For decades the Super Bowl has been the centerpiece of advertising campaigns for large corporations in the United States. These companies spend millions of dollars for the airtime and production of these 30-second or 1 minute commercials. The productions are spectacular, often employing the top celebrities of popular culture. In the past, these ads were kept very secret. Part of the appeal was the anticipation leading up to the airing of the ads. Some companies went so far as to produce 2 ads but not letting it known which ad would be aired.
Companies have changed their strategy due to social media. They now realize that it is key to be part of the conversation sooner than later. As stated in the Guardian’s article “The ads of Super Bowl 2014: a popularity contest with puppies” by Tom Morton, http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/feb/03/super-bowl-commercials-ads-review-puppies
“This was the first Super Bowl where the ads were already in the public domain weeks in advance of the event”. Not only were the ads in discussion before the Super Bowl, they encouraged it during the game. Morton goes on to explain how many of the advertisers used Twitter to promote online incentives and contests during the game to further the reach of their ads.
Social media also affected the content of the ads. Historically these ads followed the traditional advertising model of hard selling their product or service. They relied on a bold spectacle to promote brand awareness. The point was to get people talking about the ads around the water coolers of America the next day. This year showed a change in the role of these ads. Now they are only a part of the ongoing conversation that is taking place on social media. There was a major shift in the content of the ads. Many of the ads didn’t even mention a product. Instead they were awareness messages for such causes as cancer survivors and (RED) TM the Global Fund to support AIDS programs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vhMpXMPvdU
Why is this? Simon Mainwaring states in his article “The 7-stage Evolution of a Socially Responsible Brand” http://mashable.com/2011/04/22/csr-company-stages/, “The payoff for corporate engagement with customers has risen dramatically as a result of social media”. It is more important to get customers involved with your cause than it is to make them aware of the virtues of your product. Let’s face it; a conversation about making the world a better place will last a lot longer on social media than one about whether our pistachios taste better or not.