Super Bowl commercials often set the stage for marketing trends in the upcoming year. Reaching a massive audience, these highly coveted spots are ideal for introducing a new product or service. While celebrity endorsements, crowdsourcing and social media interaction are nothing new in the marketing industry, the Super Bowl has demonstrated how commercials using these tactics can be used as a catalyst for targeting a teenage audience – and why the opportunity is tremendous for brands looking to appeal to a younger demographic.
Celebrity Endorsements as Brand Advocates
According to Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, celebrity endorsements are often used as a mechanism for persuasion. If chosen strategically, a celebrity that is already a role model to teenagers can significantly impact their positive associations with a brand. When a brand is campaigning for a product that may not necessarily be new to the market – a celebrity endorsement can help grab the attention of teenagers – an audience that tends to be easily influenced by the commercialization of the rich and famous.
Dwayne Johnson, formerly “The Rock,” was the spokesperson for the Milk Processor Education Program's (MilkPEP)* “Got Milk?” campaign that aired during this year’s Super Bowl (shout-out to a fellow alumnus from my days at "The U"). Ranked as the second-most effective ad in the 2013 Super Bowl by Ace Metrix, Johnson’s affiliation is giving his fans a positive association with milk. Johnson has been nominated several times by the Teen Choice Awards, most recently in 2011 for Favorite Male Actor. As a role model, he has always had a strong connection with youth. Johnson’s claim to fame came with the WWE, which has always been a favored organization among the teen boy demographic. His role in the commercial was integral to MilkPEP’s efforts to grow awareness about milk’s healthy attributes among an audience of teenage viewers.
Crowdsourcing to Propel Teenage Participation
Leading up to the 2013 Super Bowl, several brands released teaser ads that prompted consumers to either vote or send in submissions for Super Bowl commercials. Crowdsourcing prompts engagement because it can put the consumer in the driver’s seat, dictating the outcome of a commercial that will be seen by millions. Ann Mukherjee, the chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay, explains that Millennials are a generation that “isn’t just looking for brands they can buy, they’re looking for brands they can buy into, brands that stand for their ideals.” They want to form a relationship with a brand that aligns with their lifestyles.
Of the 35 advertisers who held spots in this year’s Super Bowl, 20% – including Pepsi, Pizza Hut and Doritos – incorporated crowdsourcing as an engagement tactic. According to Mukherjee, Millennials make up the majority of participation for Doritos’ “Crash The Super Bowl” campaigns (airing since 2006), one of the most successful consumer-generated content campaigns in the game. Today’s teens, making up the end portion of the Millennial crowd, are ideal candidates for participation prompted by brand crowdsourcing.
Prompting Engagement through Social Media
Given that 90% of teenagers are active on social media, leveraging this demographic to prompt engagement is a smart move for brands. James P. Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, states that “today’s 13- to 17-year-olds are the first generation to go through their entire teen years with such an array of digital devices and platforms.” Because of the viral capabilities that platforms like Twitter and Facebook offer, brands are maximizing their campaigning efforts.
Prior to the game, Audi encouraged users to submit their “brave” moments on social media with the hashtag #BraveryWins. The commercial featured a prom scene, in which a dateless teenager gets thrown keys to an Audi before making his way out the door. His confidence is immediately piqued, making him a chick-magnet and giving him the courage to kiss the prom queen. This situation resonates with teenage audiences, a demographic that is conveniently also in the market as first-time car buyers. According to Loren Angelo, general manager of marketing for Audi, the company has “achieved record levels of awareness and showroom traffic with national consideration numbers showing significant spikes post game,” due to the commercial.
Celebrity endorsements, crowd sourcing and social media have weaved their way into generating buzz for a brand, especially during major events like the Super Bowl. When tailored to a teenage demographic, these tactics have shown to be effective for inspiring campaign engagement.
*Clarification: The article has been amended to correctly attribute the organization responsible for "Got Milk?"