The Superbowl is an anomaly. It’s one of the few events which can kick the world up into a frenzy. Fans begin to appear out of all corners, supporting teams from places they’ve often never been to. People who don’t follow sports in their own country suddenly have their interest piqued in a sport which is complicated, stop-start and only widely played in one country.
With 111 million viewers in 2011, it’s undoubtedly a marketeer’s dream. Just as many of these people watch to see what comes along with the game as the result of the game itself, whether that be the half time entertainment, or to see what some of the world’s largest brands can do with their massive budgets during the ad breaks. This year’s event was the perfect example of how victory can be garnered by hijacking topical news, and that even the best laid plans sometimes fall short of expectations.
Coca-Cola decided to do something different for 2013. Two weeks before the Superbowl, they released an interactive advertising campaign online, which they called “Mirage”. This online advert pitted a group of showgirls against groups of cowboys and desert bandits, in a race across a sweltering desert to be the first to reach a giant bottle of Coca-Cola. They created a microsite, Cokechase.com, where viewers were directed in order to vote for which group they wanted to win, and ultimately be the final advert, which would air during the Superbowl.
Even with all the best laid plans, Cokechase.com struggled to keep up with the response, an estimated 1.3 million visitors in just minutes. It seems as though Coca-Cola made a basic planning error, and jeopardised a costly campaign, simply by underestimating just how many people would interact with their campaign.
With the average cost of a 30 second advertisement during the Superbowl estimated to be around $4 million, Coca-Cola had to switch to plan b, and instead asked fans to vote with a twitter hashtag instead. However, luck wasn’t on their side… twitter began encountering problems too, with so many brands promoting tweets during the game. Users became disillusioned, and despite an estimated 8.2 million interactions, and 910,000 votes, the budget invested, and the subsequent negative press, the campaign was declared a flop.
However, another brand showed that success can lie in quickly taking advantage of an opportunity.
Oreo gained the most positive sentiment at the Superbowl, simply by keeping their fingers on the pulse and taking advantage of the opportunity presented by a 34-minute blackout. As viewers were left scratching their heads, Oreo’s ad team spent five minutes designing an image, featuring an Oreo in the shadows, with the tagline “You can still dunk in the dark” and posted it to their twitter feed. A very simple tactic, yet, very topical. The image was retweeted more than 15,000 times in just 14 hours.
The Superbowl showed us all, once again, that we shouldn’t forget the basics. The best laid plans can all fall to pieces, and that there’s often a lot to gain by keeping things simple. Now, time to turn the lights off and dunk that Oreo.