DM CONFIDENTIAL – While it might seem anachronistic to spend millions of dollars on 30 seconds of air time, and while it might seem completely illogical to do so in this internet era, the big investments and big bucks continue. We’re talking about the Super Bowl of course, and whether illogical or irrational on the advertiser’s end, their commercials provide more than just entertainment value (which is often high). The ads are a gateway into how the world of advertising is thinking and what influences those who spend their time trying to influence. The average person might not notice or care. They might notice, but not care. They might just do without noticing. Whether you cared or noticed, here are some of the things that we noticed and about which we cared.
The Twitter Bowl?
It might be too soon to call this Super Bowl the Twitter Bowl, but this show proved the advertising media’s love for Twitter. Some of the top brands included hashtags prominently in their ads, an impressive fact given that Twitter penetration, especially active user penetration is less than 20% of internet users. You wouldn’t guess the company from the tags which included: #Makeitplatinum, #Solongvampires, #Betterway, #Whatworks.
Here’s a screenshot of the initial dialog around Audi’s #solongvampires:
Interestingly, Cadillac benefited from Audi’s multi-million-dollar ad, as they are the first result. You might have expected that not to be the case. An Audi tweet on their own topic does appear above the fold. Clicking on it shows the reason and interest behind the use of Twitter.
In the above, we see Audi’s tweet in advance of their ad. They showed off their social media prowess by not just tweeting but attaching a picture (which they took with Instagram). What’s important are the “Retweets” and “Favorites.” All of them are impressions that they didn’t have to pay for, that viral buzz which now has social platforms to help make it easier than anytime before.
When we think back to some of the more memorable commercials, or at least those that stuck in our memory, we think back to one done by Mitsubishi, where the commercial ended in a cliffhanger and drove people online for the finale. As we see from the above, online is still a big piece, but it’s more driving or attempting to drive social interaction. This year’s commercials still had a few URLs, but it feels almost as though they couldn’t decide. For some who still marketed the URLs, it made sense, e.g., Ford’s Letsdothis.com. The functionality of Facebook or existing platforms doesn’t allow for the deep content experience. The site is meant for consumption not conversation. Two other million dollar URLs – Pepsi’s Pepsisoundoff.com – an unmitigated disaster – and the Kauffman Foundation’s unexpected entry – Willitbeyou.com.
Some commercials are simply comforting. In a time of change, it’s nice to see some consistencies, those who know what they stand for and what they like to represent their brand. To that end, we thank Cars.com’s confidence, the big teases of GoDaddy, and the chimps who are still more interesting than most of our co-workers from Careerbuilder. Alas, we did not get to see Groupon. At least we did get to see Doritos, and they once again dominated the creativity and humor department. Like a scrappy startup, they show that being better is better. For the second year in a row, Chrysler made everyone pause with their emotionally driven monologue delivered by Clint Eastwood who upped the intensity ante of Eminem’s role last year.
An Imperfect, Technology-Filled, Something -Is-Happening Show
Of all the technologies featured, one did not play a starring a role — Facebook. The commercial for the near-distant-future Avengers movie was one of the few that used Facebook, driving people to their page to see an extended version of the trailer. The NFL was old-school, trying to get people to text, and several tried to leverage Shazam. We say try, because unlike text, a hashtag or a URL, using Shazam means having to open it and to be able to capture enough sound (without too much other noise) before the end of the commercial. The app was smartly integrated with the halftime show — unfortunately, the backend did not execute on what the front end promised (a free download).
All in all with this show, something fundamentally changed — a turning point but to what is not as clear. All we know is that for the first time ever, Coke missed the boat, and for us, that is almost all the proof we need to realize that things will never be the same.
For all commercials, see YouTube’s AdBlitz.