Commentary

Tradition Is For Sports, Not Super Bowl Advertising

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to sports. I go for vintage uniforms and zero rules changes so we can have apples-to-apples comparisons of players from one era to another.

But when it comes to coverage of events and advertising within telecasts, I embrace change. After all, I sit with a smartphone and tablet within reach, and have an interest in interacting with the programming as well as brands that interest me.

On Super Bowl Sunday, more than 100 million were there for the advertisers. Yet few brands took advantage of the fact that for many, television viewing has moved from passive to interactive.

On other days, we vote. Or text to win. Or go to mobile Web sites to learn more, be entertained, and to buy.

On Sunday, all we did was wait.

It had a 1983 feel to it -- and felt as stale as a 30-year-old advertising concept (nerd kisses model, Coke makes us feel good).

Missed opportunities to engage and sell more stuff?

I could name one for every minute of stadium blackout time.

For example, Pizza Hut lost out on the chance for more dough by failing to set up a name capture as part of its free product giveaway on Tuesday. Denny’s made the same mistake in the 2010 Super Bowl telecast.

In contrast, consider how Arby’s introduced its Roastburger sandwich. For the launch, Arby’s had Jimmy Kimmel create, eat and promote the product on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Viewers were urged to text the word ROASTBURGER to a short code to receive a free sandwich with the purchase of any drink. After texting, customers were asked to respond with their ZIP code to be entered into a local database and receive additional offers from Arby’s. By doing this, the restaurant gained a valuable re-marketable database.

As a result of the one segment, Arby’s received 177,745 total entries from 152,280 unique participants; 65,000 people opted-in to join the mobile loyalty club; and the restaurant created 172 local databases to cater to the opted-in customers on a hyper-local level.

Elsewhere Sunday, Oreo actually added a mobile element to its $4 million spot, but the call to action -- go to Instagram to decide if Oreos are great because of the cookie or the cream -- was confusing and hardly inclusive, given the large number of viewers who aren’t Instagram users.

Pepsi sought to give away one million bottles of Next, but the URL shown flashed on the screen so fast that it likely was missed by most. In fact, the call to action said to go to the site by midnight Sunday for a chance to win, yet a visit there Monday morning had the contest still live.

The eagerly anticipated Clydesdale spot hit the yearly emotional right note. Budweiser easily could have built off of the moment with a mobile site showing previous Clydesdale efforts and by running a contest to determine from viewers which year’s ad was the most heartwarming.

What’s behind the reluctance to add mobile calls to action to Super Bowl spots? Some say it’s the silos in agencies where traditional and digital media are separate entities. Others throw out the idea that agency creatives don’t want to muck up 30 seconds of “art.” Still others say engagement after the Super Bowl takes a backseat to the buzz built off of a $4 million buy.

On a day when a football winner is decided, we need a champion off the field -- someone from the traditional media side who sees the opportunity to run a Super Bowl spot with a mobile call to action that takes into account the viewers’ behaviors and interests -- not to mention the brand’s need to keep the conversation going and to sell product days and months later.  

Tags: mobile, super bowl, tv
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