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Super Bowl: Trademarks Game Played in Social Media
The Super Bowl is about more than two opponents squaring off: in the advertising space companies are also confronting one another, trying to captivate an ever-growing audience segment that is watching while simultaneously interacting on social networks, and consequently moving millions of brand mentions online and creating trends. Winning that contest is the truly the Big Game for online marketing.
The halftime advertising of the Super Bowl may last up to an hour. But those minutes are increased exponentially for the brands involved, who began playing their game long before the Super Bowl Sunday. Their moment in the spotlight takes place during the broadcast, and if they did things right and had a bit of luck on their side, they will continue to reap its rewards during the post-party days. If they did things even better, it is quite possible that the impact of their advertising will linger in everyone’s memory for a very long time afterwards.
The hope is that those few seconds of airtime will be multiplied on social networks, making the brand echo among millions of users. The $4.5 million that the television time can cost, not including the costs of development and production, is the cost of doing business in an approach that seeks to reach and impact not just the viewers during the airing of any given ad, but to grab the attention of those seeking something more than just the punchline of the commercial. They’re try to capture the attention of viewers looking for a trigger for interaction, to foster opinion and discussion; these are the people who are setting trends and consumption patterns today.
Consumers have changed. Or more accurately, a new demographic of adult consumers has started taking command of brand interaction. They are what analysts are calling Generation C, the people who are always connected to social networks on their tablets or smartphones, always interacting, providing opinion, commenting, debating and expressing approval… or disapproval .
Today, consumers look forward to the ads, and they’re ready to comment on and discuss them rather than just watch them. A survey conducted by the market research firm Lab42 showed that 39% of respondents were more into the advertisements than in the game.
While the size of the Super Bowl viewing audience is massive (100 million people in the U.S. alone), it’s growing modestly, while its impact on social networks is doubling year after year, so online marketing is becoming key, more than ever, for any brand. One example of the way companies have responded is with the increasing inclusion of Twitter hashtags as a strategy for interacting with consumers. In 2012, only 10% (6 of 62) of the commercials that aired during the Super Bowl included a hashtag. In 2013, the number rose to 41% (26 of 62), according to an analysis of Kantar Media. Those hashtags generated 300,000 tweets on game day (an average of 11,500 per ad), according to the same study, which also reports that in 2013, 24.1 million messages about the game and halftime show were written.
According to Marketing Land, the percentage of brands using hashtags in 2014 climbed to 57% (31 of 54 commercial). Among those, several integrated them into their current campaign (other than just putting only the name of the brand or product). Those brands were: Coca-Cola with #AmericaIsBeautiful, Axe with #KissForPeace, Heinz: #ifyourehappy and H&M’s: # covered, #uncovered, #BeckhamforHM
The challenge for companies is to achieve a connection that resonates long after the commercial has aired. Advertising is no longer simply feeding a message to a passive viewer. With all the risks involved, a campain that results in millions of “dislikes” can be harmful – even fatal – to a brand. In order to prevent a massive failure, advertisers test their ads on the network before the event takes place. Case in point: this year, Soda Stream decided to cancel a commercial starring Scarlett Johansson because the response received in social networks was far from what was expected, beyond Fox chain censorship. But this also works in the opposite direction; the ad’s censorship probably viralized it, giving it more attention than it would have generated as one ad among many others during the game.
Nevertheless, and even though the purpose was to test the commercials, the social network sacked the TV broadcast. And so the commercials will not be brand new for a vast majority of the audience, but they will be an excuse to continue or renew the discussion.
For some brands, advertising for the Big Game begins several months before the event, with contests and home video uploads, like Pizza Hut did in 2013, or like Doritos has been doing in recent seasons, boosting not only the interaction with consumers but also fostering their creativity and thus their personal connection to the brand by encouraging followers to produce 30-second commercials to be voted on by the online population.
Improvisation also plays its part: the blackout during the Super Bowl 2013 presented the most resounding proof of the impact that social networks have on this event. It generated a rapid response by the creative teams of the brands that responded in real time with ad-hoc proposals. The Oreo cookies with a photo taken in twilight and the phrase “You can still dunk in the dark” took the crown: that announcement was forwarded more than 10,000 times on Twitter, had 18 thousand clicks of approval on Facebook and was shared by 5,000 users. Another network even took advantage of the situation; PBS quickly responded with a Twitter invite to frustrated Super Bowl viewers, letting them know they could switch to the award-winning British series Downton Abbey.
But even with these eye-opening numbers, more in-depth data on the impact generated by television on social networks was needed. This has led Nielsen, the leading consulting company in measurements, to enter into an agreement with Twitter to create the “Twitter TV Nielsen Rating”, a system that will measure the impact televised content has in that network, allowing for the development of applications that will enable companies to integrate advertising campaigns in real time by associating what is taking place on TV with what is simultaneously being said on Twitter. Thus, the impact of campaigns can be enhanced by segmenting ads. With more than one ad executive is eager to come up with successful results, this is the next Super Bowl for brand marketing.