Only two days removed from Super Bowl XLIX and there are a few things we all learned: Pete Carroll made the wrong call, Tom Brady solidified his legacy, and more brands than ever are making a bigger push to join the online, real-time conversation on social media.
Fans reacting to and commenting on both the Super Bowl and its ads have created a space where brands want to be — resulting in what we now know as real-time marketing. No longer can brands rely on a simple, creative TV spot to win the night. Now it’s a TV spot, uploaded to YouTube a week before the game, with a social strategy, and maybe some coinciding digital media to give their social a boost.
To consumers, this is nothing new. Social media has become the collective living room couch, and we’re all a part of the peanut gallery. But, for brands and advertisers, this is still a new tactic that has only grown in the past few years.
Interestingly, this all started at a Super Bowl game when the New Orleans Superdome suffered a temporary black out, and Oreo cleverly jumped in on the social conversation in an authentic way. While Oreo hasn’t recreated the same magic sense of two years ago, it created a “monster” with its success. The ensuing buzz and glowing press inspired brands last year to try and recreate the same magic. This year the bar was raised even higher.
Many brands’ agencies staffed social “war rooms” — filled with community managers, content creators and even legal, to ensure that real-time brand content could be created, approved and published on the fly. Staffing ran companies into the seven-figure range, a quarter of a Super Bowl ad spot. While most fans enjoyed chicken wings on the couch, these teams were hard at work during the game prepping the brand’s social media postings to join in on the real-time conversations.
Why is this real-time space the next big thing in advertising and marketing? It results in immediate, measurable engagement that brands can watch — whether it is a retweet, a reply or a “like.” Hopefully, new followers are gained in the process. The real-time social space also creates a level playing field, whether you have a Super Bowl spot or not, where the consumers rule. If people like or don’t like your brand’s creative, they will let you know — and in doing so will either reward you or mock you for it.
Kudos to McDonald’s for its real-time marketing effort. To reinforce its message of happiness, McDonald’s created a special Super Bowl sweepstakes for followers on Twitter. Multiple retweet contests throughout the night gave away free products from all of the other Super Bowl advertisers (including 10 cars). The tweets had thousands of retweets or submissions, throughout the evening and even spilled into the next day. This was an interesting tactic to steal or build upon impact from the other brands.
But, there was something missing. The multiple contests all lived on Twitter with little mention outside of the site. It was a clever move, but could’ve been helped by cross-platform promotion in the McDonald’s TV spot, which was an entirely different campaign message. While I’m sure the contests will be viewed as a success, and they certainly ignited a large amount of social chatter, I still can’t help but feel that there was a missed opportunity to make the contests even bigger.
A brand that did this well and was a newcomer to the Super Bowl ad game was Squarespace, the online website building platform. A simple 30-second spot with Jeff Bridges had no tagline, but only a URL to a Squarespace site featuring Jeff Bridges’ music. Squarespace used promoted posts on Twitter to directly connect users on their phone, tablet, or computer with the custom site from the TV spot. This approach produced the crucial connection between the TV creative and real-time marketing tactics, which is essential.
Super Bowl XLIX demonstrated that brands desperately want to be part of the social conversation. But, as more brands join the online peanut gallery, what happens next? Facebook was notably absent from brand messaging and strategy, despite its late attempt at utilizing a new real-time advertising service. Snapchat was eerily quiet (perhaps, on purpose) on social media’s biggest night and, yet, it seems like the most logical next platform for brands looking to break through the clutter. Similar to Facebook, is Twitter in danger of quickly becoming the “traditional” real-time marketing service, and as a result suffering a loss in interest from users and brands alike?
Today’s water cooler conversation is now filled with brands trying to join the real-time conversation all because of a “little event” called the Super Bowl.