Q&A with Tim Berney
Social media give Super Bowl ads
better mileage from investment
Q: How can companies justify $4 million to $4.5 million for a 30-second television spot?
A: Multiple reasons, but it is the subject of great debate. The Super Bowl is not just a football game to the average person. They know there are going to be commercials that are developed for entertainment value first. People watch them intensely; many are more interested in the commercials than the game. But here's a classic example of the power of an ad during the game: We all know the Masterlock spot where they shoot a rifle through the lock and it stays closed after a direct hit. Masterlock only ran that spot during the Super Bowl for many years, and the cost was almost their entire annual budget. They built their entire brand around one airing per year. Today, brands are finally getting a lot more mileage out of their investment. Spots are released early on social media platforms and garner millions of views before they air. Some brands are bringing the consumer into the experience through voting on which spot should air, choosing the payoff (ending), even letting people submit ideas.
Q: How has social media transformed Super Bowl advertising?
A: Just a few years ago, the popularity of spots was measured through postgame focus groups and other types of polling. Now, we get real-time feedback on what the viewer thought. And the brands themselves will be reposting and retweeting comments from the public, making the social media work for them in real time. Coke is even offering to make a donation to a charity if their spots get shared 10,000 times on social media — a pretty lame, exploitative scheme in my opinion. Of course most spots are already on YouTube, so social media is participating in many ways. This year, I look for brands to be trying to duplicate what Oreo did last year, tying the power outage to their brand in real time during the game, because they almost stole the show with it. But hopefully we will see some fresh tactics too. My firm is using the hashtag #SpooferBowl to participate in the game in real time with some pretty innovative tactics to play along and get a little attention.
Q: Can you give us a preview of what we might see in Super Bowl advertising this year?
A: Doritos is back. We don't know which spot they are airing because it's open to voting. They're all good though. GoDaddy is also back, but not focusing on Danica Patrick this year, but airing what I think is a spot that supports their brand better than in the past. We're seeing plenty of stars in ads this year too. Hyundai, Oikos Yogurt, Audi, SodaStream, Wonderful Pistachios, and Kia have all enlisted big-time celebrities. But what I like a lot this year is that Pepsi has decided to take a more integrated approach to their plans. Instead of buying spots, they are sponsoring the halftime show. They are attempting to take ownership of halftime in general, as evidenced by their faux Grammy Awards halftime, and their “inventing halftime” spot that has been running for weeks. The association with music is great for their brand and the extensions off the halftime sponsorship are countless. They are also producing ads and videos based on other “halftimes” that are airing online and in other programming. I like the Carol Channing bingo game halftime video and think the strategy is brilliant. Pepsi's strategy is said to be a monthlong effort, but I can see it having legs far beyond that. It's not just about advertising, it's about an integrated marketing program that lets social, PR, web and ads all support the strategy together. It's modern marketing at a high level and for less dollars than a handful of 30-second spots in the Super Bowl.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER