Why Aren't Super Bowl Ads Using Online Better?

Josh GordonWas it just me, or did the Super Bowl ads stink this year? Okay, it wasn't just me. My own opinions - and three days of "water cooler" chatter with friends in the marketing/ad business - have formed some conclusions on this year's crop of ads.
The big conclusion - these ads were out of touch. Some examples: Audi did a big movie production in tandem with the Transporter brand, Hyundai introduced a new sports car, Toyota featured the Venza (not the consumer-friendly, in-demand Prius), Career Builder’s ads were funny (unless you’re one of the 7.2% of the population that’s actually looking for work) Doritos’ ad about free snacks by throwing a snow globe at the vending machine would have been funny if Sprint didn’t use the same “shock” idea in 2006 for their anti-theft device, and Miller’s one second ad (though, this one was probably not as out of touch as it was just badly executed) – to name a few.

The out of touch ads qualify for that label for two reasons. One, the game featured a heavy slate of brand ads that don’t reflect the present-day reality of the consumer psyche. Two, they’re out of touch… points. There is virtually no connection of these ads to any other communications platform, i.e. the Internet. That’s a huge lost opportunity. You can quantify campaign success online. Why would so many companies fail to provide viewers with any good reason to interact with the brand online?

To explain the first, it’s logical to assume that content decisions on these ads were made back in July(ish) 2008, before the economy began to unravel. Rather than adjust to the new reality and redo the spots, I’m guessing that Madison Avenue didn’t want to spend the money to start over. While I admit that’s total speculation, it does reflect the reality of traditional advertising and marketing – it’s not built to adapt and react to consumer conditions that change more quickly than ever before. These campaigns could have found ways to incorporate their online presence more to engage their customers with a customized online experience.

Some research proves the point. Only two-thirds of the brands that advertised during the big game ran a companion PPC campaign – and only 95% of the advertisers actually show up in an organic search. Given that lack of sophistication in the most basic form of online marketing, I’m guessing there wasn’t a lot of onsite targeting, either.

Only 4 brands – ETrade, CareerBuilder.com, GoDaddy.com and Cash4Gold.com – actually gave the viewer a reason to visit their online presence.

Spending $3 million for 30 seconds of air time is passé… and bad strategy. Using online tools to extend the life of a campaign, and improve the relationship with a customer, ought to be a no brainer.

As for us online marketers – we’ll be in touch.

One Comment

  1. Donnell Harmon
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi my name is Donnell Harmon, I just wanted to say I agree with the points you made in this blog. I believe the superbowl ads were pretty bad in comparrison to previous years. In addition it is most likely correct to assume most of them were made before the economic crisis, and therefore are not as relevent as they used to be.

    I must say I was suprised to find out that so little companies were backing up their superbowl ads with a online presence. It seems integrating online methods into the campaign seems like a smart and cost effective idea. Especially after spending millions of dollars on a 30 second spot. I guess we can only hope that companies realize the advantages of integrating online tactics into their marketing plan by next year.


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