Sunday’s Super Bowl game promises to bring in about 100 million television viewers if it’s on par with last year’s game. But this year many corporate advertisers are taking their million-dollar spots to the next level by pairing them with Facebook campaigns.
It’s what some have called the Web 3.0 phase of Super Bowl marketing where Facebook is no longer a peripheral part of a company’s game day advertising, but rather, part of its core strategy.
Top examples include Coca-Cola and Budweiser, while PepsiCo., Inc. — which spent an estimated $254 million in Super Bowl ads during the past 20 years — has opted out of running a $3 million per 30 seconds ad in favor of its celebrity-studded Refresh Everything charity project. Eventually the project is set to award $20 million in community grants to charity based upon online voting.
“Instead of getting 30 seconds to connect with their customers, they’re getting 30 days,” Mike Murphy, vice-president of global sales at Facebook told theFinancial Times of Pepsi’s decision to go all Facebook this year.
Pepsi’s parent company, PepsiCo, has not pulled out of the event entirely.
Doritos, part of Frito-Lay North America — a division of PepsiCo — is currently incorporating television and Facebook by asking fans on its page there to vote on six fan-created videos to determine which three will run during the Super Bowl.
Several other companies are going the way of combining tradition and new media this Super Bowl.
Budweiser is this year’s biggest advertiser, with five minutes of air time that will be filled, in part, based on votes from Facebook users. On the company’s Facebook page, users are asked to view three videos and vote on their favorite for the Super Bowl, and then asked to publish the results to their wall so that it may enter the news feed for their friends to see. More than 2,000 people have posted comments on the voting since it opened Friday.
Such a strategy definitely maximizes the audience of 100 million (or so) Super Bowl watchers and the approximately equal number of U.S. Facebook users, giving Budweiser potentially twice the audience for its buck.
Coca-Cola is another company that decided to pursue this strategy in the 2010 Super Bowl, coupling its commercial not only with Facebook marketing — but a charity campaign that combines virtual gifts with a sneak peak at the anticipated commercials for Facebook fans.
In a web conference last week Coca-Cola Chief Marketing Officer, Katie Bayne spoke at a Boys & Girls Clubs of America center in New York to announce the company’s Live Positively campaign. Essentially the campaign aims to raise at least $250,000 for the organization, a non-profit that provides recreational programs for children, not only through its Super Bowl and print media ads, but also through its Facebook page.
The Live Positively tab on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page allows users to send a virtual gift of a Coke, publish the result to your news stream, and then allows you a sneak peek at the company’s Super Bowl ads. For every virtual gift sent, Coca-Cola donates $1 to the Boys & Girls Club. After publishing a gift to your stream on Facebook, you have the option to send more gifts or donate your Facebook status to promote charity. The company also said it would match donations of time, money or Coke Rewards points to the Boys & Girls Club.
Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most recognized brand names and Bayne said combining television and Facebook during a mass social event like the Super Bowl allows the company to add more texture to their messages and maximize that message in each medium given that fact that many consumers live multi-dimensional lives where they use many different media in tandem.
“Our mission is to make any one of these fantastic live television events partnered with our efforts on the digital side two or three times more effective,” Baynes said. “Our core messages aren’t strong enough if you can’t figure out how to use them best in all these mediums.”
Coca-Cola isn’t the only company getting into virtual goods during the Super Bowl, as reported earlier by Inside Social Games, various developers have also opted to get in on Super Bowl marketing by offering a litany of virtual goods.
Zynga’s FarmVille, with 75 million monthly active users, rolled out 10 limited edition football-themed virtual goods, including a Football Tree, Gnome Ref and Line Quacker (a duck with a football helmet), all of which may be purchased using in-game currency or Farm Cash, virtual currency that may be purchased.
Although the goods are Super Bowl-themed, the colors and logos are not official, only approximations and are available for only six days.
The reshuffling of Super Bowl campaigns to integrate Facebook is a seemingly natural step for a medium that consumes hours’ worth of the lives of 100 million Americans daily and is likely something that will be increasingly popular. Exactly how to do so is the interesting part here — whether virtual goods, funny videos or ducks with football helmets is the best way to go has yet to be fully figured out.
Also, Pepsi’s decision to opt-out of television advertising is an interesting natural experiment, as it will be possible to compare the reverberations of their campaign to those of Coca-Cola and Budweiser later this year. The results will surely have implications for the tone of this conversation in 2011.