This isn’t a Review of Super Bowl Ads

Dave LawsonFor the past couple years, I’ve taken a Monday Morning Quarterback look at the overall acknowledgement and, for the most part, perceived missed opportunities of the brands investing in ads during the Super Bowl.
Most of my assessment was based on the comparative numbers (110mm people watching the game, 40%+ US households represented in audience, saturation of viewership with mobile subscribers, many out and about and not in front of a computer, etc) and the relative opportunity lost by brands large and small by not providing a mobile connection or conversion path for these viewers. Even the 1% (not THAT 1%) that might be interested in finding out more about the service/offering but simply can’t get to content or messaging that will keep them in the “conversion orbit”. I’m done with that. I’m not going to put my unrequited consumer love to use anymore by laying out simple ways additional value can be extracted for brands that aren’t interested in taking that first step.

Today, I will calmly but publicly shame them and move on to something more constructive. Shame on you brands (you know who you are). There, we’re done.

What I would like to focus on is an exploration of some interesting forays into the 2nd (arguably first) screen by brands that are making attempts to connect with consumers how they expect to be able to connect today. Brands and their agencies that built interactions that were entirely contextually appropriate as a recognizable example of where television, marketing, services and mobility are inevitably intersecting. Digital has brought us to the precipice and we’re seeing the early days of what is to come.

I can’t say that any executions I witnessed were an end all be all. In fact, I didn’t have one that didn’t leave me wanting or expecting more. Here is a ticklist of highlights I found noteworthy:

Superbowl viewing parties are actually social: Nearly 50% of all twitter and facebook is accessed via mobile. Many of the creative executions at least mentioned a specific hashtag (#beckhamforhm anyone?) or Facebook vanity URL. I still haven’t seen specific numbers but all reports (anecdotal and press-release related) indicate record amounts of traffic during and after the game directly related to these mentions.

Audio cues are the new black and white: Ostensibly putting QR codes in their place for this use case, Shazam and their music-sniffing mobile app came out big this year. 7 promotional offers and 10 “taggable” ads ran amongst the ads that were shown. What this means is that these 17 advertisers offered an in-app extension of their on set investments and again, they reported record traffic and engagement numbers, which is significant for such a widely distributed app across the big mobile OS platforms.

Gamification isn’t just for the football players anymore: Chevrolet and their agency made a big bet and a concerted social and ad push to capture and distract those that were planning to watch the game with their Game Time app. Weeks prior to the actual event, they were pushing an app that incorporated twitter feeds, trivia, polling, chances to win new Chevy vehicles, and more. You could win within the app but you could also win by watching their other commercials throughout the broadcast and paying close attention to license plates on cars they feature.

Forgetting your wallet is no longer an excuse to get your friends to pay your bar tab: Both CITI and Chase ran ads to promote their new peer to peer payment functionality available on your mobile device. Pay off your gardener and keep peace with your neighbors simply by tapping and swiping. If Drew Brees does it, shouldn’t you?

The NFL knows you have a phone: Prominently featured in the rotation were NFL ads with persistent SMS driven calls to action for both joining their fantasy football program and as well as voting for the MVP of the game.

Balls were dropped: As Gisele has now famously pointed out, a good throw is only as good as the receiver catching it. Perhaps due to the high amount of traffic, or, more disturbingly, poor planning of logistics and infrastructure, many of the mobile calls to action I tried to access either didn’t return a result or my results were significantly delayed. Servers were timing out, no SMS responses were received, and I very quickly moved on to more wings, beers, and other potential opportunities to engage with other brands. Aside from the 7 offers within the Shazam-able spots, the other destinations I was taken to in-app were rudimentary and frustratingly static. Most frustrating for me was the Chevy app execution. There was so much going on within it I had a very tough time getting the touch screen navigation to work, the app to open, and receiving a single solid message from Chevrolet (and I’m an “in-market” buyer, ready to make our family’s next auto purchase). While I was in the Chevy app, I was also aware that their ads were taggable with the Shazaam app, requiring an app-agility that I do not possess. If they are looking for a wider reach, maybe I can see that but the conflict created inaction on my part- too much of a good intention on that one. Notably, those brands not dropping the economic equivalent of 2 Wes Welkers to get 30 seconds of my attention but who run other SMS programs I am a participant in (and there are many), didn’t reach out to me with anything that would allow them to deliver me a message that resonated and took advantage of the cumulative hype that the media spectacle provides. Given a nearly 50/50 chance that anyone in a program in the US was watching the game, this is an opportunity missed.

Final Score: Victory on many levels for digital marketing and mobile specifically however, these marketers and their technology partners need to hit the practice field and come up with more complete game plans to fully capture and captivate us as consumers. I am also most interested to see the follow-up/follow-through on any of these programs that I engaged with and exchanged my contact info for access/content to. How will any of the brands fare in their acknowledgement of my investment of time, attention, and contact information? As the Patriots found out, it’s not about just showing up… you also need to finish.

%d bloggers like this: