It used to be all about suspense. You’d have to actually wait for the game to see the highly anticipated commercials. The pressure was fierce. One viewing would determine the difference between glory and the bin of forgettable.
Sure you knew who was going to advertise, in what quarter their ads would run, even the celebrities starring in them. But rarely did you get to see the commercials in advance. Leaking them was the last thing an agency or client wanted to do. Mum was the word.
Well, this year is quite different. YouTube has dozens of so-called Doritos Super Bowl spots, a few of which will actually air on the game. Chevy has a bevy of spots on its Facebook page. Pepsi, too, has released ads in advance. And we’ve seen teasers from the likes of Audi and Go Daddy.
But the big winner, at least pre-game, is Volkswagen. The perennial award-winning advertiser — they do great work regardless of the agency — has released The Force, a warm, clever little story about the kind of family that buys a Passat. They live in a comfortable house, have a laid back dog, resist hovering over their imaginative child and possess a child-like attitude themselves. In a 60-second story that says nothing about the car and lots about its owners, we get awesome music, an adorable kid that could be a boy or a girl, cool parents and a happy ending that manages to avoid sappiness.
But more importantly we get conversation, lots of it. A search on Google reveals page after page of press and blog coverage. As of this writing the spot had received well over 12 million views on YouTube. And on Brand Bowl, our site for analyzing Twitter reaction to Super Bowl ads, The Force was an early leader in views, chatter and positive sentiment.
Clearly this will change how Super Bowl spots get released from now on. Screw the wait-until-game-day strategy. And perhaps even the teasers. If you have something good, let it out of the bag. The conversation, the links, the Facebook posts and the Twitter chatter make it the smarter way to go.
In fact these are the new rules:
- Invite participation: By releasing a spot early, VW actually gives viewers a role in the propagation of the spot. They feel as if they’re part of both the conversation and the experience.
- Re-think timing: Just as destination TV is long gone, why not the same for advertising, even Super Bowl ads. Got a spot? Why not make it available on consumer’s terms, not just yours.
- Consumers are the new medium: The Super Bowl gets a lot of viewers. But in the end, your most valuable medium are the consumer and users who talk about you, pass on your content and get credit from friends for doing so. Embrace them.
Kudos for VW for a good spot and the right timing.