While the upcoming Super Bowl ads are continuing to generate as much buzz as the game itself – even if Planters wisely opted to put its Mr. Peanut campaign on hold following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant last weekend. For many the ads have become as big as the actual game.
“Super Bowl ads have become a cultural staple, sometimes overshadowing the game itself,” explained Robert Rothschild, vice president of global marketing at Smartly.io.
However, unlike the now famous Apple Macintosh “1984” ad that only aired once nationally, which was during Super Bowl XVIII during a break in the third quarter, today’s ads can go viral and will be seen countless times.
“The new frontier for advertising may lie beyond the television screen and in a consumer’s pocket,” added Rothschild. “Fans are already leveraging social media to share their hot takes on the last touchdown, the refs’ bad call and even on the commercials themselves. The emergence of the digital sports fan has created an opportunity for marketers to reach consumers beyond a 30-second slot.”
According to an eMarketer report, U.S. digital ad spending was set to reach $129 billion by the end of 2019 – while Smartly.io’sSocial Advertising Trends for 2020 Report suggested that retail marketers could allocate nearly $65 billion to social media ads this year.
“As we saw with TV ads for Facebook and Alexa, brands are using social media to tease day-of Super Bowl ads, giving their content more airtime and also creating buzz before the big night,” said Rothschild.
The Smartly.io study also noted that 47% of retail marketers plan to increase their use of dynamic ads on social media. Facebook will likely continue to dominate with a 96% adoption rate, compared to 75% for Twitter and 59% on Instagram.
Campaigns Must Be Flexible
However, even the best laid plans need to adjust to real world issues. As noted, Planters opted to “pause” its viral marketing campaign that depicted the “death” of Mr. Peanut just days after it was launched via Twitter out of respect for Kobe Bryant, who was killed last Sunday along with eight others in a helicopter crash.
The fact that Mr. Peanut was involved in a crash was simply hitting too close to home.
“We are saddened by this weekend’s news and Planters has paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy,” Planters told Ad Age via a statement this past Monday.
“I don’t see a problem at all with running the commercial,” said technology industry consultant Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible.
“I am very saddened about the death of Kobe, his daughter, and other passengers, but I don’t feel it has anything to do with the tragic accident,” Sakfo added. “However, being on social media, you, your company, and your brands are all subject to scrutiny by the extremes. If there is even a small public outcry, you have to respond. If there is the smallest segment of your brand following upset and vocal, you need to be sensitive to that faction.”
Safko suggested it be handled like many TV episodes and honor Kobe Bryant and his family.
“They could also reshoot it as a tribute to Kobe,” Safko added. “Or, they can just kill the commercial, which is the most likely outcome – the path of least resistance. Personally, I would run the commercial as is and have multiple press and social media statements ready the touch of the screen that say, we mourn the loss of Kobe and the others and this is in no way meant to be disrespectful or unfeeling.”
Social Media During The Game
Even when there isn’t such controversy, using social media as part of a Super Bowl ad campaign requires a bit of finesse. The game is of course “show day” as eyes are typically glued to the TV. However, more and more viewers opt for the two screen experience and this is why social media remains vital whether it is close game or a blowout.
“During the game itself, ongoing social conversation offers brands a way to break through the noise with carefully tailored social media ads that fit seamlessly into their feed and stories,” said Rothschild. “The push to social is significant and many brands are already shifting focus. In fact, retail marketers are planning to spend more on social advertising this year than last.”