So, which brand won the Super Bowl last night?
Early on in the game I was pretty sure it would be Volkswagen. The Little Darth Vader spot was excellent creative – so good, in fact, that it hides the fact that it's a yawn of a car launch, with no product news.
Plus, it was a brilliant piece of marketing: the brand team was smart to release the longer-length commercial in advance of the game to build buzz. For many consumers, the :30 actually became reminder advertising. I can imagine that at a lot of Super Bowl parties someone shouted "hey, be quiet everybody –- that Volkswagen commercial is on."
Watch for other marketers to borrow this tactic – and build on it – in future Super Bowls.
Still, as great as all that was, in my opinion VW didn't bring home the prize.
Madison Avenue Gets It Wrong, Hollywood Gets It Right
There's a lot at stake for agencies and clients running commercials on the Super Bowl. So it's not surprising that some of the work misses the mark. This year it seemed worse than most years.
Others aimed so high that my guess is that the average consumer just scratched their head and went to the kitchen for beer. I'm not sure what point Audi actually made with anybody during their beautifully crafted but strategically obtuse "Old Luxury Prison" commercials.
Hollywood, by contrast, seemed to me to be pitch-perfect. On Twitter, @marksilva said it exactly right: "hollywood is beating silicon valley in this year's #brandbowl. Their ads entertain, tell stories you understand, compel you to act "."
The Great Brandbowl Experiment
Here, too, VW seemed to come out on top with Chrysler only a field goal shy of winning.
But, as terrific as Brandbowl is, I think the real social media winner was a brand that didn't run a millisecond's worth of time on the Super Bowl: Amazon MP3.
Amazon MP3: Real-Time Marketing, Real-Time ROI
What Amazon did was simple, and brilliant.
After every Super Bowl commercial that used licensed music, @AmazonMP3 Tweeted the name of the song and a link to buy the song on Amazon.
This may be the most spectacularly productive use of social media I have ever seen. Commercial break after commercial break, Amazon successfully converted a dozen or more $3 million dollar TV buys for other brands into an engine for Amazon e-commerce.
I'd love to see the ROI numbers for this. I'll be they're amazing. (Amazon, are you willing to share?)
Harnessing The Feedback Loop
As I've written before here, the future isn't either traditional or digital – it's a Feedback Loop between old and new media.
Tagging a Super Bowl commercial with a Facebook URL instead of a brand URL is easy, but it doesn't do anything new. Remember when everybody thought it was huge news when the first brand tagged their spot with an AOL Keyword?
The real money is in the Feedback Loop. What I love about what Amazon did for the Super Bowl is that they placed themselves squarely in the middle of it and collected the money.
Admittedly, that's a whole lot easier for an e-commerce company to do than a brand. And ROI in e-commerce is a lot easier to measure there than it is at brand HQ.
But my point is, there should be a lot of ways for brands to look at consumer behavior across TV and digital and find where the opportunity lies.
Who will be the first consumer brand to get this right?
Tom Cunniff began his career as a copywriter at traditional agencies, founded an interactive agency in 1994 and now works on the marketing side creating and integrating traditional and interactive. All of Tom's opinions are entirely his own. Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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