The Super Bowl is the most insane, glorious moment in the world of advertising. Our industry throws a party, and the entire country is invited. There’s literally no other time in human existence where people gather in groups, yell at each other to be quiet, and wait with bated breath to hear what brands have to say in 30 seconds of creative genius.
On behalf of all digital marketers, I must admit to being jealous about this level of engagement. It’s unparalleled. And now that I’ve admitted to the jealousy, let me get to the real point about how we feel about advertising during the big game: It’s institutional insanity. It’s outright painful to watch millions upon millions of dollars spent in ways that could do so much more for brand building and revenue generation.
For some brands -- the humongous ones selling low-involvement products, like Budweiser and Doritos -- Super Bowl advertising makes sense. Those brands win by staying top of mind because there’s not much they can do to differentiate beer and chips. But for brands with high-involvement purchases like cars, technology, lawn care and financial services, such an approach is madness.
In these categories, consumers use dozens of touchpoints on their purchase journeys. They need both emotional and functional content that empowers them to make the right purchase. Spending inordinate amounts of money to win at the top of the funnel, while ignoring the rest of the journey, is mathematically unbalanced.
To see why, let’s look back at the big winner from last year: Jeep’s reenactment of “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. It was funny and heartwarming — and perfectly timed because Super Bowl Sunday actually fell on Groundhog Day. It generated serious buzz, including thousands upon thousands of tweets and video views after the game.
The ad effectively captured attention and filled an emotional need. But that was about it. There was a massive hole in the content required to meet shoppers’ functional needs after they watched the ad. Many people couldn’t find basic information on the website. There was nothing noteworthy for social or mobile media other than retreads of the ad. There were no advancements in the purchase experience.
Brands need a shift in strategy commensurate with the shift in consumer behavior. TV advertising will continue to thrive, and even improve as targeting capabilities increase. But brands need to stop thinking of traditional advertising as a panacea for all of their challenges. It basically only serves the top of the funnel, leaving a void for information that moves the audience along the purchase journey.
Consumers need content that enriches, informs, and empowers as they shift from prospect to customer and then customer to evangelist. They need content that helps ensure they invest their hard-earned dollars in the best way possible. For brands that can afford it, it’s easy to create one big message and blast it out at the Super Bowl, but digital marketers know that’s not what drives business results.