook). Nothing special here. Default landing is the Wall. No custom tabs. No reference to Superbowl spot. FAIL.
- Skechers Shape-ups (Facebook). First of all, there are multiple Shape-up pages, so I had to dig a bit to find the “real” page. The real page featured Brooke Burke as the main image whereas the Superbowl ad starred Kim Kardashian. There was no custom tab and no incentive to like the page. FAIL.
- Budweiser (Facebook). Default landing tab was the Superbowl ad, but again, no deeper level of interaction. FAIL.
Here’s how I distill all of this – a few key items to avoid when planning a massive marketing effort:
- Do not get lazy. Yeah Subway, I’m lookin’ at you (among others). You shelled out big bucks for those 30 seconds only to run the same $5 footlong ad you’ve been running since the last week of January? What a waste!
- Do not lose your brand in irrelevance. *ahem* Bud Light *ahem* BL’s slogan is “Sure sign of a good time,” but none of their ads made me feel like a good time was being had. They were simply odd and off-putting. Same with McDonald’s and their bears-attacking-a-car-of-teens spot. Seems counter to the hip “I’m lovin’ it” culture they’ve spent years trying to craft.
- Do not miss opportunities to integrate traditional media with other digital marketing channels. Again, you have a captive audience that is finally listening to you – exploit that to the fullest extent! Encourage them to visit your Facebook page or YouTube channel – and don’t just put your Facebook URL in the ad because it seems cool – be prepared to feature special content (e.g., outtakes, a surprise ending, a poll for consumers to vote on their favorite ad, etc.).
- Do not operate under the assumption that any exposure is good exposure. If you put out a shitty product (yes, your ad is a product unto itself), it has just as much power to erode your brand as a negative customer experience.
- Do not neglect a measurement or a follow-through plan. I see so many brands that dismiss even making an effort to measure the effectiveness of their traditional advertisements. But again, because you have a captive audience, this is a prime opportunity to drive consumers to digital channels where supplemental content/media await. You can measure web traffic, clicks, shares, etc. So, of the 100 million impressions that your $2.7 million bought you, you can say that 2% of those were highly engaged consumers (because they didn’t just passively watch your commercial, but took the initiative to visit your Facebook/YouTube/landing page for more). Follow up with a coupon, free trial or other exclusive offer and you’re one step closer to selling more widgets to those 2 million highly-engaged peeps.
What sucks is that, more than anything, the lack of integration across ads and social media is proof positive that specialties within marketing (advertising, strategy, campaigns, social media) continue to be silo-ed.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the actual content of the ads. I try to evaluate based on both the entertainment value and whether the ad is consistent with the brand and its overall message. On that basis, here are my top picks:
- Pepsi Max and Doritos. The “Crash the Superbowl” campaign was a brilliant idea. Two power brands that epitomize a fun, youthful culture coming together in a contest that is not only fully integrated across a variety of channels, but that is, by nature, completely engaging. And, because consumers created the spots, Pepsi Max and Doritos saved a boat load since they didn’t have to pay a mediocre agency to produce the creative… AND they got better end products!
- Mini. The “Cram it In” commercial was hilarious because of its double entendre, but it was also very purposeful in its mission to show that the notoriously teeny car has more storage room than you’d think.
- Volkswagon. Loved the kid Vader. Absolutely hysterical. Sure, the commercial didn’t really showcase anything about the product itself other than the remote start… but it implies that “the force” lies within the Volkswagon brand. And judging by the Twitterverse and Facebook feeds today, the force was strong with this ad last night.
- Bridgestone. I enjoyed both the “beaver carma” and the “reply all” spots because they were amusing, relate-able (we’ve all had that “oh shit!” moment when accidentally sending an email to the wrong person(s) or when having to suddenly stop our cars) and the product was still relevant within the creative.
- Motorola XOOM. Excellent creative here, with the all-white Apple mindless masses and the reference to “1984.” It didn’t showcase much about what the XOOM can do, but it was sufficient to show that this tablet goes against the technological grain and operates on the Android OS. Not sure that this will make a dent in iPad sales, but it was a spot very well done.
So what did you think? What were the big hits and misses in your book? (Watch all of the commercials on FoxSports.com)
And, more importantly, who else was mildly petrified of Fergie singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine?”