Without Commercials, The Super Bowl Isn’t

A group of us flew down here to New Zealand for a large commercial shoot.  The weather’s nice, the country’s beautiful and the production team is very buttoned up.  Which is why we had the afternoon of Super Bowl Monday free to catch the Big Game™ at a local pub (Four Nations, Auckland, NZ).  Watching the game on a sunny afternoon certainly changed the experience but not half as much as watching it on an ESPN Live feed where the network fills the commercial breaks exclusively with ESPN promos.

That’s right: no Budweiser ads.  No Dockers, no Snickers, no Coke–just promos for rugby and soccer matches.  When the commercials came on, the crowd just headed for the rest rooms or the bar for another pint of Kilkenny’s (lovely stuff, that).

Without commercials, the Super Bowl is decidedly less Super.  It’s not nearly as engaging.  When it ended, people talked about the game for a while before quickly moving on.  There were no debates about which spot was best, what was a dumb investment, and who got hosed by unfortunate placement.  I’ll probably catch up later by watching them online but it’s not nearly the same as hearing a crowded bar erupt at a good joke or loudly pan a weak execution.

DVR technology allows people to skip past commercials and data shows many do–but they frequently rewind if they see something interesting.  And the Super Bowl majors in commercials that at least attempt to be something interesting.  Just this past Friday, a page one poll on USA Today claimed that 51% of viewers enjoy the commercials most about watching the Super Bowl on TV.  I’d have to agree.

Chalk a big W in the score column for traditional media.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

PS:  Do yourself a favor and read Ross Buchanan’s comment to this post.  Frankly, I wish I’d written it.

Marketing in the Age of Advocacy

nocluesignIt was all so much simpler for marketers a few years back…

Anyone with deep pockets could publicize their story the way they wanted to spin it with mass marketing, certain that they would be heard without having to really worry about opposing points of view.  Those with the most money owned the media.

But then came Web 2.0 and the rise of opinion as a mass channel and suddenly, that privilege disappeared.  As Clay Shirky points out so well, we now live in an era where people can organize without organizations and insure their POV’s are heard.  This is a sea change in the marketplace.

This morning’s USA Today features a story about how the dairy industry is rolling out an effort to protect chocolate milk in school lunchrooms.  Wary of being lumped in with sugary-sodas, they want to separate their product from the backlash surrounding those drinks.

Now I don’t know where you come down on the issue of chocolate milk in schools–candidly, I haven’t really formulated much of an opinion on that issue myself.  But what really jumped out at me was how one strong voice against this movement came from “obesity activists.”  “Obesity activists”: that’s an interesting career path.  I’m not sure what one does to qualify as an obesity activist but clearly anyone who fits that label comes down hard against chocolate milk in schools.  And if they have any organizing powers at all, they will be heard and their arguments will be taken seriously.

Again, we see brands are opinions and if we are to influence that opinion, we will have to employ new tactics.  And another marketer will have to adjust their efforts to recognize and respect our new playing field.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79