Super Bowl and Social Media

February 7, 2011

Last night on television, if you were watching the Super Bowl with the rest of the modern world, you saw some great entertainment. And the game wasn’t bad either. What I’m getting at is the ads that ran during the game were, again, more interesting than many of the plays and players on the field.

But does this mean anything to a social media audience focused on Tweeting and Facebooking during the game? And to what extent were the brands advertising during the Super Bowl really adept at using social media to further their brand presence?

In the grand scheme of things, there are any one of a hundred repositories for last night’s ads. They have already been dissected and critiqued, and now you can watch them all without worrying about spilling salsa on the floor or struggling to hear the dialog over the din of NFL fans all around you.

Here’s a link to all the ads that ran last night – while these are mostly safe for work, the sound is turned up on them. Best viewed while wearing headphones.

Let’s take a quick sprint through my thoughts on a few ads, you’re welcome to leave your comments in the comments – cryptic, huh?

VW. I think they won the hearts and minds of folks with the Darth Vader ad. Then they repulsed all the women and some of the men with their New Beetle ad. I liked both. They told a story and therefore engaged the audience. From a social media perspective, not much was going on here. Like all ads, you can go to the company site and re-live the fun. But I didn’t notice any specific SocMed tie in.

WAIT, before you jump down my throat, I confess that there was huge buzz about Darth Vader before the Super Bowl airing of the commercial from folks who saw it on YouTube. That is social and probably served to get people amped to see the spot again in the real game instead of on their Mac. But I didn’t see a Twitter address or Facebook page referenced.

Next up, who among us doesn’t dream of making it big and scoring as only a few have before us? That’s right, I’m talking about the few people who have been singled out as Wheat Thin Winners. That’s likely not the name of the campaign, but I think it’s catchy. Simply put, if you tweet out to Wheat Thins, you might get a visit from the Wheat Thins team. It’s not as exciting to me as a visit from Pepper Ph.D., but it’s still cool.

They had an ad during the pregame and they did a lot to engage via SocMed by forming the campaign around Twitter. Fun stuff.

Other ads like the local Sealy Posturepedic one – see it right here in HD – and GoDaddy were fun and racy; the Snickers ad with Rosanne was funny; and the Pepsi ads were great with physical humor. I even liked the plethora of car ads from Chevy, Kia and Hyundai. But the one promotion I couldn’t understand was the Focus Rally Pre-Kick buy.

The premise is that teams of drivers will engage with fans and friends via social media to accomplish scavenger-hunt challenges around the country to try and win $100,000. So, Ford’s decision to leave Twitter, Facebook and any hashtag OFF of their Pre-Kick promotion and all ads last night made me scratch my head. Maybe the advertising team didn’t get the message or maybe the race isn’t really about social media.

Whatever the case, the sound in the ads was horrible and you couldn’t hear what the actors were saying. I think they were asking people to help support them and follow them as they drive around the country…but the background music and quick cuts were too much for anyone to make sense of in two short ads.

*In the interest of transparency, I was asked to audition as a contestant as were a number of other social media specialists. You can read a recap of the audition process here on Quora.

Ultimately, the more I think about the ads and the social aspect of the game, it pretty much measured up to what a lot of people are still saying about social media and the general population. The majority of folks don’t know Twitter from kitty litter and spend a lot more time IRL than those of us who are paid to advise organizations on how to engage using these new tools.

As I bang on these keys, I can think of many ways the ads that ran last night – even for Budweiser and Coke – could have leveraged a social component. But at $3Million an ad, maybe you need to keep things simple and hope that people are motivated enough by your creative to go look at your Website or search for you on Facebook.

What do you think? Did you like the ads? Who do you think dropped the ball – aside from Groupon? What were your favorites?

Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!