TV's Greatest Night of Ads Takes a (Weak) Stab at Getting Social
This guest article was written by Dave McMullen, partner and lead strategist at redpepper integrated agency.
The $3.5 million Super Bowl ads have all come and gone, and the conversations - supercharged by social media - are in full swing. Or are they? To get true bang for your bucks in the Big Game these days, brands should do more than entertain; they should get people talking and move them to action.
The days when being voted one of the top commercials in the "Ad Bowl" equaled success are ending. Today, ads are expected to be revenue generators - or at least engage viewers and motivate them to DO something. So, were there any big winners this year? I suppose that depends on how you measure success.
Doritos might take the gold medal for its showcase of user-generated content in the "Crash the Super Bowl" campaign. By collecting fan-created commercials and asking the rest of us to view and vote on the best for a chance to win prizes, Doritos was able to add a stickiness to their campaign where most ads fell short. In spite of everything we're learning about activation and social media, there seems tobe a lag among the big players with regard to real engagement. Unfortunately, even Doritos fumbled an opportunity to bring their fans into the game with two-way social media conversations. Disappointingly, they didn't even use Facebook to engage with their fans during the game - posting once before the game to watch for their ads and prepare to be "mind blown" and once after the game with a link to vote for their ad over at the USA Today site. Their lack of follow-through on obvious social opportunities is what really blows my mind.
Much to my surprise the ads during the game turned out to be aimed at 30 seconds of entertainment and winning the #adbowl, rather than winning a connection with consumers. A few brands like Chevy and Coke at least implemented some new technology and gave us an interesting way to play along with their ads. But is watching bears watching what I'm watching really engagement?
A strategy that did go to the next level was the use of entertaining content across multiple channels. That's good progress. Several of the ads were already sitting in social sites like Facebook and YouTube and what seemed like an endless supply of micro sites with buttons to make viewing and sharing easy, but did they inspire sharing? USA Today's Ad Meter and it's "Make it social" button under the staged video made it painfully obvious what their objective was. The habit of ending your spots with "go to ourwebsite.com" is still alive and well, but this year several brands attempted to help the conversation along by adding a twitter hashtag (#makeitplatnum and #beckhamforhim) that must have seemed foreign to 95% of the audience. But at least they tried to push the conversation out beyond the living room and helped people find and join trending conversations.
Brands are trying to integrate social media into their ads, but too many of them are dropping the ball when it comes to actually BEING social. While a lot of brands only made one post before the game to "watch for their ad" and one post afterwards linking to a site to "vote for their ad", Beckham For Him posted a link on Facebook to their ad during the game that has garnered more than 6,000 "likes" and more than 700 shares. And while Honda's Ferris Bueller reinvention, "Matthew's Day Off", has received more than 12 million YouTube views, the brand has only made two wall posts on Facebook referencing the ad - one before the game and one after - generating a little over 600 likes and no shares. A lot of awareness, but not much two-way conversation there.
On the other hand, VW's "Dog Strikes Back" ad only has five million YouTube views (still not too shabby), but their post about the ad scored more than 2,700 "likes" and nearly 600 shares. Plus their super-team of engaged fans were adding their own posts about the ads and how much they love their VW on the company's Facebook wall - and VW was on their game, actively responding to their fans' comments and posts. That's the way to be social and build relationships with your fans.
Almost all of the 2012 Super Bowl ads were well produced, most were available on multiple platforms, and many encouraged "sharing". The big question now is, "share what?" We can expect the online versions of this year's spots to be forwarded, tweeted, liked, and shared more than ever before. But to what end? So much money for so little time. I'm going to hold out one more year for truly engaging advertising during the Super Bowl. If I don't get it, I guess I'll actually watch the game.