I can’t wait to see the ads! This is a sentiment that you don’t often hear. But, it’s the way that many people used to feel about the Super Bowl. That changed this year.
Mark down 2012 as the first year that the Super Bowl ads moved online. Well before game time you knew that Ferris was back taking a day off, Seinfeld was outdone by “Leno!” in a flying squirrel suit and so on. In a way it felt like all of the Christmas presents had been opened on Christmas Eve.
Still, it is a strategy that most marketers have happily embraced. On paper, it makes perfect sense. After all millions of dollars were spent creating and placing these ads (this year the cost of 30-second slot was a reported $3.5 million). Why not take advantage of the guaranteed buzz leading up the game?
People are interested. They are voracious consumers of snackable content online and they love to share news and entertainment. Super Bowl ads have both those elements and are virtually guaranteed to “go viral.”
This means there is ROI to be had. The Honda team can point to the 12.2 million views on YouTube to prove its strategy worked. Twitter absolutely exploded when the Ferris Bueller teaser ad went live days before the two-minute ad was posted which was days before the Super Bowl.
Then there is all of the surrounding media buzz. There were the behind the scenes looks, the exclusive interviews, the critiques, etc. The earned media is there. There is no question. It’s hard to argue with the strategy.
Still it feels like something has been spoiled here. The conversation changed from “I wonder what to the Seinfeld spot will look like?” to people running around the party exclaiming “Leno!” with a clenched fist before the ad had even aired.
Others were disappointed with the edits. “They left out the part with the Walrus,” complained some of Twitter who had already seen and dissected the two-minute Ferris ad.
It’s just different. Like so many times before, the Internet has changed the conversation. There has been a shift and I don’t see it shifting back except for one reason: Clint Eastwood.
Yes Clint caught us all off guard in a poignant, humanly relevant ode to Detroit. He was this year’s Eminem. Once his gravelly voice declared: “It is halftime in America” we all stopped and listened. There was an impact. It was felt.
For all of us two-screen watchers, who had one eye on the game and another on Twitter feeds/Live blogs, you could see “The Clint Effect.” He became the topic as the other ads rolled. By sticking to their guns, in this case the 44-magnum carrying Clint, Chrysler arguably won the night.
So, yes the strategy behind marketing during the Super Bowl has changed forever. There will be two camps: The many who will show the ads before the game and the few who will hold them back.
However, there will always be a place for a throwback Clint’s “Halftime in America” debuting at the right place at the right time.
By Kenneth Hein
Follow Ken on Twitter @KennethHein
Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network