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February 05, 2008

Super Bowl Ads Go Online... or Do They?

David Rogers
Director, Center on Global Brand Leadership
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Many in my family tuned in to the Super Bowl on Sunday to watch football. But I fall into the reported 36 percent of Super Bowl fans who tune in each year primarily to watch the advertisements.

This year, advertisers paid $2.7 million for each 30-second slice of air time, but you didn’t have to turn on your TV for a minute to catch them. YouTube, AOL and MySpace provided online sites where you could watch the entire roster of ads and vote on them. I’m sure Professor Bernd Schmitt wasn’t the only marketing guru to cancel his annual Super Bowl party this year as a result (Schmitt went to a classical music concert and caught the ads online, like me).

But did the Super Bowl ads really make the transition online — to the new world of networking sites, user content and interactive media? Leading up to the game, there was much buzz about how advertisers were “exploring new ways to bring their ads online. . . to make [their] steep investment go further.” (WSJ)

But almost without exception, the advertisers failed to use their TV ad as a jumping-off point for an online experience — one that could be more interactive, engaging and potentially sales-driving. (A notable exception was the super tacky GoDaddy.com, which created a “censored ad”that you had to go to its site to watch.) Even user-generated ads were on the decline, with a single Doritos spot.

Instead, the ad agencies fell back on their old habits of telling 30-second “stories” about a brand, hoping that a tale of goofy cavemen, noble clydesdales or aphrodisiac peanuts would make you think their brand was “funny,” “inspiring”or “irresistible.”

When I spoke last week to advertising legend Bob Greenberg, CEO of R/GA, he wondered whether there was still much to be gained in broadcasting such multimillion-dollar “metaphors” when consumers have shifted to a more interactive media experience.

We’ll continue the discussion this week as part of the BRITE ’08 conference and CMO summit on branding, innovation and technology at Columbia. Bob and other marketing leaders from G.E., SAP, Fox and more will be discussing what the new models are for building brands in an age of interactive media.

For now, I’d give the Super Bowl ad lineup a B+ on creativity, and a D- on catching the new media paradigm.

Comments

by Christian | February 05, 2008 at 5:58 PM

Some of the super bowl ads are getting good online exposure, but others aren't. The Pepsi ad with Justin Timberlake has over 1 million views on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dprQVQ3wOU While Pepsi probably paid quite a bit for Justin and for the ad, it seems to be paying off. Over a million voluntary viewers isn't bad. Advertisers have to keep in mind that online audiences have different tastes and viewing habits than tv viewers. It seems Pepsi found the right combination of star power, humorous plot, and wacky events to pull of a hit.

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