Super Bowl advertisers entertained, but failed to engage
By Jeff Hasen
Butterfingers were all over Super Bowl XLVIII, starting when Peyton Manning let the first snap go through his hands, continuing with a spot for the aforementioned candy, and capped by the group of high-spending advertisers that let another one get away.
Yes, you have heard this one before. Heck, if you are a regular reader, you have seen me write this disappointment-laden piece in this publication for six straight years.
This was going to be the year of the meaningful mobile call-to-action extension of a television ad. Ummm, no.
Long before the fourth quarter, I had lost hope. No, not for the Broncos – after all, the Seahawks are my championship-starved hometown’s. I was Hopeless in Seattle that anything had changed.
Advertisers came to entertain, not engage. The second screen and willingness by tens of millions or more to act on mobile were totally ignored.
I asked Sean Bartlett, director of mobile strategy and platforms at Lowe’s, for some perspective.
“I’m going with preserving creative integrity,” Mr. Bartlett told me.
But can we not have “creative integrity” that includes a mobile call to action?
“Yes, though most are brand anthems, not direct response,” he said.
Ironically, the closest we came to an ad with 2014 behavior in mind was after the game when few outside Seattle were watching.
Playing on its supposed ability to save us 30 percent, esurance invited viewers to tweet #esuranceSave30 to enter a contest to win the $1.5 million that the brand had saved by having the ad run once the “contest” on the field was over.
It was reported that the esurance ad generated more than 1.2 million tweets – impressive given the late hour, lopsided score, and the fact that only 22 percent of smartphones owners have the Twitter application.
Contrast that with what could have been a text message call to action that could be responded to by all – and followed up with a request for mobile users to join a loyalty club. Hundreds of thousands, if not more, could have been there for ongoing dialogue with the brand.
The only SMS call to action came in a familiar way – viewers were asked to vote for the game’s MVP.
Surprisingly, Fox did not augment its coverage with mobile content during the game.
Given the fact that we had to endure hours and hours of numbing babble leading up to kickoff, one would think the network would use its Fox Sports Go iPad app to show us different angles, engage with analysts, and be involved in a mini Fantasy Football contest that would have kept interest despite the lopsided score.
Yes, there were Shazam prompts, but there was nothing new there. I still question whether Shazam is the right vehicle on the loudest of days of television watching.
Looking at a few of the spots:
Ford failed to “double down” with back-to-back commercials without extending the new Fusion introduction to mobile.
At the top of the telecast, Mountain Dew’s Kickstart commercial was so 1975. It was good creative with no hint of mobile.
When the game ended, and the fireworks went off around me in Seattle, all I could think of was the RadioShack ad that said, “The ‘80s called and wants its store back.”
WELL, IT IS 2014 and I want my second-screen experience – and the untapped engagement possibilities that come with it – to come to Super Sunday. Without it, the only thing super are the Seahawks.