This paper will delve into the changes that the social media landscape has brought upon Super Bowl ads and how this has translated into the present day brand awareness strategy that various companies have been utilizing. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events in the U.S. and, as such, companies often attempt to capture the attention of the audience through a variety of entertaining and amusing commercials that are aired during the commercial breaks.
It used to be the case that companies often attempted to top each with ever increasingly audacious commercials which were meant to get audiences talking about the company thus creating a considerable degree of brand awareness among the general population (Barraclough, 2012).
The result was that the constant one-upmanship by the various companies actually created a “secondary show” so to speak wherein the advertisements that were telecasted during the Super bowl became almost as relevant to the television audience as the main event itself. Such a state of affairs radically changed as a direct result of the development of social media and the need for companies to better connect with their customers through social media campaigns (Barraclough, 2012).
The end result was a radical altering of Super Bowl ads by social media to the extent that the goal of generating brand awareness through televised advertisements shared its importance with the need to generate sufficient social media “hype” via sharing details of the advertisement through a variety of social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
What Conflicts are Evident?
One of the most notable changes in practices when it comes to Super Bowl ads has been the sharing of snippets, details or even the entire ad itself on social media prior to its release during the Super Bowl. While such an action may seem illogical since the entire point of a Super Bowl ad is to capture the attention of audiences, the fact is that with the development of social media platforms comes the creation of new methods of generating brand awareness and interest in a company’s products.
Social media has enabled the rapid sharing of thoughts, ideas and general views regarding a plethora of topics. This model of communication is substantially different as compared to the previous state of affairs that existed wherein the concept of communication often involved a face to face conversation, an email or a phone call.
With the development of new tools in commenting and sharing on social media came the literal “explosion” in online communication and collaboration wherein complete strangers could comment and share a particular post or article on their social media page to all their friends or communicate ideas or concepts to strangers on the post itself.
With such a development came increased interest on the part of advertisers to take advantage of this current predilection of the “online masses” to share and discuss interesting ideas. Iannucci (2010) explains that one manifestation of this attempt to access this yet untapped market was to generate interest in the advertisements themselves rather than in the product being sold (Iannucci, 2010).
While this may seem to be a rather strange notion, it was actually proven through the analysis of Hartmann & Klapper (2014) that the tactic actually worked wherein by sharing snippets of a Super Bowl commercial, creating a certain degree of controversy regarding particular segments that would be part of the ad and even showcasing the entirety of the ad itself weeks prior to the Super Bowl, actually generated more consumer interest in the ad and thus the product rather than merely showing the advertisement just on the day of the Super Bowl (Hartmann & Klapper, 2014).
What must be understood is that the marketing tactic involving the Super Bowl used to consist of focusing just on showcasing an interesting television commercial on the day itself.
This normally leads to millions of people being able to see the advertisement on the day itself yet from a marketing standpoint such a strategy is incredibly inefficient and wasteful since it compresses all possible consumer impressions regarding a product on just a single day without sufficient guarantee that the advertisement will truly compel consumers to buy the product that is being advertised (Naylor, Lamberton & West, 2012).
Such a process subsequently changed with the incorporation of social media into the marketing promotion mix that companies were utilizing. Instead of “putting all their eggs in one basket” so to speak when it came to the Super Bowl, companies were able to extend their marketing campaigns in the weeks prior and the weeks succeeding the Super Bowl.
This came in the form of releasing footage of the ads that were to be broadcasted which resulted in a considerable level of discussion and sharing among social media sites which was exactly what companies wanted since it boosted the brand awareness of the product that was being sold.
Incorporating Consumer Interaction into the Marketing Mix
Another of the impacts that social media has had on Super Bowl ads has been the incorporation of consumer interaction into the marketing mix. Such a strategy goes beyond merely having consumers share and comment on the ads themselves; rather, they become a means by which the advertisement comes together in the first place.
This comes in the form of online competitions wherein companies have consumers vote on particular concepts, have consumers submit videos or have them determine the outcome of particular ads (Armbruster, 2008). Such a strategy is utilized to increase the amount of “hype” surrounding an ad campaign and have consumers feel a certain level of competitiveness involving the type of ad campaign that they want the company to run.
All of this translates into increased brand awareness, product patronage and higher amounts of sales on the part of companies since it brings the product and the brand into the forefront of a consumers mind when it comes to their product purchases.
Broader Implications of the Relationship
The effectiveness of social media campaigns should not be underestimated since through the use of Super Bowl commercials as a method of drawing fans in to like and subscribe to a company’s Facebook page, this enables the company to create better product awareness through news, product offerings and other such promotions that will appear on a potential customer’s newsfeed (Armbruster, 2008).
Not only that, the interaction between customer and company through Facebook helps to create a “human face” for the company resulting in consumers that can better understand a particular product such as a wine company in California, a sausage maker in Boston or a chocolate store in New York. Awareness and greater consumer interaction translates into better product patronage which in turn increases the amount of sales for the company (Armbruster, 2008).
Do note though that Facebook also acts as an effective means of product promotion for various discounts and special offerings for seasonal marketing campaigns.
Various companies ranging from the alcoholic beverage maker Jack Daniels to the computer manufacturer Asus have Facebook fan pages and this has enabled them to create a larger consumer fan base since instead of the company merely being a nameless entity that consumers buy products from, it is subsequently transformed into an entity with particular views, positions on current events and even a sense of hum or when it comes to posting its daily wall posts (Vranica & O’Connell, 2003).
Advantages of the Strategy
With the rise in social media platforms has come the potential for companies to exploit this potentially lucrative marketing tool by promoting products and services via Super bowl commercials that have been broadcasted on social media sites such as Facebook or Youtube.
From a consumer penetration standpoint, what must be understood is that nearly 22% of all global online activity is situated within the U.S. with a large portion of that percentage being dedicated to social media interaction (Vranica & Steinberg, 2007). It is based on this that through social media promotion, companies are able to reach a large market share of consumers at relatively low cost as compared to doing the same activity via traditional marketing campaigns (TV., print ads, billboards, etc.).
Going back to the concept of cost and how it factors into advertising campaigns, it is important to note that viral marketing initiatives tend to create a certain degree of “hype” which results in a considerable degree of “liking” and “sharing” a particular type of advertisement on a social media platform whether it is in the form of a video or a print ad.
From this standpoint, it can be seen that creating an ad that can go “viral” can enable a company to potentially reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers without having to spend the same amount of time and effort in reaching them since consumers would be doing all the sharing themselves. This makes social media marketing through Super bowl ads an ideal method of product promotion due to the lower amount of effort and cost associated with this particular style of marketing (Vranica & Steinberg, 2007).
The inherent problem with using Super Bowl ads and other similar marketing campaigns is the fact that they are often quite expensive and demand millions of dollars in advertising fees. While it may be true that from a traditional marketing perspective the use of print ads, billboards, commercials and other types of “tried and tested” forms of marketing have proven to be effective in promoting a product, the fact remains that the reach of the promotion is often based on the price a company is willing to pay (Vranica & Steinberg, 2007).
Taking this into consideration, another impact that social media has had on Super Bowl ads is that present day social media platforms have extended the usefulness of this type of advertisement without having to spend the same amount of money in relation to what is normally charged by television stations.
When taking all the factors that have been mentioned into consideration, it can be seen that social media has brought about considerable changes to the landscape of Super Bowl advertisements by increasing the amount of time that they stay relevant to the general public.
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