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Advertisers can no longer create a commercial then sit back and enjoy; it’s all about real time interaction

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Also see: Super Bowl marketing recap from 2011 | 2010 | 2009

Super Sunday

One of the great things about having your own blog, is that you can create a little platform over time – for free — to broadcast your opinion to the world. The question of course, is getting someone to listen.

For every post where you might go off on a random topic (such as Japanese toilets), you need to work really hard to provide value to your readers, such as providing them a detailed, real-life case study of how to work remotely in a foreign country.

Contrast that with a Super Bowl commercial.

With a cost of $4 million dollars for a 30 second ad and a reach of 100 million people, a lot more is at stake. All eyes are on you, and you will be judged in the court of people’s opinion.

But now add a new twist.

With Twitter now fully grown up – it turns 7 in March – no longer can ad creatives submit their final commercial to the network, then kick back during the game with some nachos and enjoy their work.

Oh no.


A Nielsen study revealed that a third of people using Twitter are tweeting about content they’re watching.

Millions of people will be monitoring, commenting, criticizing, and praising brands on the fly via Twitter during the game.

4 levels of live event social media engagement

1) Create social media awareness
The most basic call to social media is to simply list your accounts at the end of the commercial. One Hyundai spot did this by showing the icons of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The thought process? Hey, if you’re on these social networks, come join us

2) Create hashtags to guide the conversation
CNBC reported that nearly half of the commercials included Twitter hashtags.

Some are merely suggestions, aimed to coordinate tweets around their spot. For example, #NoDrama for Cars.com or BudLight #HereWeGo. These feel like basic branding messages, and ways for the brands to determine how many people were engaged in the campaign.

The more ambitious step is tying it into an overall campaign, and using it as a call to action. This would include Toyota’s #wishgranted, which was used as a contest in the weeks before the Super Bowl, allowing fans to get into the TV spot, and Hyundai’s #pickyourteam, which allows you to win tickets to next year’s game.

Marketingland.com did a great job of tabulating brand use of Twitter hashtags during the Super Bowl.

Speaking of hashtags, there was a gross violation of my most basic rule:
Pick the Hashtag that is the most obvious.

Go ahead and ask 100 people what the Hashtag for the Super Bowl should be. My guess is 95% would say #SuperBowl.

I retweeted Dan Bergstein, who said “Why the george is #SuperBowl47 a trending topic? Are people really Tweeting about SuperBowl 1 through 46 that a distinction had to be made?”


And friend Dave Delaney: Too many hashtags. #superbowl #superbowl47 #SB47 #superbowlXLVII


3) Choose your own story
This is trying to bring it to the next level, where fans actually get to influence the outcome of the ad.

This was done by Coke, who sent people to the web to determine whether cowboys, Mad Max warriors, or showgirls would get to a Coke bottle first. In the end, none of them did for me. Everyone at my party brought up CokeChase.com on our phones, but the website was down and couldn’t handle the traffic.


The problem with realtime action, is sending everyone to one website at once – reports have it at 1.3 million people. While there are ways to test the server load and prepare for this, much like the blackout at the SuperDome, chaos can ensue when circuits get overloaded.

2/6 Update: Found 2 great articles from people smarter than I am:
HighScalability.com: Super Bowl Advertisers Ready for the Traffic? Nope..It’s Lights Out.
Yottaa.com: Coke, SodaStream & the 13 Websites That Crashed During Super Bowl 2013

I also had website issues with Century21.com:


4) Realtime reaction from a social media war room

This is what I want to emphasize today.

Everyone is praising Oreo for creating a brilliant tweet on the fly during the blackout. It was really quite simple… a high resolution, original photo with the tagline “you can still dunk in the dark.”


According to AdAge…

The Oreo graphic was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of the cookie brand’s digital agency, 360i. All the decisions were made in real time quickly because marketers and agency members were sitting together at a “mission control” center, or a social-media war room of sorts… Among those who were there were two brand team members from Oreo, and nearly a dozen creatives, strategists, community managers and social-media listeners.

The tweet was retweeted 10,000 times within one hour.

The praise is warranted, and a few others (Audi, Tide, PBS, and Walgreens) sent out some tweets as well, but the question in the bigger picture is:


I’ve been using this as a case study since 2010, when I had my intern set up in a war room monitoring tweets during Wired’s SXSW event.

Isn’t this what comedians have done for years?

For example, I know when Jimmy Kimmel was hosting the Emmy, he brought in Adam Carolla and some other fast-on-their-feet comedians to be able to write jokes during the show. If Ben Affleck said something weird, or Anne Hathaway has a crazy dress, they can quick feed Jimmy a joke for the next time he comes back on stage.

5 Keys to an Effective Social Media War Room

1) Photos are key
Anyone could come up with a quirky comeback about the incident and throw up the #blackout hashtag, but as we saw, a talented designer at the ready can take existing branding and whip out a decent original image in minutes.

2) Try different things
Oreo also was the only brand to have an Instagram campaign. While they went from 2,200 followers to more than 30,000, it will be interesting to see if they can capitalize on that. Maybe they should have put their URL up on the screen.

3) React in real time
They had a team monitoring every possible incident, so that when something completely unexpected happened – a blackout during the super bowl – they were ready

4) Empower decision-makers
This is something that can’t be run up the flag pole for approval. They had all the decision makers in the room.

5) Get the right team
It sounds like Oreo had 15-20 people in the room. While that seems excessive, for something of this magnitude, it makes sense. For future events, I can see brands bringing in a small team of writers, artists, and specialists just for this purpose.

Prepare your war room!

Quick Hits

Strange Beer
Budweiser Black Crown? Beck’s Sapphire?

Are we done with these crazy beers? Listen, a beer is a beer. We’ve got your basic beer, we’ve got light beer, and we’ve got stuff like Guinness or Oatmeal Stout. We don’t need made up marketing beers. This is beginning to feel like the “clear gravy” trend of the 80s.

Seriously Becks?!?!? “German Sapphire Hops?!?”

Well done, Sketchers. I’m still going to trust my running shoes to Nike or Asics, but at least you made a great commercial. Last year having Joe Montana lamely shilling Shape-Ups was pathetic.

In my former Super Bowl posts, I always gave huge ratings to GoDaddy, for their ability to create buzz, and be the most effective direct marketer during the game.

Someone is always talking about them. You always know what their URL is. You always know what their product is.

So while they got a lot of attention for “The Kiss,” it won’t surprise listeners that I loved their spot for “YourBigIdea.co.” (The wicked Boston accents didn’t hurt).

In that spot, they show exactly why everyone needs to register their URL today and not wait, because someone, somewhere around the world is ready to steal it.

If you find yourself in that situation, go to my website, GetYourNameToday.com to take my free, 7 minute tutorial to register your website.

Till next year…

You might also like:
Previous Super Bowl marketing recaps…
2011 – Getting Facebook status updates in your car is a ridiculous idea. Or is it?
2010 – Missing the point … 10 Super Bowl commercials that were completely irrelevant (and 6 that weren’t)
2009 – Victories and failures of social media in Super Bowl commercials

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