Editor's Note: It’s time once again to hang out with our agency pals around the virtual water cooler. The conversation? Predictions, prognostications and general smack talk as we look ahead to the ad industry mega-event known as the Super Bowl. See what the ad pros say you can expect to see this Sunday.
Greg Smith, Chief Creative Officer, The VIA Agency:
This year's Super Bowl advertising should see a marked change from the past few years. With a long and contentious election cycle finally behind us, and signs of an improved economy trickling in, I think we have moved past any messaging that is political or nationalist. So I don't think you will see ads like "Half Time in America" during this year's game. Or any ads, for that matter, that talk about coming back and persevering. People want to hear that we are living in good times, not reminded that we still have a ways to get there. To that end, expect even more humor than usual at this year's game. On another note, the whole user-generated angle has lost its buzz. Doritos and others will still have successful spots created by consumers to varying degrees, but the novelty of how they came into being has worn off. The fact is that anyone with access to the Internet knows that there are talented, funny people out there (along with a lot of whack-os). It's no longer something brands will tout.
Stephen Niedzwiecki, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, YARD:
Advertisers will continue to tap into consumer’s sense of nostalgia, like Downy did in 2012 with Mean Joe Greene, Honda with Ferris Bueller, and VW’s The Force. Also, more women will be watching the big game this year than ever before. Last year saw an increase in female viewers, and we can expect this year to be no different. As the heads of the household and key decision-maker in most family’s purchase behavior, this represents a prime opportunity for advertisers to reach this highly influential audience. And finally, advertisers will continue to leverage social media in more creative and inventive ways than ever before. From pre-releasing ads, to crowd sourcing, to celebrating unsung, self-made YouTube celebrities---brands are still integrating with social more than ever.
Tom Denari, President, Young & Laramore:
Since the Super Bowl is basically the world’s largest focus group, (aka: what is widely considered the worst methodology to evaluate an ad), we’ll continue to see the tried-and-true trinity: animals, kids, and babes. Focus groups love them, along with broad, low-brow humor, which will dominate. But, since Chrysler’s surprisingly serious tone was the most talked-about campaign last year, we’ll also likely see at least one brand attempt something serious and inspiring. A concept that is grand and thoughtful can often stand out among the din of the shouting, clowning, bombastic ads.
The newest wave of activity designed to help stretch the $4 million-per-30-second price tag will be encouraging consumers to interact with another screen, whether desktop, mobile, or tablet. It’s all about squeezing every drop from this expensive, one-time media buy, whether before or after the game. Toyota will be using Twitter and Instagram. Paramount Pictures is asking viewers to download an app. Others, like Coke, Doritos and Audi, are simply encouraging consumers to vote for which ad airs—or even how an ad should end—after the game.
Bekah Sirrine, Creative Director, 72andSunny:
Lots of celebrities, longer formats, and added social layers will keep people entertained. Spots are already being leaked online to hijack conversations and seed engagement in advance of the big game. And… since almost half of the audience watching the Super Bowl will be women, I'm optimistic that more brands will have the imagination to move beyond hot babes and old-fashioned stereotypes.
Mike Law, SVP, Group Director, National Video Activation, Carat USA:
In Super Bowl XX, William “The Refrigerator” Perry was handed the ball at the one-yard line, which pretty much ensured he would score. Big opportunity, deal sealed, touchdown! Imagine if there was a penalty and it didn’t count – all that work for nothing. Super Bowl advertisers need to make sure they don’t get called for a penalty.
I have always believed that the Super Bowl presents a unique transition moment for marketers. While the NFL season is coming to an end and crowning a winner, the game is also what many brands use to launch their new “season.” Commercials will be deemed winners and losers almost immediately, but the focus for marketers is in the weeks and months following the game.
As ad rates continue to rise, the cost of the ads needs to be considered far beyond the cost of the in-game unit. The ability to leverage the mass reach of your commercial time, not just in the game, but before and after, is going to determine whether the investment will deliver. The real value is filling out your bought, owned and earned strategy months in advance, asking yourself “how can I convert an entertaining message to the masses into a dynamic conversation with a potential consumer?” Whether it be the use of social media before the game, tweeting during the game, an experiential play, or a strong follow-up media campaign after the game, there’s no doubt that a Super Bowl ad can help define a product’s success---but it is the overarching strategy that will ensure success.
When you watch the game on Sunday, pay close attention to the room you are in. People seem to reset their mind every 30 seconds to see a new ad. Commercial clutter is a non-existent issue just once a year on Super Bowl Sunday. Consumers don’t want to see the commercial breaks end (unlike when they watch 22-minute sitcom re-runs that last 40 minutes). Brands are given the time to state their case, make us laugh or cry, and show us a cool product. The key: Don’t let that message evaporate after your ad runs. Make us remember it and bring it to life the next day and beyond.
The 2013 Super Bowl on CBS will see about 50 in-game ads play in front of more than 110 million enthusiastic viewers---and that doesn’t count online video before and after the game. Creative, media, and brand egos aside, the real winners will be those product teams that develop a media and screen agnostic strategy to ensure that the story resonates far after (and maybe even before) Sunday. The goal is drive people to engage with your brand and ultimately do what you set out to do: sell a product and create lifelong brand ambassadors.
Michael Hart, Founder & Creative Co-Chair, mono
We believe the best-performing brands will think about their Super Bowl presence as an experience, not just a 30-second spot. Emotion and experience are playing a greater role in Super Bowl advertising, a shift that’s been happening for a few years now, unlike more "traditional" Super Bowl advertising that focuses on being funny and entertaining. This paradigm shift is continuing as advertisers realize that evoking emotions can provide a deeper understanding of their brands and products. It is important to get people to feel something.
The Super Bowl itself has evolved into an experience that people share with a room full of family and friends. More emotional and experience-focused advertising also resonates more deeply with this group as a whole.