The Super Bowl of Marketer-Consumer Co-Creation


Please join the debate here on my latest MediaPost opinion column, where I dive into the upcoming Super Bowl, which will be defined by markter-consumer co-creation.

The Super Bowl of Marketer-Consumer Co-Creation

by Max Kalehoff, September 15, 2006

Super Bowl XLI will be a milestone. Not for the game or programming, but for commercials sponsored by advertisers, produced by agencies and fueled by consumer participation.

Without even lifting a finger, some advertisers during the last Super Bowl saw their ads jump virally onto the Web and, in many cases, achieve greater active involvement with consumers. Add to that the recent social storm of consumer video uploading, sharing and syndication through services like YouTube and Revver, where consumer-generated multimedia (CGM2) manifests on big portals as well as micro-communities and blogs. Finally, add the fact that advertisers are struggling to alleviate and justify the higher costs and eroding returns of paid, disruptive television media impressions.

And that’s a recipe for what we’re already seeing in full force five months before the Feb. 4 extravaganza. For example, Brandweek reported this week that GM’s Chevrolet is courting fledgling college talent to develop a spot to be broadcast during Super Bowl XLI. Within days of that announcement, USA Today reported that Frito-Lay will invite consumers to enter their own 30-second ads for Doritos in an online competition, with the winner broadcast during the game. I guarantee you more programs will be announced shortly, and consumer-generated tie-ins will be big.

Notwithstanding the paradox of mashing together the biggest broadcast marketing event with the niche orientation of CGM, this year the advertising industry will understandably pay more attention to pre- and post-buzz, involvement and incremental impact than ever before. While discussion around the exorbitant cost of 30-second spots is as rampant as ever, Super Bowl advertising is becoming even less about the 30 seconds of television impressions and more about everything that extends from and around them. In large part to CMG2, pure television impression buys will lose more ground, while holistic experiential marketing will gain.

Considering this evolutionary morphing of television, consumer participation and online video, I have six key questions as the ad industry preps for the next Super Bowl:

1. Will advertisers bridge the gap between their traditional television efforts, online efforts and consumer participation, to create one seamless event? During last year’s Super Bowl, a surprising number of these television events, centered on 30-second spots, were not coordinated. Some couldn’t deliver trivial content online related to their promotion. Some even failed to stream the actual commercial spots on their sites, relying on consumers to eventually do it for them (somehow).

2. Will advertisers and their agencies practice consistency? With big brands embracing consumers to co-create, they also must embrace the spirit of participation beyond the social video promotion of today. Customer listening and interaction must resonate over time and across organizational silos; it must apply not just to fun contests, but whenever customers have suggestions, feedback or criticism.

3. When engaging consumers to co-create, will advertisers respect the co-creators, keep the creation credible, compensate, and avoid even the slightest appearance of cheap-work-for-hire schemes (not unlike reality television)?

4. Advertisers often use their 30-second spots to announce new products during the Super Bowl, intended for U.S. audiences. Will they be prepared for immediate and increasingly massive spillover to global markets via online video and social networks? People outside the U.S. may have little interest in the Super Bowl, but entertaining, offensive or confusing video clips passed on by trusted friends is an entirely different story.

5. Do advertisers have a strategy to measure participation and engagement around these highly viral events, which tend to span numerous media? Television impression are only the start, but what about pre- and post-Super Bowl video downloads, viewer pass-along and syndication, buzz, commentary, sentiment, recommendations, intent to respond, and even parody? Are you integrating these measures and tying them to overall brand performance and sales?

6. Finally, do advertisers have a strategy and culture to embrace and actively manage engagement by the community, on the fly? If there’s anything that signifies CGM2, it’s that trajectories can be unpredictable and veer suddenly. Advertisers must be prepared and nimble enough to credibly intervene and keep things on track.

Of course, these are only a few questions looming as the collision of television, consumer participation and CGM2 approaches. But I think they will be among the most decisive issues in the analysis of the Super Bowl XLI aftermath.

What do you think? 

Join the debate on the MediaPost blog here.


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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