Social Bowl 2012

27 01 2012

The first Sunday of February is a very special day. It’s the Super Bowl of Marketing. Advertisers pay up to $3.5 million for a 30-second spot. It’s the biggest roll of the dice all year, with new campaigns launched and no punches held back.

If you watch carefully, you may also see a little football going on.

This year, though, promises to be a little different. Sure, we’ve had a few years now of UGC (User-Generated Content), as well as some calls to hop online to see more. But now the big push is to tie Super Bowl advertising in to social media.

And part of me wonders if this is a risky move. Never mind that I teach social media and have an account on just about every site.

So what’s the problem? Simple. As soon as you invite (OK, beg) viewers to pick up their mobile device and start tweeting or posting status updates, you run the risk that they will become less and less engaged with the game, and more into Twitter and Facebook.

“Oh, did someone just score? I must have missed it. I was busy tweeting.”

And therein lies the risk. Sure, marketers may be able to drive viewers to fan pages and Twitter, but once there, what are the odds they will drift off to see what else is happening on the social graph? Heck, after a few minutes, you may as well just turn off the TV and go to bed.

With your phone,, of course.

The old school marketer in me says that we should be trying to engage viewers on the 52″ LCD in our living rooms, and not the 3-inch iPhone in our hand. Marketers are betting the farm on this one broadcast, and to risk losing them to an app is simply more risk than I would be willing to shoulder.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love social media more than the next guy. I made sure to get my Facebook vanity name at 12:07 am that day when they became available a couple of years ago, lest some other Nick Gerlich (there is another one) grab it before me. But when faced with the possibility of twittering away tens of millions of dollars in one evening, I begin to shake.

Well, not too much. It’s not my money. But I can imagine a certain fremdshämen feeling coming on when I see marketers do it anyway.

Rather than send people scurrying for their phones during the game, maybe they should be directing folks there after the Gatorade jug has been poured over the winning coach’s head. The goal is to captivate audiences, to keep them riveted to their seats, eyeballs aimed directly at the big screen.

And if anything, Twitter and Facebook should be noticeably quiet during the game, not as busy as LA freeways. Besides, regardless of which teams play, the ads are likely to be great. I’ve got a 50-yard-line seat reserved (aka Dad’s Recliner), and I want to see the marketing action.

We can tweet about it later.

Dr “That’s What’s Happening” Gerlich


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