The REAL Winners and Losers of Super Bowl Ads

There will be enough posts today about the winners and losers of the Super Bowl adfest. I won’t bother you with one more but instead give you something to think about in terms of the true winners and losers beyond the actual ads themselves.

 

Winner: Television Media and the Advertising Industry

“We don’t want to be advertised to.” I hear that a lot throughout the year and there’s certainly some truth to that. But that has nothing to do with the fact that we have social media now. People have never wanted to be advertised to. That was true when Caveman A was trying to sell a rock to Caveman B. It has always, always been about treating our audience with respect for what they need to help in their everyday lives and conveying that in a sophisticated way that compels, entertains and delights. Rather than, say, barge into their faces and say, “You’ve got to have this now, Now, NOW!”

At its best, the Super Bowl reminds us that there is still very much room for the kind of magical television advertising that excites us and gets us talking.

Think about it. Here we are, camped out around the television and some of us are actually going to get a refill on hot wings during the game because we don’t want to miss…the ads.

I know. Maybe it’s an anomaly. But obviously, what’s undeniable here is that TV advertising still matters. And while this is the day of the year where it gets the highest profile, let’s not pretend that this is the only day we pay attention or take action based on something we watched. Hard as it is to believe, we have to put down our smartphones, tablets and laptops sometime.

This doesn’t mean that TV can exist the same as it ever was and coast on the status quo. I still think far too many advertisers, including some during the Super Bowl, are missing the opportunity to leverage the eyeballs focused on the TV screen and convert them to the web. What if our TV spots drove more people to videos to see the rest of the story? Or landing pages? Or – gasp – Google Plus Hangouts? Is that so far-fetched of an idea knowing that TV can push people online extremely well in the right circumstances? No.

 

Loser: Every social mediaite who proclaims traditional media “dead.”

I live, breathe and work in the social media realm every day but where some find it chic to call traditional media “dead,” I give you Exhibit A: Super Bowl ads. We do ourselves a disservice when we ignore what’s in front of us, which is the potential power of television to drive business to, of all places, online. Hell, it just makes us look dumb. You’re tuning in. I’m tuning in. Everybody and their Grandmother is tuning in. And this isn’t the only day of the year we do, even if it’s less than we used to. If you’re saying that this medium still doesn’t have relevance, don’t forget to outfit yourself with a pair of blinders.

Those of us in social media should remember that TV can be an excellent tool for driving the consumer online to continue them down the sales funnel (I spoke to this changing role of TV in an earlier post). Because when the message is spectacularly motivating to the right audience at the right time and the next steps to take are clear, TV and the web can work together as effectively as peanut butter and jelly.

Do I think we are living in a world where digital media is largely unavoidable in most, if not all media plans? You bet. I’ll go one better – if you are not involved in social media, you are less of a relevant business to your audience because chances are excellent that they are utilizing at least one social media channel right now. We’ve evolved from the traditional vs. digital conversation. It’s usually not an either/or. It’s often a true integration of the two more than ever, not throwing a few TV and print ads together in a campaign and calling it “integrated.”

This doesn’t obligate us to always choose traditional media but it does obligate us on more occasions than not to at least consider it as a potential tool in the brand strategy toolbox. Nothing to me is an automatic “given” in what tactics one should choose, whether that’s Facebook or TV. But even if we don’t ultimately have a single shred of traditional media in our plans, we’ll be doing right by our clients to at least look at all our options. Calling any potentially viable ones “dead” is only hurting ourselves and the brands we’re trying to build.

How about we kickoff the first day after the Super Bowl with that approach?

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