Advertisers Spoil the Surprise Before Big Game

Feb 04, 2011
George Anderson

The one point in time during the year when advertisers
can pretty much count on television viewers actually watching commercials is
during the broadcast of the Super Bowl. In fact, studies have shown a large
percentage of people viewing commercials as the number one or two reason they
watch the broadcast. So with all that anticipation built up as part of an event,
why would anyone want to let the cat out of the bag beforehand?

According to
a New York Times report, advertisers are looking to build
buzz for their spots by showing a portion or all of their commercials online
before the game.

HomeAway, a vacation rental company and Super Bowl advertiser,
is one of those businesses looking to get a head start.

"Last year, we thought, ‘We ought to keep this close to the vest
and make it a big surprise,’ " Brian Sharples, chief executive
of HomeAway, told the Times.

The spot in last year’s game "exceeded" expectations,
according to Mr. Sharples. "This year, we said, ‘Let’s put
it out there.’" HomeAway’s new commercial can be seen on the company’s website.

HomeAway like
Best Buy, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Motorola, Snickers and others is also using
social media to draw attention to its commercial pre-game.

Timothy Calkins,
clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern
University, told the Times, "There
are so many spots in a Super Bowl that it can be hard to stand out. A lot of
the strategy is now focused on how you position yourself in advance of the
game, because if you wait till the last minute, it makes it harder to break

Motorola is one of those companies looking to build buzz before
the game, but is holding back on showing its full spot of its Xoom tablet computer
to keep the level of anticipation high.

A USA Today story discusses how
brands are using social media to create added buzz before, during and after
the game.

"It’s cosmically different, because it’s not just a TV experience, but
a multichannel, multiplatform, deeply social experience," Shiv Singh,
digital media chief at PepsiCo Americas Beverages told USA Today.

Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay, told the paper, "People
are not working at the office like they used to. Digital space is helping to
re-create that human behavior of talking at the water cooler."

Discussion Questions: What are your thoughts on promoting commercials intended for the Super Bowl before the game? How is social media changing brand marketing before, during and after big consumer events such as the Super Bowl?

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7 Comments on "Advertisers Spoil the Surprise Before Big Game"

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Fabien Tiburce
Fabien Tiburce
10 years 3 months ago

I read somewhere that 20 years ago, you could reach 80% of the population using only 4 channels (TV, print magazines, billboards and radio). Today, to reach 80%, you have to use 20 channels. The proliferation of channels (Twitter,Facebook,specialized digital magazines,apps that only work on a certain type of device) has made it difficult for marketers to get their money’s worth using a single channel like television. So I am not surprised that marketers are “spoiling” the Super Bowl ads by getting the message out early, across different channels and potentially different viewers.

Ryan Mathews
10 years 3 months ago

I understand I’m a minority (possibly of one) here but for me the “big game” this weekend is the start of the Six Nation rugby championship. I have no intention of breaking my record of having never watched a televised Super Bowl.

Prejudices noted, I have to say I’m amazed at how Americans have become convinced it’s their patriotic duty to watch ads and — this year — to watch trailers for ads.

Put me down as a dinosaur on this. I don’t like ads (especially for television programs) at the movies and I certainly don’t buy into the hype around Super Bowl ads.

Clever marketing — you bet!

Makes you worry about the future of our society — without a doubt.

I guess I should be on the side of the marketers as they herd the sheep to the digital slaughter, but once and awhile somebody has to take the animals’ side.

Carol Spieckerman
10 years 3 months ago

These days, movie teasers pretty much hit all of the best parts of a movie so you go to the movie to see how they are all tied together (or you just stay home, thankful for the warning). Do we really need commercial teasers? I think not.

Charles P. Walsh
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 3 months ago

It makes sense and it’s been done before.

Retailers would guard their Black Friday items as if they were state secrets and then wikileak sites like would leak them out ahead of time.

Retailers used to despise the practice and then came to embrace it, eventually releasing teasers themselves days and or weeks ahead of time.

Why not follow success?

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 3 months ago

I think I speak for a great many of us when I say I’d like to put my arm around Ryan’s shoulder in an act of male bonding (at least as for what I’m NOT doing, I prefer giving blood in conventional ways too much to watch the rugby): with the SB, enough already! As an Old Blue, I’m happy for Aaron, but I’ve had faaaar too much of “Big Ben” and seeing everyone and their (basically uninvolved) brother trying to horn in on the action…Monday can’t come soon enough.

Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 3 months ago

While I understand the impulse to generate advance buzz, I think this is a mistake. Super Bowl commercials work because of the shock factor–anyone who has seen a roomful of sports fans stopping their trips to the bathroom or kitchen to check out a clever ad know what I’m talking about. These ads generate a lot of buzz after the fact and are ultimately better remembered and have more impact. Just ask Betty White.

Kai Clarke
10 years 3 months ago

Too early ruins the surprise. SB commercials are all about impact, surprise and the last minute rush of new information that catches the viewer off-guard. It is what the consumer was not expecting that makes everything so much better in a great commercial. The SB commercial must make an impact and be memorable in just a few showings. After that, the share of eyeballs that the commercial generates declines dramatically and so does the impact. Surprise, surprise, surprise; just like Gomer Pyle used to say….


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