The 2006 Superbowl wasn’t a very exciting game- and from an advertising standpoint- well, the game did make a bunch of mediocre spots more interesting.
I’m not going to review the spots- you can read someone like Ad Age’s Bob Garfield for his commentary (may require subscription)
I’ll stick to maximizing your ad budget effectiveness- if you’re going to spend 2.5 million dollars to run a spot- shouldn’t you do your best to turn it into a viral marketing effort?
Viral marketing is what gave us for Burger King. A low budget effort to launch BK’s tendercrisp chicken sandwich- that you can have your way. So, to have your way with the chicken on the site- you tell it what to do- ala web porn (the chicken is wearing stockings and a garter belt). For less than $30 thousand dollars, BK was reeling in millions of viewers, all telling the chicken to do the macerena.
Back to the Superbowl spots- we’ve said over and over- post all your ads on your site, be they print, radio, outdoor or especially TV. If you give the ads to your customers, they may distribute them for you. Nike and Apple get this- as apparently does Budweiser this year- with a complete page of ads for you to view- and even download into your iPod.
Why do we know this works? Well, in this blog we posted a BMW motorcycle ad because we thought it was, well, kind of lame. Apparently a lot of people on various motorcycle forums wanted to discuss it too- and linked to it- off our site, instead of to the BMW Motorrad site.
So a few rules about placing your Super Bowl spots on the web:

  • Do have them posted with both quicktime and windows media player at various bandwidth speeds (we prefer Quicktime by far- the quality and reliability is much better).
  • Do have them available as a video podcast (why not be uber hip?)
  • Do allow them to be downloadable- Budwieser does this, Hummer did not.
  • Do have them on a page that can be bookmarked and sent easily- Hummer got this- Budweiser didn’t (they also have you run through a stupid age check stage to get to the ads- stupid for 2 reasons- all 12 year olds will say they are 22, and- if it ran on national TV- why would you not let a 12 year old be able to see it online?)
  • Do promote your URL on the spot- especially for these special spots: Hummer scores again.
  • Do have a contest, or ratings, or some interactive fun thing tied to the spot when you get there. If you can harvest more data- especially an e-mail address, the ad is more effective.
  • Make sure you have a very good text description of the ad somewhere- since search engines can’t tell one .mov file from another.
  • Don’t start the spot running automatically- let the user be in control.

If you can afford to spend 2.5 million to run the spot- you should be able to afford the couple of hundred of dollars for encoding the spot at the different resolutions- and to add it to the site.
I don’t have time to search for every spot to see if the advertisers took any of the above advice- but for the record Budweiser came closest to getting it right of the advertisers I checked- with Hummer coming close (they didn’t make it downloadable).
OK- I can’t resist- best spot: Sharpie with the costumed Pirate who demonstrates the advantage of the Sharpie retractable in a fun and entertaining way. If it’s still about selling benefits- Sharpie got it.
Close tie: FedEx with the neanderthal getting fired for not using FedEx even though it’s not been invented yet. Again, the benefit is clear- use FedEx- don’t get squashed by a dinosaur.
I’m not a big advocate of beer ads- I think they should show people crashing their cars, killing their friends, throwing up, instead of getting hot chicks and being super suave- but, Budweiser won with 4 spots- Secret Fridge, the Super Fan, Clydesdale American Dream, The Wave.
All were entertaining, which is the best a beer ad can do- because no matter how much beer marketers have tried- it’s really hard to talk about the product benefits of something that makes you crash your car, kill your friends….
The Dove real beauty campaign is probably the only intelligent spot tuned to resonate with the female audience- and from personal experience with women fighting body morphic issues- I think this campaign will help them sell product over the spots featuring unrealistically hot super models.
ABC also scored with their addicted to Lost teaser. Well done twist on what is almost always just a movie trailer treatment. Creativity scores points- plus the show is interesting about half the time. There is also a 3 minute version available.
The Hummer Monsters spot wasn’t making it’s Superbowl debut, but was probably the first time a lot of people saw it. Got my attention, kept my attention- and made me smile at the end.
Losers: The beer institute- what? Ameriquest- I’m still not sure what they do- yes, they were funny- but, these spots could have been for anybody- who makes big mistakes. Last but not least- Fabio in the Nationwide commercial- if it wasn’t in the Superbowl- I would have already fast forwarded through it. GoDaddy doesn’t even deserve a mention here- they seem to think that we care about their advertising more than we care about their product- which used to be good- but now is a mess to navigate and use. These guys need to look at how Google builds an interface.

Say what you want about the spots- the more important part is how they can work for the client. While site traffic is good, the idea is to sell something once you lure them there. Most advertising agencies still haven’t figured that out yet- maybe for Superbowl 41 in 2007?

What do you think?