Superbowl XLV: Battle of the Brands

Battle of the BrandsEach year, second only to football talk, the banter and debate over the commercials dominates the day after the Superbowl. While there has been some integration of social media in ad spots in years past, 2011 showcased a real shift in the adoption of full social media adoption by many big brands.

The conversation about the commercials has gone on for decades, and in the recent past, as with everything else in our rapidly advancing world, it has shifted to online venues, specifically social networking platforms. Twitter is probably the hotbed of Superbowl ad talk and this year there was even a somewhat “formalized” discussion going on. Advertising agency, Mullen and social media monitoring software provider Radian6 sponsored “Brand Bowl 2011“, a Twitter-based public gauge of the Superbowl ads. The coined the hasthtag #brandbowl and monitored it, as well as many other key words to track total buzz and positive versus negative sentiment.

So, the buzz about the Superbowl commercials has certainly shifted from the water cooler to the internet, mainly social media platforms, and big brands have noticed. The average cost of a 30-second Superbowl spot is about $3 Million, so brands need to make it count. Many of the biggest brands buying the coveted ad spots integrated social media into their commercials, driving consumers to their own venues to have the conversation about their brand. They are finally getting it. The conversation is going on regardless of your brand’s involvement. Why not provide people with the venue to do it. Then you can more easily monitor the conversation, more easily engage in the conversation, and hopefully even control the conversation.

Perennial Superbowl spenders, Pepsi had some well received spots pushing Pepsi Max, and the commercials included their Facebook Page’s URL and no mention of their website. Budweiser and many of the other big brands followed suit and included the web address to their Facebook Pages and not their website.

On Twitter, many brands, including Chevrolet, paid for “Promoted Tweets”. They knew the conversation was happening on Twitter. What better way to get their brand and their message in front of all the eyes that were taking part in the conversation. Audi even included their own hashtag in their ad to encourage Twitter conversation about their commercial and their brand. It certainly also gave them the ability to track and monitor the conversation and sentiment about the ad more easily.

Volkswagen pioneered an interesting and ingenious concept for the plan behind their Superbowl commercial. They leaked a 60-second spot on the internet prior to the ads actual premier during the game. This got the buzz going even before the ad aired during the Superbowl. It also gave them a head start in monitoring the conversation and sentiment about their spot. When the ad finally aired, many were surprised to see a 30-second cut of the commercial, as opposed to the 60-second spot found online. This was a smart use of marketing dollars. The buzz was started online with the 60-second spot and they then could really accomplish their goals with the 30-second spot during the big game. This probably saved them several million dollars.

Many ads were available instantly after they aired on TV, on YouTube. YouTube provided a platform not only for consumers to view the ads but then have the conversation and leave feedback without having to go somewhere else. This also encouraged users to share ads via their own social networks.

Perhaps nowhere was the adoption of social media into the mainstream more evident than in the Chevy Cruze commercial. The ad touted the car’s on-board internet capabilities, noting the ability to check and post real-time status updates to Facebook. Not only was this ad an example of social media’s integration to mainstream media, but also to the public’s infatuation with social media in general and turned into some free publicity for Facebook, the world’s largest social network.

Superbowl XLV was filled with the usual balance of ad types. There were funny ads, interesting ads, thought-provoking ads and head-scratching ads. They debate will go on for days about the good versus bad and it will happen online much more than in years past. Big brands are finally starting to understand and attempt to harness the incredible power of social media for the advancement of their brand. Social media is a platform for brands to get consumer feedback, monitor conversation and sentiment, engage in customer service and ultimately “pointcast” their message to an active and engaged audience. Now is the time for big brands to hop on board or miss the boat all together. If they are not already present and active in the social world the time is running out. Their customers are there. Their competitors are there. If they are not there, they ought to be.


About Justin Leshynski

Co-Founder & VP of Operations at @davantidigital | Social Media Evangelist | Self-Proclaimed Raconteur | Knowledge-Seeker | Bullet-Dodger | The Kid Your Mother Warned You About
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