Monday, February 4, 2013
Did you see that blackout last night?!? No, not the one that stopped Super Bowl XLVII dead in its tracks for over 30 minutes. I'm talking about the near total blackout of meaningful email, mobile, and social calls-to-action in the commercials that brands were rumored to pay nearly $4 million per 30 seconds.
In my previous post, Super Bowl, Super Audience Building, I shared that I was looking forward to more brands hopefully following Papa John's lead by using their $4 million ad spend to build and engage email, mobile, and/or social audiences. To say I was sorely disappointed would be an understatement.
Sure, the press today is giddy with praise over Oreo's quick-thinking, news-jacking, real-time marketing effort -- a picture of an Oreo in the dark that has been retweeted nearly 15,000 times as of this writing. It has led many to say that "Oreo's Tweet Won the Super Bowl." There's no arguing that what Oreo did was fast, witty, and a helluva lot less expensive than their "Whisper Fight" Super Bowl commercial which was the only ad driving viewers to an Instagram page during the entire game. The real reason Oreo won the #BrandBowl, however, was because both their free and paid efforts sought to build and engage audiences. Their ads weren't just "one & done," they walk away from Super Bowl XLVII with bigger followings on Instagram and Twitter--and those are audiences they can activate long after the Ravens' victory has faded from memory.
But what of all the other advertisers? Well, as a jaded Cleveland Browns fan who can only root in vain against The Baltimore Ravens, the ghost of Art Modell, and LeBron James, I found myself making furious notes about each and every advertiser's email, mobile, and social calls-to-action during the Super Bowl last night. Here's the 30,000 foot view:
- From 6PM EST until the commercial break immediately after Super Bowl XLVII finished, 126 commercials were shown.
- Of these, 33 commercials were promos for CBS programming--not one of which displayed so much as a URL, let alone an email, mobile or social CTA.
- 10 commercials were promos for the NFL. Eight of those promoted NFLEVOLUTION.COM, one promoted NFLRUSH.com, and one just promoted the NFL Network. No email, mobile, or social CTAs appeared.
Doing the math, that leaves 83 non-CBS/NFL commercials that ran during Super Bowl XLVII in my market (Cleveland). Here's the stunning breakdown on how those 83 commercials fared in terms of their CTAs:
- 53% (44) included URLs
- 33% (27) included a hashtag
- 14% (12) included a Facebook CTA of some kind
- 6% (6) included a Twitter icon
- 6% (5) included a specific Facebook page URL
- 5% (4) included a YouTube icon
- 4% (3) included a Phone Number
- 1% (1) included an Instagram CTA (@Oreo)
- 1% (1) included an SMS CTA (Wounded Warrior Project--Text WWP to 50555 to Donate $10)
- 1% (1) included a CTA to download an app from the Apple AppStore--Star Trek: Into Darkness)
Frankly, I'm being kind to many of the advertisers by saying that their ads had "calls-to-action." In most cases, the URLs and social icons were onscreen for no more than a second--far too short for any average consumer to take action. Indeed, it took this Marketer from Mars to pause, stop, rewind, and replay the ads in order to capture all the data above. As for those brands without any call-to-action (I'm looking at you Gildan), there needs to be a serious conversation today about whether "branding" alone can justify the expense of a Super Bowl commercial--especially when Oreo's own real-time blackout news-jacking produces 100x the buzz for one millionth of the cost.
So without further ado, here are my Top 7 bits of advice to Super Bowl XLVIII advertisers next year:
- BUILD EMAIL & OTHER AUDIENCES. In 2014, FOX has the broadcast rights to the Super Bowl to be held at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, New Jersey. The world's biggest game across the river from the world's media capital. It's the perfect time for you to use your $4 million+ ad to build your own audience. Have a strong call-to-action that drives viewers to register on your website and--unlike PepsiNEXT this year--ask for their email addresses!!! If that's too much to ask, then ask them overtly to "like" you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter or join your audience anywhere you live online. Your 30 second ad can both brand and build your audiences--audiences that you can leverage to make sales for the rest of the year.
