I love the Super Bowl ads as much as anyone. I never stop being amazed by the creativity and humor on display during each year's big game. This year was no exception: screeching squirrels, a strutting heart, shrunken heads, talking babies, the list goes on. For what Super Bowls ads are and always have been, they're terrific. My problem is that I believe broadband video allows Super Bowl ads to be much more than what they are and always have been. But the agency world does not seem to be getting this message.
Two years ago I wrote "The Ten Million Dollar Super Bowl Ad?", where I outlined a scenario under which a 30 second spot could someday go for ten million bucks. How? By combining the best of brand advertising (the big emotional play) with the best of online advertising (the big measurable, performance-oriented play).
I wrote in that post: "What I envision is that the 30-second spot during the game will become the viewer's introduction or re-introduction to the brand or product. Numerous online, broadband-centric tactics will follow, with video being the center of the action. In football terms, the 30-second spot will morph from throwing a long pass (which is accompanied by high drama, but low probability of an actual score) to executing a more consistent ground game (accompanied by lower drama, but a much higher probability of an actual score). With this added measurability and a direct feedback loop, marketers will have much less anxiety about whether to ante up for the big game (and therefore the price will spiral upward).
I thought agencies and marketers would see this light and rush toward it. Boy was I over-optimistic. After watching all 52 Super Bowl ads this morning (thanks AOL), I am completely dismayed to report that, by my count, only 5 ads had any broadband video component:
GoDaddy - promoting Danica Patrick's "Exposure" banned ad and other videos
TideToGo - promoting "MyTalkingStain.com" a fun microsite
Life Water - promoting "Thrillicious.com" a microsite with a 2nd spot with the dancing iguanas
Sunsilk - promoting "LifeCantWait.com", a microsite with a UGC contest which is not yet active
Pepsi - promoting "PepsiStuff.com", with Amazon (ok, more focused on music than video)
All of the other 47 ads, representing tens of millions of dollars of clients' money, followed the same game plan from Super Bowls' past: go for either the clever, the funny or the gross, in an attempt to create buzz and fond memories for fans.
For me, this hidebound behavior showcases agencies at their most disappointing: unable to break out of the box, recognize new consumer engagement opportunities for their clients or embrace new technologies. Their inability or unwillingness to be more progressive is at the heart of why the whole advertising industry is in such chaos, with an increasing share of total spending shifting to online each year.
Nonetheless, I remain a long-term optimist. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm still betting that someday, somehow, more agencies and brands will wake up and realize what the 5 brands above did this year: the combination of on-air and broadband is how to score a touchdown.
What do you think? Post a comment and let us all know!