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Beyond Super Bowl LI: More Than What’s on TV


If we’re being honest, the Super Bowl is basically a national holiday — especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to work in marketing. While I was disappointed to see yet another Super Bowl loss for my hometown Falcons, I was particularly enthralled by the tone and connection brands were building with their ads this year.

A day later, Facebook offered some interesting insights as to how ads were talked about in addition to the action on the field. After all, in 2017, we shouldn’t be measuring the success of one TV spot — we should be measuring the success of how it drives online conversation and consumer action.

According to Facebook, Audi’s “Daughter” ad was the most talked about TV spot airing during the game. It had something more to say than “buy my product,” which represented an overall theme this year.

Ads that did well challenged the audience to think a little bit and waded cautiously into the political conversation. Of course, not everything was political. People were also talking about Lady Gaga’s halftime performance. I mean, how could you not?

This year also showed that you can push boundaries a little and challenge your audience. I was interested to see that brands wanted to participate in the charged conversations happening in the country the last few months. It’s good they’re willing to, because whether you like it or not, those conversations are powering social media.

Other brands found success without the large TV investment. Verizon didn’t air a spot this year unlike competitors Spring and T-Mobile, but they still found a way to participate and respond to their competitors’ criticisms without paying for pricey airtime.

It’s also interesting that more than 90 percent of interactions on Facebook took place on mobile. We’re always challenging clients on the importance that mobile plays in big cultural events. People aren’t just watching from their couch. They’re at a friend’s house or at a bar, and they’re staying connected. TV might be the start of the conversation, but mobile usage springs consumers into action.

One miss on the digital front was the 84 Lumber ad. It was a beautiful, well-crafted commercial that looked more like a movie than a Super Bowl spot. It succeeded in that people wanted to see the full ad on their site. Unfortunately, it was too many people for their bandwidth to handle, and their server crashed.

There’s a significant lesson to be learned here: if you’re going to lead people to an online experience, it has to work. Fortunately, 84 Lumber also made sure to have the full spot ready on all social channels which most likely helped fuel conversation about their ad even more than it would have on their own site.

The insights and ads from this year left marketers with some valuable lessons. Most importantly, read the room — literally. Realize a lot of people will be watching in crowded areas with kids running around and drunk people (hopefully not running around). They can’t pay attention to something that’s complicated or has a lot of pieces to it.

It should go without saying at this point, but know that the online experience is incredibly important. It’s a close No. 2 to the traditional TV experience. For an event like the Super Bowl, online teams need to be synced up and ready to go. Brands that took their investment seriously seeded content before the Super Bowl or had content ready as soon as their spot aired and continue to promote their spot in the days that follow. They took advantage of the offline/online experience.

Brands can’t just buy a Super Bowl ad anymore, they have to also continue to promote that ad after the big game to continue the engagement and build more of a connection with consumers once Sunday is just a memory.

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