By Rebecca Pierce
I remember back in elementary school when I couldn’t wait to watch the Super Bowl. My school would be abuzz with feelings of rivalry. Everyone would ask each other, “What team do you want to win,” and students who picked the same team to root for would cluster together. Although I watched the game to see if the team I chose won, I mostly watched for the commercials. I couldn’t wait to see the first ad that aired. I was like an addict. After one funny or quirky or inspiring commercial, I wanted to see another and then another and another. I loved being surprised by the creativity of companies selling their brands; the commercials made for the Super Bowl were meant to impress their audience.
In recent years, the Super Bowl has lost its oomph, largely due to the fact that many commercials made for the Super Bowl are no longer a surprise to viewers. They are aired online in advance. The digital world has taken advertising by storm. Because the internet gives companies a cheap way to advertise, consumers are bombarded with advertisements, creating an oversaturation of advertising. Consumers are so overwhelmed with advertising that they put on their blinders, seeing only the advertisements they want to see. Companies fight to the death to develop and sustain brand recognition. Companies’ solution to oversaturation seems to be trying to create an experience for consumers, rather than just an ad to be watched.
Many Super Bowl 2012 commercials were aired online in advance and attempted to create an experience for consumers. In the last Ad Buzz article, writer Kyleen McNicholas discussed the 10 second YouTube clip starring Matthew Broderick that played off the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. By the date of the Super Bowl flashed at the end of the clip, it seemed viewers would have to wait until February 5 to see what the clip was all about. The teaser would have been a tantalizing tidbit to make people watch for the commercial starring Broderick during the Super Bowl…except the entire commercial was released January 26 on YouTube by Honda. Confusion ensues as to why Honda put the date of the Super Bowl in the teaser…only to rain on their own parade and air the ad before the Super Bowl. Although Honda’s commercial for their new CR-V was anticlimactic on Super Bowl Sunday, the commercial did try and create an experience for lovers of the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by having, “over two dozen references to the movie throughout the commercial.”
Coca-cola also released one of their three commercials aired during the Super Bowl in advance. All three commercials featured two animated polar bears watching the Super Bowl cheering for opposing teams. Advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy took social media advertising to a whole new level with cokepolarbowl.com, where the same polar bears featured in the Super Bowl spots were watching and reacting to the Super Bowl live.
Honda and Coca-cola are two examples of how Super Bowl advertising has shifted to being an expected digital experience for consumers but one has to wonder if this is really what consumers want for the Super Bowl? Do viewers want to know the commercials they are going to see during the Super Bowl before the actual Super Bowl airs? Do they want to be directed to a website dedicated to the brand or be instructed to tweet or Facebook about an ad? Or is this preplanning and social media advertising for the Super Bowl just an ill fated attempt to take advantage of the tempting advertising outlet the internet provides?