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Tom Brady, or Melissa McCarthy? Game-changing plays, or brand-building spots? If you watched the big game last night, did you watch it for the game – or was all that football interrupting your main event … the commercials?

Super Bowl ads have gained a reputation for entertaining viewers with humor, animals, and heart-warming stories. The Super Bowl, being the most-watched event on television, is a prime opportunity for companies to attract such coveted consumer attention.

But the entertainment doesn’t end after a brand’s 30 seconds are up. Super Bowl ads are a social experience. We share our favorites (and least favorites) with family, friends, and coworkers. That’s part of the marketing strategy – the public conversation. This once meant the “water cooler talks” on Monday morning. Now, social media has taken those conversations to a much wider audience. According to an article in The Crimson White, 4.3 billion Tweets were viewed on and off Twitter during the game in 2016. Viewers are talking about ads as they happen.

Driven by the lifestyles and communication preferences of their consumers, marketers and public relation specialists are taking Super Bowl ads to a whole new level. This year, several companies marketed their advertisements before Sunday in order to get a longer time span of engagement with consumers. This has been a trend for several years; however, marketing methods utilizing social media is a new development.

Companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev uploaded their advertisement to YouTube and then shared it through other social media platforms to start conversations among consumers. Mars Chocolate and Buick leveraged social media in an even more unique way. Mars Chocolate capitalized on the Facebook Live tool, just launched in early 2016, conducting a 36-hour live-stream of their Snickers ad studio leading up to the first ever live ad during the game.

Buick pushed their Cascada and Encore commercial through a new Instagram feature called Stories.

Of course, this all comes at a cost. According to ad buyers, the cost of a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl was $5 million this year. To then market the advertisement for increased engagement could be another $1-2 million as suggested by entertainment marketing agencies.

“Television advertising continues to be an important part, but it’s not enough anymore,” Berta De Pablos-Barier, vice president of marketing for Mars Chocolate, told The New York Times.

What can we take away from the trends of this year’s Super Bowl ads? Regardless of the costs, social media promotions such as these offer insights for mass marketing trends. Take the initiative to create a platform for conversations about your product, and always be one step ahead of the “game.”

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