Once upon a time, like five years ago at this time, a good percentage of the anticipation and buildup surrounding Superbowl Sunday was reserved for the ads. They were never before seen, creative and surprising. They were an event within an event.. Outside of that, maybe an ad leaked here or an outtake was posted to YouTube there. It was a seldom used tactic a few years back.
Fast forward to this year, and it’s a completely different story. The entire lot seems to not only have been posted, picked apart, and in some cases pulled, but the roster has the full compliment of an expensive PR campaign behind it, with coverage in meta-outlets like AdWeek, but also making the rounds on the morning shows like Today and GMA, with omni-channel treatment providing coverage from their blog pages to expert interviews with Hoda and Kathie Lee.
Is it a slow news week, or did Superbowl Ad previewing just develop into a fully fledged news cycle? And why?
It’s curious at a minimum. I completely understand posting the spots to YouTube both for the producing agencies as well as the products. It’s a viable channel and the great ads, the hits, will get a lift in impressions and all the metrics that count. But I don’t buy the 48-hour post game window. Agencies are wringing the water out of the sponge before the event. It’s Pavlovian consumer behavior resulting from brands and agencies pre-roll activities that has rendered the interest window after the event so short. And it’s exactly because viewers have been beaten over the head with anticipation messaging for a month leading up to the game. That’s called exhausting.
So there may be benefits to releasing the spots ahead of the big event. There are also benefits to surprising and delighting the audience. Chrysler did this with it’s “Halftime in America” spot in 2012. No preview. Just great creative delivered to a huge audience. And isn’t that the point –– to leverage the exclusivity of the world’s (nearly) biggest stage? Doesn’t that get diluted with the slow drip that is the advance coverage? Hasn’t this dis-incentivized the reluctant Superbowl viewer who “only watches for the ads anyway”?
I know NFL leadership hasn’t exactly been hitting out of the park lately, but if I’m in charge I’m writing it into the contract that spots are embargoed until the champagne bottles have gone pop. Capture the audience, don’t dilute your viewership.