- DON'T BURY THE LEAD. Please, please, please do not relegate your call-to-action to the last few nanoseconds of your commercial. Lock the creative branding guys in a closet if you must, but get them to devote time throughout the ad to your URL or other email, mobile, and social CTAs. Consumers are not like marketers. They don't obsessively rewind ads so they get the spelling of your domain right. Share it, share it, and share it again so it motivates action.
- GET MOBILE. The world is going mobile, but you sure wouldn't know it from Super Bowl XLVII. Only one ad (Star Trek) directed viewers to download an app, and only one other (Wounded Warriors) had a mobile CTA (Text WPP to 50555 to Donate $10). For the love of all that is location-based, please consider how your brand is going to get those smartphone and tablet users--you know, the 77% of TV viewers who watch TV with mobile devices nearby--to engage with your brand while they're still watching the game. C'mon! You're creative! Get 'appy!
- DON'T TIME OUT UNNECESSARILY. Kudos to AXE this year for a call-to-action with a purpose! They directed viewers to www.axeapollo.com and encouraged them to "register by Midnight" for a chance to win a trip to outer space. Great idea! They probably got thousands of folks to register. The only problem--the expiration date. With so much coverage of the commercials after the Super Bowl, AXE would have been wiser to set a registration date a bit further out. As of this writing, I can't even access the website. Seems like a huge missed opportunity to extend the value of their ad buy by continuing to register folks this week.
- USE YOUTUBE!!! Only 4 advertisers even mentioned that they had YouTube pages, even though almost every single one of them posted their Super Bowl commercials to YouTube. YouTube is an amazing location for TV advertisers to create post-broadcast engagement. Moreover, it gives users an incredibly easy way to subscribe to all of your future video content. For 2014, someone please get really creative with a YouTube Super Bowl CTA. It can and should be used for more than pre-game ad hype.
- EVER HEARD OF PINTEREST? Now I'm admittedly feeling a bit snarky, but with Pinterest gaining a ton of users and a ton of engagement around brands that lend themselves to high visuals, I'm simply stunned that not one Super Bowl advertiser directed people to engage with them on Pinterest. Likely candidates would have been Maybelline (make-up), Oreo (they did do Instagram), and any of the car manufacturers. Next year, I'm really hoping for at least one brand to show how a Pinterest CTA can create amazing in-game and post-game interaction.
- INCLUDE A CALL-TO-ACTION. I'm sorry, but $4 million is far too much to spend for a "branding only" ad. Look at Mercedes-Benz. They ran all sorts of teasers promoting their fourth quarter Super Bowl ad featuring Willem Dafoe as the devil (a role he frequently plays in my nightmares). It was a GREAT ad. But the car doesn't come out until September 2013. SEPTEMBER 2013!!! What are fans who lust after that vehicle supposed to do until then? Sure, Mercedes-Benz includes a URL to their Facebook page, but why not explicitly tell folks to visit the Mercedes-Benz website to register for news as it happens on the new vehicle? Why not create that database? I know this is a throw-back to my first piece of advice, but every Super Bowl advertiser really does need a meaningful call-to-action that engages viewers. It's simply not enough to walk away with some Twitter mentions and third place in the #BrandBowl. Brand marketers, it's time to demand more of your brand agencies and yourselves!
With that, I will get off my #SuperBowl soapbox for yet another year. In closing, I leave you with a list of all the hashtags this year's Super Bowl advertisers wished you would have used. Of course, the only one that really mattered was #blackout. Let's hope the advertisers don't repeat the blackout--literally or figuratively--next year.
P.S. If you're looking for more insights like these, be sure to join me for our February 14th webinar on our SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS: MARKETERS FROM MARS research. Register now and I hope to see you then!