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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brands Huddle for Innovation as They Ready Super Bowl Ads

Now that the calendar has turned the page to December, the flow of news about Super Bowl ads has become a torrent. And as it has, there's one thing you can count on for the telecast of Super Bowl XLVII on February 3 from New Orleans besides the fact that the audience will be massive.

The advertising will be interesting and discussion-worthy. And that's especially the case because the Big Game has become a big platform for major innovations in social-media marketing as well as for brand apotheoses.

The history of Super Bowl advertising largely has been built around these grand statements: Apple with its "1984" commercial, for instance, and more recently Hyundai with the announcement of its Assurance incentive program.

But increasingly, savvy marketers have been looking at the game broadcast itself as only a sort of midpoint in a long campaign that relies on social media to grease the skids for the advertising during the weeks leading up to the game, often relies on social networks to create a surge of interest and even consumer participation during the Super Bowl, and then nurtures awareness and enthusiasm around the ads with social-media-based followup afterwards.

And in some cases, advertisers already have turned the game time itself into a social-media event that doesn't entirely depend on what's happening on the field or on the TV screen.

Last Super Bowl, for example, Coke TV ads featured computer-animated polar bears frolicking with Coca-Cola in their Arctic wonderland. But the same bears also appeared in a video stream that ran online throughout the game as the characters appeared to react in real time to the actual action during the Super Bowl, including touchdowns and even commercials for other brands. 

This year, expect social-media influence on marketing in and around the game to rise substantially.

Pepsi, for instance, promises "digital engagement" with the Super Bowl halftime show that it is again sponsoring this time around after several years. And Ford is making a splashy return to the game after a long absence, with a new ad for its Lincoln brand that will be consumer-generated via a social-marketing campaign in which fans are being invited to "co-create" the 60-second spot through tweets in a fun effort that will be curated by TV host Jimmy Fallon starting today.

Nowadays, the final score of the Super Bowl on the field isn't the only tally that matters. Brands are also picking up big points with a new blend of social media and advertising that will keep evolving.

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