The Super Bowl commercials have long been a celebrated tradition, as celebrated and anticipated even by as many as the game itself. With such a highly anticipated, massive social ceremony like the Super Bowl raking in fountains of attention and revenue for brands for so long now, it’s no wonder that social media has already become so engrained in that ceremony- as much so now as the commercials themselves.
The Super Bowl, in many ways, is the quintessential example of how the evolution of television to digital is not only ongoing but in many ways, has become symbiotic. That is, to think of it as an evolution from television to digital or cable to the internet or as a competition between these mediums is not necessarily accurate. Nor is it even necessarily a matter of competition between social media platforms on the internet. As director of digital engagement at agency Grupo Gallegos describes in this Adweek article “It’s not a matter of Snapchat versus Facebook or YouTube versus Twitter as much as it is about Snapchat and Facebook and YouTube and Twitter being the primary places where people are sharing, engaging and communally experiencing the events unfolding in front of them on their other screen—the TV.”
While people are watching the Super Bowl and the commercials, they will be talking about it on their mobile devices with friends and family through social media. Marketers have long realized this and have been working to use this to drive engagement. The drive for big brands to take away as much value as they can from the Super Bowl has developed a competition among them. A competition of creativity.
One of the most memorable examples of Super Bowl ads from the past that have pushed the creative bar higher for televised marketing is the 1984 Apple commercial. The concept of the 1984 commercial was more like the basis of a short film than a product ad, the product itself not even being featured or physically present. In many ways, this is like the event of the Super Bowl ads themselves; creating their own event and narrative generated by the Super Bowl.
In a previous blog, it was discussed how entertainment and narrative continues to grow more popular in modern advertising, the digital landscape only further fostering this trend. Like releasing teasers and trailers months in advance of the release of major blockbusters, Super Bowl ads are not surprisingly adopting a similar tactic in recent years. It has now become standard practice for brands to release teasers of commercials ahead of time to increase engagement.
Like the event of the Super Bowl led to the event of the Super Bowl ad, now the marketing for the marketing is developing in a similar fashion. Each brand trying to outdo the other, upping the ante of creativity to try to grab as much of the Super Bowl spotlight as they possibly can. Social media is more cognizant of the opportunities available for digital marketing than it has been in the years past. Therefore, everything involving advertising the Super Bowl on social media has become monetized. It would seem this is just part of the overall push for social media platforms like Facebook to force digital marketers to invest money in advertising on their platforms, causing organic reach to steadily fall.
The need to push the bar leads marketers to new challenges like the live commercial, which Snickers will attempt this year featuring Star Wars actor Adam Driver. Even a live 90-second documentary by “Deepwater Horizon” director Peter Berg will air in the first slot following the end of the game. In a way, they are acting like the audience they are marketing to in the way that they view and discuss and interact with the event from multiple different perspectives, social media platforms and devices.