Super Bowl Marketing Goes Native

Native advertising has come to the Super Bowl’s TV marketing buildup.

Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith appeared on ESPN Wednesday to talk about all things Super Bowl and of course, about the hottest football brand of the moment: the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.

A moment after being introduced to viewers on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” the host said Smith’s appearance came courtesy of Bud Light, which then offered a message of caution about drinking too much during the big game.

Smith spent a day on ESPN, including participation in an online chat for the network’s “SportsNation” program.

In addition to his Super Bowl chatter, Smith praised Bud Light for teaming up with Uber, a national transportation company whose smartphone app will get a car within 15 minutes for those who imbibe a bit too much and want to go home.

At lot has been made about identifying “native advertising” efforts, with the latest definition of the term being “Messaging incorporated into the context and/or flow of editorial on digital print-like platforms.”



Traditional TV, however, has seen this type of ad messaging in one form or another for perhaps as long as the medium has been around.  

Much native content comes in the form of branded entertainment, which is everywhere on reality shows. If that doesn’t work, end-credit mentions about marketer-supplied products and services are available.

Federal regulators, worried about more “blurring” of advertising and program content, feel that consumers need to be aware of what is going on.  Online platforms can play fast and loose here; not everyone will affix a label such as “sponsored content” somewhere on a piece of content.

Some say even TV needs more disclosure, especially with scripted shows and branded entertainment.  For example, we don’t see on-screen messages saying “sponsored content” in videos where a special state or government agent drives off in a BMW or Chevrolet SUV as part of a branded entertainment deal.

Perhaps we need those on-screen messages in more obvious places. Some even consider regular old TV commercials as “native” content, even though the natural break of a commercial pod signals to viewers that something is going on.

And Super Bowl commercials themselves?  On that particular big TV day, they can surely be native advertising content too.

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