Thursday, January 30, 2014

Which Brands Will Make Their Super Bowl Advertising Slot Pay Off?


Because the Super Bowl is being played this Sunday, I was going to put together a "Throwback Thursday" post of some of my favorite ads from years past that were originally broadcast during one of the football games. However, when I started browsing through commercials on +YouTube I saw just how bad and unmemorable most of them really are.

Brands spend quite a bit of money on these ads due to the sheer size of the audience they know they will be in front of. But, size isn't everything. Advertising should always be about generating results. A brief laugh does not count. And, as digital marketing offers more opportunity to reach an increasingly specific audience with a relevant message, it seems these mass marketing opportunities are less and less important.

It's true that Super Bowl ads still get a great amount of press after (and these days before) the big game though. So, I wouldn't say they are worthless. If creating awareness is your goal, a Super Bowl ad could definitely do the trick. But, that's quite the price tag for awareness alone. I'd want to do something with that awareness, and know that it worked. Below are some of the biggest challenges faced by Super Bowl advertisers, and how to overcome them to make a commercial pay off.

The Challenges 

  • No One is in "Buy Mode" - People are in front of a TV (most away from home) to watch the game with their friends and family. They're not looking to make a purchase.
  • There's A Lot of Noise - I mean this both figuratively and literally. People's attention is pulled in a lot of directions during game breaks. Will your message stand out and be heard?
  • Results Are Difficult to Measure - So, your commercial is talked about on the morning news the next day. How much of a spike in sales did you have as a result of the multi-million dollar ad? It's okay if sales aren't your goal. But, what is? How is it measured? 

The Solutions

  • Go Beyond The Commercial Itself - With all of the tools at our disposal, it's important not to begin and end with the commercial. Offer a teaser online ahead of game night, document the process to use as content, involve your social media fans by starting discussion, and make the idea bigger than a cheap laugh. Be creative to make the moment stretch. Get others with a voice involved in the pitch too. More on this in a minute.
  • Introduce Something New - Don't be boring. Telling viewers what they already know will get you nowhere, even if a dancing bear or talking baby tells them. Showing viewers something brand new will help get them talking about your offering rather than just the ad. How many times have you heard people talking about "the one where those ducks all jumped in that car and went through the drive-thru at that restaurant", or something? Not good.    
  • Ask For Something - Try to get viewers to perform an action. A simple action. They are busy watching the biggest sporting event of the year. But, get them to do something to remember you the next day, and interact in the future. Ask the viewer to download an app . Get them to tweet the answer to a question by the end of halftime to win a free one of whatever you sell. Have those interested text "Sign Me Up" to a number to be the first to know when your product is released. There are all kinds of possibilities. But, ask for it. And, measure the response.   

The Right Idea

This is an example of what I mean by going beyond the commercial. Beats Music has a new app that they want people to download. They enlisted Ellen DeGeneres to be in the commercial. But, they didn't have her stop at being the spokesperson in the ad. Ellen introduced the Super Bowl ad exclusively on her TV talk show ahead of the game, explained the app and AT&T plan that goes with it in more words than you can put in a 30 second commercial, and then topped it off by giving her entire audience an +LG Electronics phone to get started. Not bad, eh? Check out the full segment below, and enjoy the Super Bowl (and ads) this Sunday.