MiC’s ‘super’ media showdown

Featured media pundits Todd Paterson of Starcom and Ian Barr of Rocket XL call the plays on last night's Canadian Super Bowl broadcast.

With major sporting events gaining ever more importance in the age of the PVR, the Super Bowl is king of the eyeball-getting heap. As such, it’s one of the year’s biggest opportunities for advertisers to blast their message out in a big way. But do they always make the best of it? MiC tapped Rocket XL VP Ian Barr and Starcom investment director Todd Paterson to call the plays on last night’s broadcast and give us the lowdown on who scored and who fumbled the ball.

So Ian, can you tell us about some of the social media plays in the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl XLV?

The Canadian broadcast was really uneventful, but there were a few brands that recognized the opportunity to integrate social media into their campaign efforts before and during the game. A handful of commercials had the Facebook and Twitter call-to-action at the end, but that’s pretty standard these days. With most of the audience base tuning in to be entertained by the commercials, coming up with entertaining and engaging creative content is one of the best social media plays a brand can do. Regrettably, most didn’t even do that.- Ian Barr, VP, Rocket XL

Todd, what did you think of the TV-specific plays used by this year’s advertisers?

Given the demand in Super Bowl ad sales this year, it proves there continues to be a strong appetite for TV viewing around a large event like the Super Bowl so any advertiser in this year’s game scored big. There’s always extensive hype both offline and online leading up to the big game. Even if you’re not an NFL fan, you can’t help but tune in to at least watch the halftime show or, this year, a special Glee episode that kicked off after the game. Certainly there was lots of hype this year: Hyundai and Budweiser continue to stand out in my mind as engaging ads. This year there were lots of banks filling commercial air time, including TD Bank, which launched its new creative to announce it would now be open on Sundays. It was a great example of taking advantage of Super Sunday to announce its own Sunday touchdown. – Todd Paterson, investment director, Starcom

Ian, who scored a social media touchdown? Who fumbled the social media ball?

Brisk securing the ‘unbrandable’ Eminem in its interactive execution is a touchdown on its own. The brand did an incredible job at remaining true to his cartoon-like personality through a fun campaign execution in both paid and social. The social channel calls-to-action were there, and the brand was engaging with its fans minimally during the game. Pre-Super Bowl, Budweiser dominated football with its integrated mass media/social Bud Plane execution. It generated a lot of chatter and content for the brand which Budweiser was able to share back with its fans on Facebook. The brand, however, was absent on social during the game.

Doritos had a nice pass. The brand leveraged a clever spot to launch its latest flavour battle campaign called ‘The End.’ It launched with a drive to a microsite that didn’t include a lot of social from the gate, but I’m sure they’ll be using the traffic to add on social layers post Super Bowl. There was a separate US campaign that was dominating the online space, so the Canadian brand would need to keep that in mind.

In terms of fumbles, while many US brands were innovating and attempting new plays to gain yards, most Canadian brands left their social media efforts on the bench. If even one of them tried an innovative play, it would have gained that brand significant online recognition and incremental press coverage. Imagine if CTV took half of the airtime it used to promote its programming, and provided its viewers with an interactive broadcast-meets-web real time experience.

Todd, what did you think of the broadcast sponsorship executions? Did they take appropriate advantage to convert new fans to their brands?

I don’t look at it as much as converting new fans as much as it cultivating viewer appreciation. Research indicates companies who sponsor big ticket items like the Super Bowl are appreciated by the viewer as ‘bringing the game to them’ and attaching a billboard to the show’s content versus air time in a commercial pod allows advertisers to stand out of the clutter. Nothing really stood out as innovative this year and yet I think it’s a great opportunity to use the game for advertising innovation. I think we’re overshadowed by the success and history of the US ads, which might keep us out of the creative arena in Canada. 

Ian, did you see any efforts toward cultivating a ‘second-screen’ audience or was this a missed opportunity?
Aside from those mentioned, most brands failed. Canadian marketers should be exploring ways to leverage the social networks they’ve built and amplify their broadcast media and vice versa. From our work with clients such as the NHL and Cadbury, we know that social advocates over-index in their content consumption, engagement and pass-along rate. If you need to grow your social audience base first, start with Facebook. With more than 16 million Canadians on Facebook over the age of 16, there’s a ‘Social Media Super Bowl’ audience at your disposal every day.

Todd, what about the broadcast itself? Would you have called the programming plays any differently?

The Super Bowl halftime show always draws more viewers, and it’s a good opportunity to reach both supersized NFL fans and the non-fans. I thought it was an interesting strategy this year to show a special Glee episode just after the game, drawing in new and existing viewers and creating buzz around the two events. I liked Fox’s creative in-game billboard, which showed Slushies’ thrown up into the TV viewers face.

Ian, was there anything from the advertising field south of us that you would have liked to have seen here?

Mercedes had one of the most innovative activations I’ve seen. In an initiative called the ‘Tweet Race to the Big Game,’ racing teams led by four celebrities made their way to Cowboys Stadium from Chicago, NY, LA and Tampa. They drove specially equipped Mercedes while competing in a series of challenges along the way. By winning challenges and getting the most ‘Twitter Fuel’ (a.k.a. generating Twitter activity), participants could win a 2012 C Class Coupe. You have to check out the engineered vehicle that can be controlled by tweets.

PepsiCo’s Crash the Super Bowl asked fans of Doritos and Pepsi Max to create a 30-second spot showcasing their love for one of the brands between September and November of last year. Finalists were announced in January and posted online for fans to vote on. The four spots with the most votes, along with the two chosen by PepsiCo execs aired last night. Their combined earned and paid efforts ensured Doritos was a top ranking brand in the Brand Bowl.

On a tactical level, I checked out the #brandbowl tag on Twitter throughout the game and Chrysler was smart enough to have purchased a promoted tweet for that search term. As a result, anyone checking out the Brand Bowl buzz on twitter was exposed to Chrysler’s branded tweet driving viewers to its YouTube page to watch its Super Bowl commercial collection. It’s understanding when and how to buy in social that can make the biggest impact.

Todd, was there anything from the advertising field south of us that you would have liked to have seen here?

Ad creativity. This is where viewers like me watch the Super Bowl for the US ads (online). Both pre- and post-game, there was lots of hype around the US ads. I thought the most engaging ad was created by Chrysler using Eminem, a spot produced in Detroit emphasising Chrysler is made in Detroit. The spot didn’t feel like another car commercial, it was more about remembering who we are as North Americans and reminding us why it’s as important as being American to buy American. This was a very timely ad given the automotive sector is quickly climbing out of the red and it takes a big American game to launch this big American spot.