Almost Better than the Game

Yep. We’re talking about Super Bowl Commercials.

Can you believe we’re approaching one of the best weekends of the entire year. Friends and family getting together with food and beverage, huddled around the internet broadcast of dozens of hilarious commercials. To top it off, I hear the 49ers are finally back in the Super Bowl to play against the Chiefs this weekend, too.

Watching the Super Bowl commercials today is quite a different experience than when I was a kid.  For advertisers, this was the game of games to advertising during, paying – and they still do pay – top dollar for the prized 30-second spot(s). We really had no idea what to expect from Doritos, Coors, Pepsi, etc. prior to the big game. Pressure to make the ads entertaining was high as well. Last thing you wanted was to drop millions on an ad and have viewers in the other room getting a beer or more chips instead of watching an ad about beer or chips. To this day, I still recall laughing hysterically (okay, I was 15) at the end of a Doritos commercial with Chevy Chase when an older lady swings in, grabbing a bag of chips from his hands. My siblings and I loved how Diet Coke paired with the VHS release of Indiana Jones to their Pepsi vs Diet Coke battle in the “Chose Wisely” commercial.

Yet, in the decades following my earlier memories of and enjoyment in Super Bowl ads viewing, marketing surrounding this game of games has evolved – and it’s been for the better. Yes, both businesses and consumers win in this scenario.

No More Waiting (sort of)

Sure, you still can’t watch the game until the actual day/time of the game, but with YouTube and social media video options, brands are getting ahead of the big game by teasing or even just outright releasing their commercials the week prior or sooner. These commercials range from small parts of a grand story they plan to bring to a close during the game to variations of the ad they decide to air during the game. Either way, the commercials run this Super Bowl weekend are getting more bang for the buck and broader reach – despite a steep decline in TV ratings during the super bowl.

Just how exactly? Let’s look at the limitations and decline of TV ad viewing vs the rise of digital. In terms of limitations, I was only ever able to watch the aforementioned commercials again when and if they ran during a show I was watching. Unless you recorded the game and went back to a commercial, all there ever was before was water cooler talk about commercials: “Did you see the Nike ‘Did Jordan fake his retirement‘ commercials with Steve Martin?” Traditional TV is not on demand and getting to specific commercials or parts of a show is not easy even with recorded shows. It’s also declining in every aspect of viewing. 2019 was the lowest TV viewership of the Super Bowl in 11 years, yet online viewing increased 200%. With YouTube, it’s easier to just pull up the commercial or a specific play during the big game online to share with a friend or coworker than it is to describe it.

Broader Reach

No TV ad for the Super Bowl? No problem” is the title of a recent Think with Google regarding the reach advertisers can experience when leveraging the digital video space. Here are a few highlights from that article to consider for your business.

  • Traditional TV viewership of the Super Bowl is down 14% since 2015

  • Comparatively, digital streaming has increased 200% since 2015

  • Since 2016, searches for “super bowl ad” have increased 49%

  • Digital Ads last longer – 2.5X increase in search during the week leading up to Super Bowl, with game-day level sustained views on YouTube for days following

  • Extend reach to other potential audiences. Olay brand’s alternative endings to their 2019 #KillerSkin campaign is attributed to tens of millions of views gained and a 71% increase in searches during the campaign.

With digital, you can exponentially increase the impact of your messages from ads you invest into specific times of the year (such as the Super Bowl) by developing a variety of forms throughout multiple platforms. Filming a commercial is quite an investment. If you could leverage that time to create variations to be parsed out into alternatives like Olay did, or shorter or longer bursts this can enable taking your message to YouTube, Facebook videos, Facebook/Instagram stories, YouTube ad videos. You can even use stills from your video shoot to help build recognizable image ads to spread across those same platforms and even into the Google Display Ad network for an even broader (and cheaper) reach.

Not everyone will be tuning in to watch the commercials (and the game) on February 2nd, so digital frees you from the limitations a traditional TV game-day advertiser is held to.

“See the rest of the story at ______________.com”

Even though there are far too many channels on TV and streaming networks offering ad space than I care to count anymore, each has a limited amount of time available to sell as advertising space. Due to this, costs of getting in front of viewers continues rising, despite the decreasing number of people even paying attention to the ads running during shows. On the other hand, buying less time on TV to get someone hooked can be followed up with a longer marketing video online; TV can be a support for your digital. Some brands have been quite successful in building an experience around short TV spots. A great example from 2016 is the Toyota Prius commercial “The Longest Chase“. Leading up to and following the game day, Toyota showed increments of about 30 seconds, each time showing a different portion of the story. Online, it ran two minutes in full. (Also included in that link is the full-length “Heck on Wheels” Prius commercial which was also broken out in similar fashion, but was mostly built to be a internet ad, considering it’s a two-minute music video/story.)

Even if not entering the national stage for promoting your business during the Super Bowl time frame, your business can ride the wave locally with posting timely videos and content that appeals to the football demographic and reaches beyond.

Revivify Pre-Game Commercial Picks

From the sea of ads rolling out over the last week, here are the Top 3 picks from our point of view.

Little Caesars | Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

In the ultimate spirit of Revivify, this ad takes a cultural saying for a ride as they introduce one of the most significant changes they’ve undertaken as a company since offering the app and in-store self serve pick-up for pre-paid orders. Rainn Wilson definitely delivers in this depiction of a CEO caught in pure reaction/desperation mode to try and help “Sliced Bread, Inc.” reclaim their position at the top. There are also several short segments of the story slated to play throughout the game during commercial breaks. A great example of a story developed to retain view interest of what’s going to happen next.

Long vs. Short: The minute long version of this commercial has more than 7x the views as the 30-second video, despite being put online the same day.

Hyundai | Smaht Pahk

I’m from a small town in Idaho, yet even I have been caught spectating the attempts of people trying to squeeze into the impossible parking spots. Rather than just show the self-parking ability of the new Sonata, we’re drawn into a noisy conversation on a street in Boston. Hyundai packed this commercial with some big names, including former Red Sox player, ‘Big Papi’ David Ortiz. Prior to this commercial airing, we see a Boston Accent coaching video as a tease of what’s to come.

Long vs short: There’s only the 1 minute 20 seconds version, garnishing 17M+ views so far

Reese’s Take 5 | The Best Thing You’ve Never Heard Of

Not only does Reese’s own how unknown this candy bar is, they take several sayings related to scenarios of how someone might not be aware of something and quite literally depicting them throughout the commercial. “Really insensitive, Trish!” I’m actually surprised there isn’t a longer version trying to cram in even more idioms.

Long vs Short: The difference between the 30-second (4.3K) and 45-seconds (approaching 1.4M) views is astounding.

Honorable Mention

Cheetos | Can’t Touch This

Only because I started this off with some throwback references to commercials during the Super Bowl while growing up and MC Hammer comes from that era. Again, some serious scenario play going on in this commercial – using “Cheetos hands” to get out of doing just about anything.

There’s also a teaser version with MC Hammer as the orange-fingered Cheetos eater / inspired artist.

Long vs Short: The MC Hammer teaser from two weeks before game day has garnished 5.3M views. The 30-second commercial with a different subject of the ad (still including MC Hammer delivering the “Can’t Touch This” line was released two days ago and has already been viewed 3M times. A 38-second variation – also two days old, has only been seen 20K times.

The Tearjerker

Google | Loretta

My eyes welled up watching this ad. I have thoughts of the struggles watching my great-grandma who had Alzheimer’s and my grandmother with mild dementia. With so many directions Google could have gone with its ability to store details and help remember, I can’t think of a better way than this to connect with every single human being  who watches it.