Dave Folkens

Social Media Super Bowl – Overhyped & Underperformed

Super Bowl Ads, Social Media, Online Marketing, YouTube, TwitterAt a reported $3 million per 30 second spot, Super Bowl advertising is big business. For a multimillion dollar investment, brands should be maximizing every opportunity to reach potential customers. Which advertisers took advantage of a customer base actively engaged in the big game to extend the conversation? Not too many.

In the much-hyped ads airing during the Super Bowl, big brands primarily went with small printed web addresses at the end of the commercials as a next step for viewers. They lacked direct calls to action and didn’t leverage the fact that many viewers are online while watching television. A well executed ad with a specific call to action to send a tweet with a particular branded tag would be a logical fit.

Rather than a passive mention of a Facebook fan page, companies should consider how a strategic  promotion driving viewers to just released content might play. Social media marketing is an opportunity to identify and program directly to customer needs. More can be done with social media and over time more brands will become increasingly creative with integration in the ads. However, some brands are at least working to bring social marketing into the fold.

Audi made a direct Twitter reference in its ‘Release the Hounds’ ad featuring the hashtag #ProgressIs to enter a contest to win “Old Luxury” prizes and support charity. Users submit what progress is to them and Audi will share the top entries. It’s a smart start but would have been stronger with greater prominence or context versus a passing glance.

Another luxury brand decided to advertise for the first time at the big game with Mercedes jumping in following a creative “Tweet Race” contest fueled by social media. The campaign utilized both Twitter and Facebook to support celebrity led teams on a race to the Super Bowl. The campaign allowed Mercedes to get more than just an ad out of its marketing dollars but greater social marketing could have helped the ad.

The big hit in terms of a memorable ad was Volkswagen. Blending humor, creativity and a good use of YouTube to promo an ad titled ‘The Force’, the company is now sitting on a hit. VW teased the ad in advance of the Super Bowl, showing just enough to pique curiosity and asked for feedback on Facebook and Twitter.  Over 16 million views later, Darth Vader and Volkswagen will forever be linked.

Overall, there were some interesting ads but far too many brands that made no real attempt to connect campaigns to any call to action. Gaining greater marketing value by campaigns leading up to the Super Bowl ads is a good start but advertisers need to establish a clear follow-up social media marketing strategy to continue the momentum online after the game is over.

From a marketing perspective, what were your favorites? Hits? Misses? And do you believe we will see better execution by the time Super Bowl 46 rolls around?

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  1. As a first effort, we couldn’t have expected major brands with tons of money riding on their ads to step wholeheartedly into the social media foray. This reluctance is part of the “old school” marketing camp, but will quickly fade as more and more businesses find success with mixing traditional and online marketing.

    For those of us “already in the fold,” it can be frustrating to see such hesitation, but patience and education on our part will be the key to enlightening companies on how important social media is in the future of advertising.

    • Measuring the success of social media campaigns and providing real ROI on social marketing will go a long way with the big brands. Social media outcomes need to be tracked and noted in terms of conversions, sales, and bottom-line metrics versus “likes” to secure significant investment.

  2. I did notice how most commercials ended with them posting their facebook page instead of corporate web address. Not exactly “engaging” but an interesting change from the norm, and a step in the right direction

  3. Dave, I think you’re fast becoming one of my favorite writers on TR, though it will take some doing to unsettle Lee from that top spot. 🙂

    I didn’t watch the Super Bowl and have seen most of the ads by now. What I still don’t get is why companies will spend so much money on the ads – and that’s just to buy a spot, not even counting the production expenses – without a strategy in place.

    There was an interesting article that Purdue released a couple of weeks ago: https://www.purduealumni.org/events/news/consumer-psychologist-super-bowl-ads-might-not-be-worth-the-cost/ that basically makes your point – there’s no evidence that the ads themselves have any impact on long-term consumer behavior, and the best chance that companies have of motivating this behavior is to ensure that the ads are part of a comprehensive strategy that includes social media as well as other advertising and promotions.

    It seems ironic that the C-suite wants ROI, but when it comes to the Super Bowl, they seem to forget all about that.

    • Thanks Shonali. It seems that the cuteness factor really drives many of the Super Bowl ads with companies trying to be the funniest or just different. But several million dollars focused on two days of chatter around the water cooler seems like a high price without a broader strategy to drive behavioral change.

  4. Its an interesting thing that companies and brands did not step it up to make an impact during the Super Bowl. It seems to be that simply advertising and blowing a crazy amount of money on several moments that are supposed to capture, engage and ultimately lead to the consumers wanting to learn more about the product, should do just that, not simply flash a “regular commercial”. It should be mind blowing. I know of many people who are specifically watching those commercials hoping some incentive worth their while will come along, but this year that did not happen. Well, there is always next year, or so they say.

    • Exactly Liz,
      More time will definitely help. I think there is real opportunity for the first company that does something amazing to be remembered for a long time. Will have to see what happens down the road.

      • Hey Dave, thanks for the comment! I just think that companies should always strive to make a good or lasting impression on their audience, when there is a rare opportunity that can assemble the majority of your target audience into their living rooms with friends/family/neighbors etc, across the country at the same time, blowing that chance on a mediocre commercial is just financially irresponsible. cheerio, liz

  5. Maybe the companies that advertised are starting to realize that a lot of people are afraid to interact with them via channels like Facebook due to privacy concerns.

  6. Avatar Claudia Hiatt says

    One super successful campaign becomes the standard that other companies attempt to achieve. The super bowl commercial has become a standard and successful companies are afraid that if they don’t participate they won’t be successful.

    Now that our expectations are so high and there is so much hype about the Super Bowl ads, that is almost impossible to run an effective campaign in that slot.

    These ads are entertaining, but they barely give brand awareness and are little more than entertainment. I don’t know anything more about Audi, VW or Mercedes because of these ads and there is no call to action.

    These are more like mini-movies than ads.

    • I wonder which company will be the first to set the news standard of strategic social media marketing integration?

      You make a great point on expectations. It really is hard to impress anymore as we’ve collectively seen so many high profile ads over the years.

  7. its king of unbelievable the amount companies spend for a few seconds. maybe save a little and have 10x advertising throughout the year 

  8. That was very clever….VW has always had a recent memory of good
    advertisement, remember the Vader kid with the remote start? How ’bout
    the Das Auto and pimp your ride spots?