M&M's Super BowlThe Super Bowl offers instant access to 111 million pairs of American eyeballs, making it a huge event for US brand advertisers. However, in recent years the hype around the big game ads has also spilled over into non-US markets, aided mainly by social networks and online video. Now brands put out teasers or ‘release’ their ads weeks in advance, meaning that regardless of where you are on the planet, there’s a reasonably high chance you’ve seen or heard about at least one of the commercials. From an advertising perspective, something is going right here, so it’s important to identify what’s happening and to see if there’s anything we can apply in non-US markets?

1. Traditional TV spots can be ‘content’ too.

We often hear arguments – usually blended into a pitch for branded content/native advertising – about how people hate and ignore traditional ads; yet the Super Bowl demonstrates how people are willing to admit to enjoying commercials when: (a) it’s socially acceptable to say so; and (b) the content is fresh. Put simply,the reason most people complain about advertising is usually down to poor creative work, deliberately annoying ads, or the lack of frequency capping. If you disagree and think content is the solution, try persuading your audience to watch/read/listen to your content more than once.

2. Event television provides benefits for the entire advertising industry, not just for TV or for the rights holders.

Everyone in the industry benefits from the intense focus on the Super Bowl commercials. The fact that many of the same brands return year after year rams home the point that advertising works. The significant – sometimes huge – investments in quality creative work also provides a showcase for the power of sight, sound and motion. Those working in markets outside of the US markets could learn a lot from the Super Bowl. For example, similar ‘advertising events’ could easily be created. For example, ITV could use the X Factor final to simultaneously ‘release’ all of the leading Christmas ads in one go.

3. The smart companies were on standby for second screen wins

About 90 seconds into the second half of the game, the lights on one half of the Superdome’s roof suddenly went dark. Then the Internet network in the press box went down, followed by the scoreboards going blank. Oreo were quick of the mark with a sponsored tweet that surfaced on Twitter just 4 minutes later.

The response was created by Dentsu’s 360i, who told Buzzfeed that the secret to being so quick off the mark was having Oreo executives in the room with them during the game:

“We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity,” agency president Sarah Hofstetter told BuzzFeed. “Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes.”

Oreo had already aired a solid TV ad with their “Cookie or Creme” spot. But they were ready to capitalize on social media as well when the lights went out.

“The big question is, what happens when everything changes, when you go off script?,” Hofstetter said. “That was where it got fun.”

The key? Having OREO executives in the room, and ready to pull the trigger.

4. TV and online advertising really do have a symbiotic relationship.

You don’t have to come to watch the Super Bowl or come to trade sites like this one to read about the Super Bowl ads. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the ads whether it’s leading news organisations, bedroom bloggers, or individuals on social networks. That incremental online hype hasn’t had a negative impact on CBS’s big game inventory. In fact, it’s had a positive impact — a 30-second spot now costs around $3.8 million to $4 million up $1 million from the $2.9 million CBS were charging in 2009.


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