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7 Marketing Lessons (and an Infographic) for Next Year's Super Bowl Advertisers (and You)

by Jeffrey K. Rohrs  |  
February 7, 2013

With Super Bowl XLVII now in the books, we all know what time it is. It's time to start thinking about the 2014 Super Bowl, when my Cleveland Browns will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and claim their first Lombardi Trophy in what will undoubtedly be described as the greatest franchise turnaround in the history of sport.

This, of course, will not happen. But a boy can dream...

I can also hope against hope that the advertisers that underwrite the 48th Super Bowl will learn some pretty big lessons from this year's. I know I sure did. And the lessons learned aren't just applicable to brands with big advertising budgets; they are applicable to any marketer looking to get more ROI from marketing investments.

But before I get to those lessons, let me share how I discovered them.

Instead of watching the Super Bowl in real-time like a normal human being, I fired up the DVR and logged each and every commercial—national and local to my market—that ran from 6 PM EST through the commercial break after the final whistle. I then went back and logged each and every call to action involving the Web, mobile channels, social media, and telephone.

The findings were a true head-shaker, and most are compiled in the infographic at the end of this article. The rest you can find in my recent blog rant, "Punt, Pass & Kick: Email, Mobile & Social Misses at Super Bowl XLVII."

Now that I've had some time to ponder what the brands near total failure to engage viewers beyond the TV screen means, I'm able to distill my thoughts into these seven lessons for Super Bowl XVLIII's advertisers—and everybody else.

Lesson No. 1: Big advertising bets demand big calls to action

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Jeffrey K. Rohrs is VP of marketing research and education at ExactTarget, a global SaaS leader in cross-channel interactive marketing.


Twitter: @jkrohrs

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  • by CityKid Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    Great post Jeffrey. I hope the Browns make it next year for your sake.

  • by Dora @ YucasLa Restaurants Thu Feb 7, 2013 via mobile

    I'm writing the Browns right now to get them started on that 2014 project! Great read, thanks!

  • by Diana Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    Great insights. I am hoping the "Cookies" will prevail one day too.

  • by PRLguy Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    How do these numbers add up?
    Mobile Marketing Association estimates that 91% of viewers used their mobile devices during the commercials ... ... a time when over 90% of the US adult population has cell phones and over 50% of those are smartphones...

  • by Jeffrey K. Rohrs Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    The MMA 91% number includes ANY mobile device, so my guess is that it's tablets that push it higher than the total US adult cell phone (feature phone + smartphone) numbers.

  • by ClickbyClick Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    Dead on. In the pursuit of all things social/viral and emotional... we've lost the end goal of moving product.
    When you are on the world's biggest stage: Make it memorable or don't make it all.

    Proving the only thing worse than being hated is ignored, I felt the @BlackBerry spot was forgettable.

    Here's my open letter to Black Berry's CMO for a do-over:

  • by PRLguy Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    Do we really think that there are tablet owners who don't own a smartphone? (BTW, your points are well-taken, because the majority of people are watching with phone in hand.) It's the over-the-top MMA #s I'm not buying. But then, maybe people who don't own mobile devices don't watch the SuperBowl, which in itself would be an interesting study.

  • by Aylin Thu Feb 7, 2013 via web

    Great article, Jeffrey. Thank you for highlighting Oreo’s success this past Sunday--every other company paled in comparison to the clever call-to-action that Oreo executed. The fact that Oreo was able to build their Instagram following-base exponentially after the Super Bowl ad proves that the pricey television slot was well worth the investment; the company is now able to reach a wide range of consumers quickly and at almost no cost. Plus, by encouraging users to share and get excited about the “#cookiethis” and “#cremethat”, the creative campaign essentially markets itself. Companies need to start understanding the importance of social and mobile engagement!

  • by Suzanne Perry Thu Feb 7, 2013 via mobile

    Fantastic article. Regarding #4 never understood why the brand creative director, direct response team (media and creative) didn't collaborate more. Great lessons learned here and wonderful perspective, thank you for sharing!!

  • by Ben Henson Fri Feb 8, 2013 via web

    A provocative account, well written Jeffrey. The battle between the good, the bad and the ugly often fails when it comes to the biggest opportunities. With such a captive audience, it's such a waste of time and investment - I have no idea what Mercedes were thinking :| (that said, I've heard loads of people talking about them and their ad, was it so 'ineffective' by intent and consequently has created a weird alternative reason to check out what made it naff?) So, why do the Brandies feel the need to rule toute seule?

  • by NJ Lester Fri Feb 8, 2013 via web

    I'm laughing. First at the author's bewilderment that companies aren't turning to social media as quickly or as completely as these 'metrics' guys claim. OMG, only 1/3 used hashtags!!!!!!! THEY'RE MISSING DATA!!!!!!!!

    I understand the importance of SM, particularly for small to medium-sized companies. But when you have the ability to get you message in front of tens of millions of eyes and with daily frequency, SM and all its claims of data mining, etc. are barely relevant.

    Are we going to claim, as this author implies, that Mecedes or Doritos is in real trouble because they aren't using a youtube logo on their ads? I'm laughing so hard my stomach is hurting... at those who have turned something good -- social media -- into the GOSPEL of marketing. YOU MUST USE SOCIAL MEDIA -- wow, what made SM so great was (past tense) that it allowed marketers to break long-standing but out-dated rules. Now in a matter of two years, SM has simply replaced one set of dogma with another.

    Try telling a client that you don't think SM is all that good and you'll be given the same look and treatment as if you just said George Washington was a thief and football isn't as fun to watch as soccer.

  • by Bob Lilienfeld Sat Feb 9, 2013 via web

    Completely agree with NJ Lester. Do 7K "likes" really mean much to Mercedes or Doritos? If Mercedes' objective was to convince men that they could afford a new Mercedes, they hit the mark. The fact that the car shown isn't available until September is irrelevant. Remember, the sales cycle for a new car is 3-6 months, unlike Oreos, where it's 3-6 seconds.

  • by Fatma Noureldeen Sun Feb 10, 2013 via web

    Thank you so much Mr. Rohrs, for this great analysis and being to the point , with those lessons.

  • by Sergey Mon Feb 11, 2013 via web

    What a great analysis! So much you can learn reading about others mistakes, great article. And I like 'ABBA' - abbreviation, very easy to remember.

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