Super Bowl ads go social to live beyond game

Marketers are leveraging social content to make their Super Bowl ads more interactive as they look to gain online buzz prior to the game and beyond to justify rising TV costs.

PepsiSuperBowl-Logo-2013
Super Bowl brands are using social content to extend their adverts beyond the game to maximize their TV spend.

Brands are paying a record $4m (£2.5m) to get their 30-second spots in front of the 111million viewers expected to tune into the game this weekend (3 February). The massive, real-time audience gives advertisers an unparalleled opportunity to reach a broad range of the US population simultaneously, a rare opportunity in the increasingly fragmented media space.

Furthermore, a larger proportion of that audience will tune in for the high-profile ads – in some cases as much as for the game itself. It subsequently allows brands to create a whole campaign around the 30-second spot through social networks and second-screen experiences.

Pepsi is putting viewers at the heart of its game-day showpiece with what it claims will be the first crowd-sourced Super Bowl half-time show. The soft drinks brand will create an on-air video from thousands of photos submitted with the hashtag #Pepsihalftime to air ahead of brand ambassador Beyonce’s half-time performance in New Orleans.

Brands are no longer paying for a TV spot anymore. They are paying for the chance to leverage the free publicity they have built up in the weeks prior to the game and get people more involved with their brands. Eighty-six per cent of viewers will share Super Bowl ads via Facebook and half of Americans will watch the commercials more than once, according to US advertising agency Venables Bell & Partners. Marketers are seizing on the opportunity to take the conversations about their adverts online and continue with a wider brand experience.

Coca-Cola is leading the charge this year with its ‘The Chase’ spot that extends the campaign both prior to the game with teasers, during the game with competitions and after the game with a follow-up push where viewers can choose an ending. Crowdsourcing has grown considerably over the last 12 months and several Super Bowl advertisers are increasing their participation with fans to optimise their strategies. From Audi’s ‘choose-an-ending’ ad to Toyota using fan photos in its ‘Wish Granted’ ad, brands are turning to the crowd to be as relevant as possible.

Not all advertisers have bought into this theory of starting the Super Bowl conversation early. Chrysler, which won critical acclaim last year for its ‘It’s Halftime America’ ad featuring Clint Eastwood, is not releasing any information about the follow-up in a bid to boost buzz around the ad going into the game. However, Nielsen data from 2012 reveals that releasing ads early did not hurt their impact. The best-remembered TV spot during last year’s game, according to the data firm was Doritos ‘Sling Baby’, which was available online weeks before.

The need to be relevant in an increasingly competitive market has led to marketers being more controversial in their adverts than previous years. Controversy has already forced Taco Bell to pull one of its TV ads after declaring “people kind of hate you” if you turn up to a Super Bowl party with vegetables as your contribution to the food buffet. Meanwhile, fellow Super Bowl brand Sodastream has been forced to re-edit its advert because it takes a swipe at rival soft drink firms.

To see Marketing Week’s pick of the best Super Bowl ads this year click here.

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