If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all know that Super Bowl XLVIII isn’t about the Broncos and the Seahawks—it’s all about the ads. While there are a few fanatics who prefer to watch the game without all the pomp and circumstance of Pinterest decorations and spinach dip, for most, Super Bowl parties are one of the most anticipated social events of the year, and the ads are the main topic of conversation well into the fourth quarter.
Last year an estimated 108.4 million people tuned in to the game, making the already coveted commercial spots invaluable. A decade ago watching the Super Bowl was only a social experience; today the social experience is all about how it expands outside of the party. Thanks to social media, commercials aren’t seen once and then forgotten. On the contrary, they are shared, liked, tweeted, posted on YouTube, and emailed. They are discussed, debated and dissected like classic literature. “Super Bowl XLVIII” even has its own Twitter handle with 116 K followers, 838 tweets, and counting.
According to new research from G&R, 92% of Super Bowl watchers regularly engage in social media activity. Those who end up being the first to share news within their social media circles, or “initiators”, are an exciting new market for advertisers to target. They ignite brand buzz.
In recent years, Super Bowl advertisers have realized they can get a leg up with social media previews and teasers of their ads as a way to spark interest long before the game begins. Super Bowl ads used to be a three-hour extravaganza of brand creativity, signaling the start of a new marketing campaign for participating companies. In the modern age of social media, the weeks leading up to the big game have been filled with enticing clips and home video contests, daring us to not tune in to see what they’re all about.
So far this year, chocolate and peanut butter are trying couple’s therapy in a racy Butterfinger teaser, the final five contenders in Doritos viewers’ choice contest have been chosen and are being voted on each day, and Axe has already caught everyone’s attention with a brief clip of its heartfelt ad about love and peace, a far cry from its past commercials featuring scantily clad women chasing Axe-wearing men.
Major brands are no longer trying to get you hooked on the product in 30 seconds—they’re trying to win the conversation. With the help of social media there’s no end in sight for how long the buzz can last. This new phenomenon is something advertisers can’t put a price on—even if a 30 second spot did cost them $4 million.