Do Teasers Spoil the Super Bowl?
By Yamuna Hopwood and Philip Trampe
As we move into the digital age, the Super Bowl commercials are getting more complex, and unlike previous years, the ads are being promoted through teasers online, or even being shown in their entirety before game day. The digital world seems to messing with our traditions, even daring to change the format of the sacred NFL championship.
Is this move by the advertisers a smart decision? Should advertisers leave the tradition of Super Bowl commercials as they were, rather than doing complicated add-ons?
Here at Blue Wave Marketing, we wanted to explore our own opinions on the matter, which turned into quite the debate. Our interns Yamuna and Phil had opposing views, Yamuna against, and Phil for.
Round 1: Shock value
Phil: I understand why people are saying that the “shock value” of the commercials are being diminished, obviously due to the fact that you’re not just having a commercial thrown at you on Sunday, but I don’t think that releasing teasers and commercials early really harms the actual commercials on game day. To keep with the theme of football, an early released teaser is like watching game tapes leading up to a big game. It’s prep work. It gets you in the mind set. You know what you’re up against, and you’ve formulated expectations. You’re prepared and now you’re ready to take on the actual game, which is still as exciting, if not more so since you hyped it up in your mind. If you’ve previously seen the commercial in its entirety, you know what’s coming. You can handle it. Teasers are the best as you have a formulated view about what’s going to happen, and you can either: A) Be right (which is a victory everyone enjoys), or B) be thrown for an unexpected loop, which in the end can still give you that shock value that people seem to worried about losing.
Yamuna: Game tapes and teasers are two very different things. After all, it makes sense to show a few live in-game shots before the Super Bowl because it’s a huge, four hour event you wait all year for and viewers obviously want to know what to expect (to some degree). But commercials are thirty seconds long, and by releasing even a fifteen second sneak peek of what to expect, companies are practically giving away something they’ve spent an upwards of five million dollars producing. Sure, teasers do produce some buzz the week before game day, but statistics show that more people stick around for the commercials than the sport itself, so if viewers have already seen the commercials, what’s the motivation for watching the game at all?
Round 2: Tradition
Yamuna: I’m sure you’ll agree that for a lot of Americans, the Super Bowl isn’t about football. Few Americans know how football works, let alone care who wins and who loses, and for the ads that lie at the heart of the event. You could even say that they’ve become an important part of American culture—and this year, companies are polluting that by pre-releasing videos. And as creative as your marketing team is, you can’t pre-release a commercial without giving something away, and the way things are, brands aren’t just revealing the concept of their upcoming commercial, but also the exclusive feel that makes Super Bowl commercials stand out. After all, if we can watch them whenever we want, then what’s to separate a Super Bowl ad from any other commercial? The tradition of sitting down with your friends and not knowing what exactly is going to happen, that’s a big part of what The Super Bowl is all about. If pre-releasing becomes an annual thing, then watching the game will soon be just as fun as re-watching the same commercials over and over, any other day of the year.
Phil: I enjoy tradition as much as the next guy. Things that are done for centuries just like Grand Pappi used to do it—give it to me; I’ll eat it up. The Super Bowl is an awesome tradition, and I won’t disagree with your claim that it’s “not about football,” rather, football is the basis of the tradition, which has been perfected through wings, beer, and commercials. It’s the “Superbowl Experience” that is the tradition. The reason why traditions have managed to stick around for so long is thanks to their ability to evolve. Trust me, during the Super Bowl I, no company would spend four million for 30-second time slot during the game. So it makes sense to let the tradition takes its due course in society today, and with society moving online into the social media world, the ads have got to follow. With the mass clutter that is Super Bowl commercials, the ones that stand out, the ones that survive, are the ones that have adapted. Creative narratives told in a minute that cost four million dollars for just for the time slot (not just production), need their deserved introduction, drum roll, Hype man, whatever you want to call it. With free video sharing platforms available online to do just that, it would kill your brand not to change with the times.
And it’s not like the tradition is entirely gone. The ads are still on during the game; technically at this present time, you don’t need to watch the online teasers. The audience for the Super Bowl itself is so vast, it’s guaranteed to reach audiences, (like my Grand Pappi), that don’t even know how to turn on a computer, let alone find anything on YouTube. Eventually, in order to stand out, brands will need to go even further than what they’re doing now to stay relevant. Times change, traditions evolve, that’s how they stick around.
Round 3: Publicity
Phil: If anything, the publicity over time for the brands that release footage before game day is much more talked about, particularly those that release teasers. In all honesty, how many Super Bowl commercials do you actually remember the day after the game? Maybe 5-10 ads? If you watch the game from start to finish you’re subjected to at least sixty commercials! How is a brand supposed to make a lasting impression with all that clutter?! Teasers are sneaky in that way, advertisers are able to create a mini fan base before even airing their commercial. Viewers of the teasers have now, maybe unbeknownst, become personally invested in the commercial reveal. They have taken time to be become familiar with the concept, and therefore, there is a higher chance of remaining in the mind of the consumer after the, what seems to have become, the never-ending strobe of ads during the game.
Yamuna: You’re right. Teasers generate a lot of publicity, and you can see that in some of the ads that have been released this week. The weekend has barely started, and people are already talking about the VW elevator commercial, and the prom-themed spot Audi just put out. The only question is, how long will these conversations go on? Game day will roll around, people will spend four hours re-watching ads they’ve already seen, the game will end, and in the next few days, people will forget about it completely. Essentially, the exposure they get from sneak peeks is short term. This is why brands should consider keeping their spots to themselves until Sunday night, if they want to get any sort of long-term buzz. That way, people won’t be talked about about the ads come Monday morning, and the conversations surrounding them will be able to move beyond the Super Bowl itself.
Thanks to social media, companies can interact directly with their consumers, which is turning today’s marketing scene on its head. The pre-releasing of once top secret Super Bowl ads this week is a great example of how advertisers are adapting to the digital world. Since the move is so recent, it’s hard to say how good of a marketing strategy it will prove to be in the long term, but if the buzz it has created recently is any indication, it’s possible that the way we watch the Super Bowl is in for a change. But what are your thoughts? In the comments below, let us know who won each round, and tell us what you think about the teaser videos we’ve been seeing this week.