3 lessons Super Bowl ads cannot teach

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2011/02/10 · 8 comments 13,364 views

in a analysis: gaining insights,b why benchmark failures

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Update 2013-01-28 Read also: Super Bowl: Is digital changing Coca-Cola’s choices?

AP informed the masses that this year’s menu for the White House Super Bowl party included bratwurst and kielbasa sausages, cheeseburgers, deep-dish pizza, spicy Buffalo chicken wings, potato salad, stuffed baked potatoes, and assorted chips and dips – all washed down with several kinds of beer.

Clearly, President Obama served his guests genuine cholesterol-charged, heart-stopping, traditional manly fare, in keeping with the Super Bowl’s reputation as an excuse for an all-American pig-out from lowliest beggar to national leader.

Image - Just getting ready to throw the first touchdown - Aaron Rodgers - Super Bowl XLV was played in Arlington, Texas and won by the Green Bay Packers.In the context of social media monitoring and marketing, however, the Super Bowl is most famous for its TV adverts. Of course, unless your company can afford the US$2.5 million price tag for a 30-second spot, keep dreaming.

30 Commercials that were shown during the Super Bowl on Sunday 2011-02-06, played in Austin, Texas


What other options do we have if we cannot afford a 2012 Super Bowl ad? We discuss this in more detail below.

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3 lessons Super Bowl ads cannot teach

Afterward, I came across this interesting quote:

      “Spending money on marketing is worthless unless your business knows what worked and what did not work. It is essential to get feedback on all aspects of your campaign. It is simple with today’s technology to ask the consumer in the targeted segment to go to your website or use a social media tool to judge results. The Ford Focus commercial encouraged the audience to cheer on their team online and “Watch, Compete, and Win.”



7 Key Lessons Super Bowl Ads Can Teach Small Business Owners

    – 2011-02-07

So I went to see if the Ford Focus commercial could serve as an example.

1. Define your campaign’s goals

What are the top three tasks that Ford’s ads must accomplish? According to Barry Moltz’s reasoning, following and cheering on my favorite team could be counted as success.

However, will cheering for my team and hoping to win the sweepstakes get targeted US consumers to purchase a Focus? I am definitely not clear on this.

Clearly define the three most important actions you would like your audience to perform before launch.

2. Ensure authenticity

Image - FIRST tweet from @BrittBoddington - is working on linking my youtube, facebook, myspace and twitter accounts!How does Ford’s campaign stack up? Casting calls are unlikely to attract Joe the Plumber, but wannabe actors instead.

The media was told an important selection criteria was being social media savvy, but Brittany only started tweeting AFTER the casting event. Is that social media savvy?

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a significant increase in obesity since 1976-1980. Obesity increased from 5.0 to 18.1 percent between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 among adolescents aged 12-19.

Again, looking at the team members’ pictures (see below), none of them seem to have a body mass index of 30 or higher. Statistically, you would think at least two team members would be obese.

I think the Ford social media team became hostage to their own ad agency, which wanted things to be perfect, completely forgetting who they were trying to connect and engage with: the US under-30 crowd.

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3. Evaluate your success

Six teams of two people - do these beautiful, slim and trim folks look to you like the average Ford Focus customer? All are models, TV personalities, actors, etc. and Ford suggests they are like 'real' people - come again?As with any marketing activity, measurement is necessary – otherwise, you’ll never gauge the true impact of your efforts, which also have to be integrated into your broader marketing strategy.

Considering the costs (i.e. sweepstakes, the team members’ compensation AND the ad agency’s cut), was the Ford Focus Rally campaign a success?

Barry Moltz suggests that, “The Ford Focus commercial encouraged the audience to cheer on their team online and ‘Watch, Compete, and Win.'” By 2011-02-08, Ford Focus Rally America’s Team Red had about 5300 followers. Is that success? Seriously?

Because I found the above number rather meaningless, I looked at customer engagement, including the number of re-tweets and discovered that engagement would be pretty difficult, since commenting on the website was impossible. Using the @reply on Twitter or posting on team members’ Facebook walls can be done but is used not very often. Using Twitter hashtags like #FordFocus or #FordRally also does not seem to be used by team members and their followers either.

Plus, for all practical purposes the excitement seems fairly limited. If we compare all this to the effort invested in spreading the news using traditional media, as well as PR (Newswire Press release channels, TV commercials aired several times, Hulu and other hoopla…), I wonder.

Bottom line

Is social media marketing really free? Definitely not, as the Ford Rally America example shows. Not even spending the amount of money Detroit usually does to promote their fare guarantees a successful social media campaign, never mind viral.

Watch the video / TV commercial that was used to kick off the campaign below.

YouTube Preview Image

It is difficult for this outsider looking in to understand how such an artificial car adventure with people that appear rather unreal can get US consumers into Ford showrooms. Your take?

If you like this post, please share it with your friends.

Are you with me on these trends? Did Ford do the right thing with its Ford Rally America campaign or should they have spent the money on a traditional Super Bowl TV advert instead?

What do you think? Please leave a comment; the floor is yours!

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