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Super Bowl 2015: Short Passes or Go Deep?

Trends and Insight 360 Add to collection
Are brands releasing content too soon? Azher Ahmed, SVP/Director of Digital Operations, DDB Chicago, discusses
Super Bowl 2015: Short Passes or Go Deep?

Digital and social media have sliced up the consumer landscape in ways marketers and brands are struggling to grasp. Technology has paved the way for time-shifted, place-shifted, on-demand content that caters to our every whim. Consumers demand the control to create their own bubbles of personalized myopia.

Feeling this pressure, brands strive to be ‘always on'. Some have even gone so far as reframing their marketing efforts similar to more traditional content publishers and magazines.  The anxiety to create new, interesting and timely conversations is matched only by sheer explosion of opportunities to do so. And so brands feel compelled to capitalize.

But despite this complex and vast digital landscape, the television endures. The allure of live television, particularly, connects us in a beautifully simple and effective way. 

And why wouldn’t it? 

Plop yourself on the couch, push a button and disappear into the experience – sometimes so deeply you forget to check your phone (and probably pay the consequences). Newer phenomenon such as co-viewing and ‘second screen’ experiences merely enhance the main course: we’re all staring excitedly at the same moving pictures and words. And even if it’s for one day a year, America looks forward to the television commercials on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Therein lies the conundrum for modern marketers and brands: the collision of content and context. 

The $4.5 million question is: How do you balance the special, communal viewing aspects of a live event with the desire to capitalize on the slew of opportunities before, during and after the game?

In their desire to chase the smorgasbord of opportunities and broaden exposure, many brands spread themselves incredibly thin.  It’s like the philosophy of the short passing game. Get the ball out quickly and chip away to get the job done. 

But it’s hard to get excited about most of them. 

Brands are increasingly sacrificing the preciousness of ‘the reveal’ during the game by releasing their spots ahead of time.  When aired, those that lagged behind were simply caught up to where everyone was days or weeks prior.  With several million YouTube views being racked up before the game, it’s hard to argue against the effectiveness of that approach (assuming that views are one of your key metrics of success, of course, but that’s a whole new discussion). 

What happened to the deep ball? It feels a bit deflated (no pun intended, Pats fans).

It’s encouraging to see that some are going the ‘teaser’ route or leveraging the element of surprise altogether. And it will be interesting to see if ‘holding back’ will result in greater bursts of exposure and help these brands cut through the clutter. 

Assuming the spot is interesting, many will likely want to be the first to share it within their respective social following.  With the right social and paid media support, brands could greatly amplify this phenomenon.

It’s a risk, no doubt. But with great risk comes great reward.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a few Hail Mary’s thrown into the mix.

Azher Ahmed is SVP/Director of Digital Operations at DDB Chicago

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DDB North America, Sun, 01 Feb 2015 18:27:16 GMT