If you’re anything like me, you’re also gearing up for all things football this weekend (Go Patriots!). Never mind the fact that my favorite team is playing – I love the Super Bowl every year, because it’s always a one-stop shop for all things entertainment and there is usually some high-quality game food involved. And, while the football game DOES serve as the main attraction for most football fans, it’s also become the biggest event for marketers, with this year’s event estimated to draw over 111 million viewers. For four to five straight hours, it’s almost difficult to squeeze in a bathroom break between the game, commercials, halftime shows and other goings-on without worrying you’re going to miss something good! I missed the Betty White ad for Snickers in 2010 and have to say, to this day, it’s still a low point.
While this year’s Super Bowl ads are already sounding and in some cases, looking (more on that in a bit) promising, you may notice some changes in several commercials, as advertisers begin to look at new ways to create buzz and engage their audiences that are also sharing content via social media channels while watching the big game. According to research firm Nielsen, viewers are doing just that. A recent Nielsen statistic reveals that a staggering two-thirds of smart phone and tablet owners actively post on social media sites such as Twitter or text their friends while watching TV. Also referred to as the “second screen,” more advertisers will be working this strategy into their commercials and marketing efforts to encourage sharing and reactions with friends through social media, but also to stand out from the competition.
No doubt, you may have already noticed some of these changes, with commercials – which in the past have been kept under strict lock and key until game day – being released in advance of Super Bowl Sunday. While many people are disappointed in the fact that these ads are already out, stripping away the element of surprise from what has always been a big highlight of the Super Bowl, marketers are opting to get an edge on the competition to attract attention to generate the most buzz around the water cooler in the days leading up to AND after the game. For example, Honda released its game day commercial for the CR-V earlier this week, which – if you haven’t already seen it – is a parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it’s already gone viral, a week in advance of the Super Bowl. As of this writing, the official YouTube video has already generated more the 8.5 million hits. Not a bad way to kick off the big ad game (pun intended).
On the flip side of the coin, this also has several industry experts speculating the death of the Super Bowl ad as we’ve all grown to know and love it. In his January 30 article “The Beginning of the End of The Super Bowl Ad?,” Forbes contributor David Their speculates while social media is still largely plays second fiddle to TV ads, if companies like Honda, H&M and Acura can release YouTube ads that generate millions of views a full week before the Super Bowl – marketers may realize that the Internet alone can yield just as big of an audience as the Super Bowl.
Other brands are taking an integrated first and second screen approach by incorporating multiple mediums into their Super Bowl ad campaigns. Using the combination of TV ads during the Super Bowl and presence on social media channels, Coke recently revealed their interactive plans that their iconic polar bears will grace both the first and second screens this Sunday. According to Laura Petrecca at USA Today, the computer-animated bears will appear on a site hosted through Facebook – CokePolarBowl.com – which will feature a live video stream of the bears’ real-time reactions to the game’s action – including bad calls, and even ads. Coke is also taking to Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites to ensure that they are everywhere their consumers are.
Another example – GoDaddy.com, another long-standing Super Bowl advertiser and purveyor of Internet domain names, which you may also know by their ever-popular and risqué GoDaddy girl commercials, will incorporate QR codes into their TV ads that viewers can scan by putting their smart phones up to the TV – a first for a Super Bowl ad.
I, for one, am looking forward to EVERYTHING about the big game on Sunday – especially for rooting for my New England Patriots – and I will be Tweeting throughout the game about my favorite commercials, game plays and a whole host of other things (follow me at @AlisonTBoston). Will you have your mobile device in hand? Do you think that social media tactics from marketers will work? Do you hate that Super Bowl commercials have been released ahead of the game? Let us know in the comments below!