I don’t love Super Bowl teaser ads. I don’t watch them. In fact, I actively avoid them. They’re fleeting, pandering and often used for nothing more than a false buildup to typically mediocre ads.
But I do love the idea of Super Bowl teaser ads. Not because building hype for a TV ad makes any sense at all, but because it indicates a broad movement towards digital video distribution and more integrated mass marketing experiences.
The Super Bowl has always been the pinnacle of broadcast advertising. Brands and agencies pull out all the stops and break the bank to showcase their new campaigns — knowing that much of what airs between plays will become water cooler conversation for the rest of the year.
But in 2010, something dramatic happened. On Super Bowl Sunday, Old Spice released the “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign. And they did it entirely online! The first TV spot for that campaign didn’t air until February 7, three days after the Super Bowl. But by then the video had already racked up over a million views on YouTube and was on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon. The paradigm shift had begun.
Do you remember any other ads from 2010? I didn't think so.
A brief 5 years later and digitally savvy brands like Purina and Newcastle Brown Ale are winning over millions of eyeballs with their web-exclusive Super Bowl content, YouTube will be airing its own Half-Time show, and the influx of teaser ads shows that some of the big guns are ready to play ball in a new arena.
The Super Bowl is a big, expensive institution in the marketing world. The likes of Pepsi and Budweiser aren’t just going to abandon it or its 111 million viewers. But they are making it a little more interesting every year with digital activations that tie together broader interactive campaigns.
Now they just need to figure out how to produce more interesting content. Maybe next year.