January 30, 2015 Kevin Erb

To see or not to see

The BIG GAME is this Sunday, as you may have heard, and outside the actual game and discussions of deflated balls, the thing people get most excited about is something near and dear to our heart – the ads, of course.
Over the past several years, thanks to the continued growth of YouTube and other social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, an interesting debate has arisen around the Super Bowl’s ads. More specifically, those brands ponying up to pitch their wares in the Super Bowl have to consider – and answer – an important question well in advance of game day.
In the “good ol’ days” prior to social sharing and buzz, seeing the ad itself for the first time during the game was the big deal. It was the spectacle and the thing to get people talking.
Now, in the age of social sharing, the debate is about whether or not advertisers should show their ads ahead of the Super Bowl. Not necessarily on TV, but simply through their own branded platforms (YouTube channel, Facebook page, website). Many Super Bowl advertisers have found success in releasing their ads prior to game day; so many, in fact, that there seems to be more noise when actually do wait until Sunday.
There are compelling arguments for and against releasing your Super Bowl ad ahead of the game.
Running your ad ahead of the game
  • Pro: Get your money’s worth. These things cost a lot of money, as you may have heard. (A 30-second spot in this year’s game ran $4.5 million.) Why not get as much mileage out of your investment as possible?
  • Con: No more element of surprise. The more people are exposed to your content ahead of its official debut, the less they’ll be blown away by it when they see it during the game. This may not be a big deal depending on ad format and approach; then again, it may render certain ads much less important.
Waiting until the game
  • Pro: Make a splash. If you’re paying that much for the spot, the last thing you want is to ruin the surprise, no? If people already know what your ad is, how excited are they going to be about watching during the game?
In the end, the best strategy may be somewhere between the two sides of this debate – devising a small but clever teaser campaign containing basic elements of the spot itself without giving away too much of whatever story or hook it contains. This can often increase interest in the spot and make people want to see it more.
And while you’ll probably never have to worry about making this decision for your brand when it comes to advertising in the Super Bowl, everyone has their Super Bowl – that event or date or season most important to them and when all their world is watching. How you communicate your brand for that Big Game is just as important as the Big Game is for its advertisers.