5th Quarter: Steeling the Show

100 Million viewers tuned in on Sunday evening to view a classic clash of the titans. They were treated to a record-setting interception by James Harrison, a heated 4th quarter rally by both teams, and a flood of new commercials with animals. Priced at $3M per 30-second spot, NBC sold a record $206M in advertising for the big game. In this economy that kind of spending reminds me of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass go for broke! Who says traditional channels are dead?

Some advertisers, such as Pedigree, have embraced the multi-channel experience of today’s consumers coordinating campaigns across traditional and digital domains. But even for those that haven’t explicitly gone digital yet, many consumers are taking them there anyway. Thousands of viewers were already blogging and tweeting about the new flock of commercials before the Steelers finished their Dom Perignon. At Crimson Hexagon, we wanted to know who successfully made the leap from mainstream to digital buzz. A look at both beverages and foods shows that results were mixed.

Running with the Clydesdales

Online Buzz for Beverage Brands
Online Buzz for Beverage Brands

Anheuser-Busch once again led the pack in buying eight spots (four for Bud and four for BudLight). Given its long history of Super Bowl advertising, it’s no wonder that the buzz for Bud actually started ahead of the game, and has risen to nearly eight times the pre-game level.

In the standing battle between Coke and Pepsi (each invested in three spots), Pepsi appears to have made the bigger splash. Pepsi more than doubled online buzz, bringing it even (and heading higher) than Coke, which has seen minimal lift over its already strong buzz presence.

But the real winner within the drinks category so far has been Sobe Life Water. In the first two days, Sobe’s one commercial (featuring cameos by NFL players dancing with lizards in a 3D variant on Swan Lake) netted them buzz roughly five times their pre-game level. As if NFL players in tutus weren’t enough, Sobe’s choice to make this ad 3D generated extra anticipatory buzz the entire week leading into the Super Bowl.

Running for the Border

Online Buzz for Foos & Snack Brands
Online Buzz for Food & Snack Brands

Now perhaps it was because Taco Bell ignored the rule about including animals, but I find it pretty surprising that their Speed Date commercial hasn’t noticeably moved the needle. Maybe the offline buzz simply moved too fast to be caught online. Or maybe Draft FCB will be rethinking its approach to digital this week.

In other junk food news chips appear to be highly bloggable. Cheetos has seen five times more buzz than before the Super Bowl. But Doritos’ two commercials led the pack with a 10 times jump in online chatter. How’d they do it? Well, they tapped into both the traditional Power of Creative Crunch and the wisdom of their chip-eating crowd. Who could have predicted such success would come from actively engaging your customers?

Booth Review
All this leads to some tough questions for agencies and brand managers who participated in this year’s Super Ad Bowl. Brows are furrowed as they digest the results of their commercials and turn their eyes towards managing the ongoing campaigns.

For the majority of brands that saw a big boost in buzz, kudos are warranted. But now that consumers are talking, the questions become:

  • What are they talking about? (Was it same as last year, or – better than Apple’s1984 commercialî?)
  • Are the topics discussed consistent with our goals for the brand? (Are our brand attributes performing as expected? How’s our positive share of voice vs. our competitors?)
  • Who was talking and in which channels? (Was it bloggers, or were tweets flying around like paper airplanes in front of a substitute teacher?)

For those left in the dust, the question is ¬Where’s the buzz®? Perhaps their target audience somehow hasn’t heard about this whole social media thing yet (I give Frosted Flakes a little more leeway on this than Taco Bell). Or perhaps there’s only so much buzz a brand can take – had Coke already reached an optimal amount of ongoing buzz?

For the few standing on the sidelines, the question is whether it was worth saving the $3M per spot. Did you miss a chance to Steel the show?

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