Teasing is the new Superbowl trend
We’re only a week away from the one day of the year when people who don’t work in advertising actually pay attention to it. And once again there is probably more buzz about the imminent advertising than about the game itself.
It appears the entire advertising industry is taking its lead from Volkswagen. Two years ago the auto-maker and its agency became one of the first to leverage the power of social media by introducing its Darth Vader spot a full week before the game, attracting many millions of views before the actual airing. Fortunately the spot lived up to the hype and emerged one of the game’s favorites for many viewers.
Last year, hoping to emulate VW’s success, a number of other brands released spots early, among them Coke, Audi and Honda. By doing so they garnered pre-game buzz and took advantage of the web to show off longer versions of the spots than actually aired. Of course pre-game YouTube views came with a price – the diminished anticipation and surprise that originally made SuperBowl spots so special.
In 2012, however, while everyone was racing to capitalize on VW’s 2011 success, VW held out and ran only a teaser. Which leads us to this year. So far, that’s mostly what we’re seeing. Go Daddy has released some actual spots but most brands are simply advertising their advertising. Mercedes Benz gives us Kate Upton and ejaculating hoses. (That’s the YouTube version; on air teasers are actually better.) Taco Bell debuts a Grandpa gone wild. And VW is back with Internet memes. All I can say is I hope the creative improves when the real spots show up.
One slightly different approach is Coke Chase. The teaser ad offers you multiple outcomes and lets you vote for the ending of the commercial: who will win the race across the desert for the holy grail in a bottle? Showgirls (my choice), bikers or cowboys? Looks like fun and it’s simple and easy to engage with and by definition builds anticipation for the final spot. It’s better than most teasers as it not only alerts you to the commercial, but vests you in the outcome.
Seems our need to know, know now, and know first trumps suspense and anticipation along with the sensation of simultaneously sharing an experience with everyone else for the first time. At least when it has to do with advertising. I asked a number of industry folks their thoughts. Here’s what I got.
“Pre-release feels desperate. I feel the sweaty palms of the CMO trying to get views to justify the $4 million media buy.”
Rob Schwartz, CCO, TBWA/Chiat Day
“Pre-release for sure. No need to hold out.”
Pete Favat, CCO, Arnold Worldwide
“I think they always should (pre-release).”
Shiv Singh, Global Head of Digital, PepsiCo
“The more people pre-release, the less the work stands out.”
Tim Leake, Chief Creative, Hyper Island
“Yes, but in a way that teases without giving away the whole enchilada.”
David Baldwin, Lead Guitar/Founder, Baldwin&
“Pre-release if you have another 1984. If not keep your mouth shut. High expectations will kill you.”
Ernie Schenck, Free Radical Creative Director, Columnist Communication Arts
“When you’re advertising your advertising, things are weird.”
Brian Morrissey, Editor, Digiday
No shortage of opinions. It’s advertising after all. What’s yours?
Besides football, the Super Bowl is about ads. We wonder how brands will utilize their multimillion dollar media buys. Brands could cannibalize their ads by showing part of them before the Super Bowl. It would make sense to have a teaser if, for example, one showed part 1 to be continued or wanted viewers to vote on the ad on game day. With so much daily information, it's good to have suspense.
CarolWeinfeld clweinfeld It's almost as if the suspense would be more relaxing. Free us from feeling as if we have to engage with it all before it happens.
I just wish that CMO's and agencies would care more about their creative product the other 364 days of the year. Maybe if they did, people wouldn't hate advertising so much and would watch the work rather than fast-forward through it.
StephenGill No kidding. For some reason they believe that entertainment only works one day a year.
It does feel weird, as Morrissey says. But the math makes sense. 111 million people watched the Super Bowl last year, for a record, and those numbers are going up. That audience is a given. So pre-releasing the spot online to get another 11 million or so (Kate is already up to 4 MM views on YouTube) adds another 10% kick. I hate the trend, just as I don't like movie trailers that give away the plot, but like Christmas promotions starting in October I don't think we can fight it.
benkunz I noticed the Kate numbers. Are they for Kate or the car. Personally I like the car better. Anyway there are solid metrics such as those you refer to. But how do we, or can we, measure more qualitative ones. If it is possible for a non pre-released spot to dominate, i.e. Chrysler two years ago (granted it was long) is there added value in that? Are all views created equal? in this media fragmented world, on the other hand, is it absolutely necessary? Not to mention that with the never ending onslaught of content do we need to extend the SB from a day to a month, with pre-release, day of and follow up engagements? Sometimes it seems that the ad industry alone can generate 1 million YouTube views then convince itself it created a viral phenomenon.