I admit that as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings I wasn’t very excited about the Super Bowl game this year. However, as a fan of social media marketing, I was excited about the commercials. As the game started, I decided to stay away from the social media sites, and instead started a spreadsheet so I could take notes as I watched the commercials.
What I Expected
Prior to the game, I was anticipating the Super Bowl ads to be heavy on hashtags and promotion of the Twitter and Facebook pages of the advertisers. Articles like this one on CanadianBusiness.com – Super Bowl advertising will be heavy on hashtags – had me giddy with excitement prior to the appearance of the first ad.
Unfortunately, although I was happy with the outcome of the game, I was disappointed with the poor implementation of social in the ads.
By my count, I saw 89 ads between the start and finish of the game, and only six of them included hashtags. Things got off to a good start, as the first two ads from Bud Light Platinum and Audi both included hashtags (#MakeItPlatinum and #SoLongVampires).
The next few ads didn’t include any hashtags or any mentions of Facebook or Twitter, but all hope was not lost. Through the first eight ads, I saw four hashtags, including a second use of #MakeItPlatinum for Bud Light Platinum, and #BetterWay in the Best Buy ad. Up to that point, there still wasn’t any inclusion of a Facebook or Twitter logo or URL, but I was happy with the fact that 50% of the ads had hashtags.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. After getting off to a quick start, I didn’t see any more hashtags until #WhatWorks was incorporated into ad #20 from GE, and the first mention of a Facebook page came at the end of ad #24 for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – http://facebook.com/TheLoraxMovie. The sixth and final hashtag was #BeckhamForHM, which was shown in the 27th ad for H&M’s Beckham Bodywear.
By my final count, there were 89 ads shown, and only 14 of them included social media elements – a disappointing 15%.
The surprise of the Super Bowl commercials for me was the incorporation of the mobile music-tagging app Shazam. I saw the Shazam logo in six different ads. The intent was for viewers to fire up the Shazam app on their mobile phones in order to recognize the audio in the ad, which took them to giveaways and other additional content.
Unfortunately, there were no clear instructions for viewers, and with many ads running only 30 seconds, I’m not sure how it was possible to see the logo, pull our your mobile phone, start the app, and tag the audio in time to get the link. I’m sure it worked for those who were prepared, but I wasn’t, so I was not able to test it.
What Does it Mean?
How can you use this information? I think the lesson learned is that most of the Super Bowl advertisers failed to take advantage of a huge opportunity. By excluding hashtags from their ads, they:
- didn’t account for the desire of social media savvy viewers to discuss their ads with the convenience of a hashtag, which would have allowed them to easily view all of the tweets from other viewers about the ads
- made it more difficult to track the mentions of their ads for reporting out to their stakeholders
Of course, social media savvy viewers are also very crafty. Following the M&Ms ad, twitter users took it upon themselves to create a hashtag to include in their discussion of the ad. Check out #SoItsThatKindOfParty to see what they’ve been saying. In this case, it worked out for M&Ms, but it could have been a disaster if users were offended by the ad and started tweeting something like #NakedCandyFail.
According to my calculations, almost 60% of the commercials included a link to the company website or a microsite. I understand the desire for traffic to your company’s website, but this is 2012, and people want to talk about your ad and your product during and following the big game. I’m very surprised that there were only 8 ads that displayed a Facebook and/or Twitter URL or logo, encouraging viewers to engage with the brand and continue the conversation online.
Regarding Shazam, although it was a good idea, it’s important to educate the viewers regarding the fact that the Shazam logo is a call-to-action. This may have been done in the days and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but if so, it wasn’t done well, because I had no idea it was even happening until after the game when I saw tweets about it.
What do you think?
Did the Super Bowl advertisers miss a huge opportunity to engage with their viewers? Please discuss in the comments below.
Image by stephen_d_luke