How YouTube and Twitter Ruined Super Bowl Commercials
In a few days, the largest television audience it is now possible to assemble will see a new ad for Oikos Greek yogurt. The stakes couldn’t be higher: Getting in front of more than 100 million viewers for 30 seconds costs an estimated $4 million.
Too bad, then, that the spot has already been branded a disappointment: “A lot of setup without much payoff,” Adweek shrugged earlier this week.
This, in miniature, is what the formerly glorious Super Bowl ad game has come to. If you’re ready for some football, you’ll have to wait until kickoff. But if you’re ready for some advertising, a slew of the most-awaited commercials of the year are available right now.
Thanks to advertisers’ frenzy to exploit the possibilities of social media and YouTube, it’s now possible for the letdown to actually precede the hype.
It’s an epic fumble, really. Everybody knows the Super Bowl is that one special day when Madison Avenue’s finest creations receive unrivaled attention — the one time a year that we all stop pretending we hate advertising.
But every year, the ad season has been starting earlier and earlier than the game itself — through online “teasers,” contests, stunts or even full-on pre-releases like that Oikos ad. And in 2014, this Super Bowl Ad Creep has truly gotten out of hand.
Why has this happened? Because the conventional wisdom in the ad business now insists that Super Bowl ads are no longer just about 30 or 60 seconds of airtime. Instead their impact is engineered to last days, if not weeks, as both anticipation and reaction spool out across social media.
Or at least that’s the theory. And advertisers’ urge to build anticipation is understandable — that’s what advertisers do. But the reality is that it’s now possible to get burned out on Super Bowl XLVIII ads before the opening coin toss.
We’ve seen the freakishly muscled version of GoDaddy endorser Danica Patrick; we’ve seen Squarespace’s grim portrayal of the contemporary Internet; and we’ve seen John Stamos joined by his former Full House co-stars Bob Saget and David Coulier in that Oikos spot.
And when they’re not showing their entire spots early, many advertisers are basically advertising them via “teasers.” While these have been compared to movie trailers, the obvious difference is that a 15-second “tease” of something that lasts 30 seconds is kind of ridiculous: