In case you’ve missed it, the commercial Volkswagon will be running during this weekend’s Super Bowl is online already and can be watched in full. The spot has a kid dressed up as Darth Vader (a device sure to warm the hearts of some people here at Voce) trying to use the Force on various things around the house and finally getting some sense of accomplishment from his dad and has already racked up over one million views. You can also view the full commercials for the Chevy/Transformers cross-promotion, the animated movie Rango and more in addition to teasers and behind-the-scenes videos for a number of others.
In another life (read: at another agency) I was partly responsible for helping a client generate buzz in advance of the 2007 Super Bowl for a number of commercials they were running during the broadcast. 10-15 second snippets of the spots were uploaded to YouTube and then we pitched those links out to a number of advertising and marketing blogs. The next year we did the same thing for the same client and, while we had fewer clips to go out with but managed to wrack up more views in total than the year before.
Being one of the first to engage in that particular tactic I’ve watched the evolution of how it’s been utilized by others with great interest, as the tweet from yesterday above shows.
Buying an ad in the Super Bowl is an expensive proposition. A 30-second spot costs almost $3 million this year and can be even more costly to produce in the first place. And while marketers are surely looking to boost the return-on-investment by distributing them online, hoping that they’ll be seen by more people and watched repeatedly, officially releasing the full spot a week before the broadcast would seem to be reaping today’s gains at the expense of tomorrow.
Distributing clips and teasers makes a lot of sense. Someone views a third of the commercial and then tunes in during the game and gets excited when the spot comes on so they can watch the full version. It’s easy to visualize them paying more attention than usual and making sure others in the room are doing likewise since the teaser was already really funny.
But releasing the whole spot before the game takes away the anticipation. People have already seen it and will tune out since many of them have already shared it on Facebook or otherwise shared it with their friends. Eventually if more advertisers jump on this bandwagon then there’s little reason to advertise within the game, thereby taking away the reason many folks tune in and eventually driving down viewership, meaning the ads that do run receive less exposure. Since the Super Bowl is one of the last things on TV that everyone watches live that kills the Golden Goose.
Marketers are wise to look for social and online extensions of their traditional advertising, whether it’s for the Super Bowl or any other campaign that’s being run. But going all-out and releasing the entire spot does the audience and the brand a disservice.