The question before the Super Bowl every year seems to be “Are you watching more for the game or the commercials?” Being a person who practices the dark arts of advertising and marketing, I’ve usually been glued for the game and the commercials. Certainly not for the halftime shows.
In the agency world, being a person behind a Super Bowl spot has always been the pinnacle. The Everest. The bragging rights. The kick-butt answer to “Have I ever seen any of your work?”
But there’s something that’s been nagging at me about Super Bowl commercials: I’m feeling more nostalgic about them in the context of the world we live in today and every day. I know it’s the one moment that’s more different for the advertising world than any other moment of the year, but it feels more removed than it ever did. Here we gather around a big screen to thirst for seeing something on TV that will wow us, thrill us and get us talking the next day.
How often do we do that on other days of the year? Are we even doing it that much after the big game like we used to? In our world of smartphones, blogging, Tweeting, YouTubing, Facebooking, Linking In and so much more, how often are we feeling this passionate about TV commercials versus having conversations with others in cyberspace?
You and I both know the answer to this. The passion we feel for social media makes a Super Bowl ad look like an old man sitting on a park bench saying, “Sit down and I’ll tell you a story about the day I aired in 1993. It was during the 2nd quarter and if I remember, the Cowboys and Bills were playing that day…”
If push comes to shove, you can take away Super Bowl ads but if you take away Facebook you’ll have people marching in the streets.
Believe it or not, I’m actually not going off on a “TV is Dead” rant here. What I’m saying is there is great irony in that, on the day in which TV commercials are the star that on so many other days of the year, they’re not the star. They’re changing. Not dead, but changing. That is, for those advertisers smart enough to recognize that and do something about it in the delivery so their Super Bowl ads have greater relevance.
How can they stay relevant? To me, a Super Bowl ad in today’s era provides its money’s worth to the advertiser in how it drives the conversation online after the show. If it’s a great ad, it doesn’t just entertain and go nowhere. That’s fine and good if we’re living in 1984 and Apple is introducing the Macintosh. But we’re not. We’re watching the game with a smartphone in our hands and it’s a golden opportunity for each and every advertiser to do something about it. We’re live blogging and live texting and live posting. And live SHARING.
It’s time for Super Bowl ads to grow up.
The best of them have got to take us to a place where we’re inspired to do more than watch and have an emotional response. That’s right. Water cooler chatter is great, but it’s time to up the ante. We have to log on no later than the next day to interact with the brand as a result of the Super Bowl ad – heck, maybe we’ll even do that right after the ad appears if it’s just that awesome.
Think about it. As much as you ever did, you’re commanding the attention of a nation. You can leverage that incredible moment to direct your audience you’ve just inspired to a place online where you want them to do something. Whether it’s posting a video of their own or posting on your Facebook page or watching the other half of your Super Bowl commercial on your YouTube channel to see what happens next, it’s an action.
That’s Super Bowl Ad 2.0. Leveraging a huge opportunity to excite people beyond the 30 seconds you’re spending with them to build momentum and new relationships online, on a large scale.
That feels like a new tradition and something brands, agencies and the people at home watching can get excited about. All over again.