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What This Year’s Super Bowl Ads Said About the Industry

It has been nearly a month since the Big Game, yet there is still so much to disect when it comes to the featured ads. This year’s commercial lineup fell flat in many ways. There were a few highlights. A few critically praised ads included Radio Shack’s “The Phone Call,” featuring numerous 1980 celebrities and characters, Cheerios cute (and inadvertently controversial) “Gracie,” which depicts a pair of parents explaining the news of a new baby on the way to their young daughter by using the cereal, and, of course, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love,” featuring an adorable puppy and the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

Some collective duds included Maserati’s deep, curiously placed ad, Chrysler’s spot featuring Bob Dylan, and Axe’s “It’s Not War, It’s Peace.”

However, one overall lesson to be learned from this year’s commercials is that it’s not about what makes us laugh (or cry), it’s about what these commercials say about where the industry is going as a whole. For example, more than half (58%) of this year’s ads contained a hashtag. Many brands decided to forego associating themselves with a specific social network (mainly Facebook or Twitter), instead opting to stay neutral in the social war.

This fact can be interpreted a few different ways, but one of the most glaring conclusions is that, at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut favorite when it comes to social advertising and brands would be better off taking a careful look at their campaign objectives before committing to one (or both) social networks.

Brands saw more online activity during this year’s game than ever before. Website visits to advertiser websites outpaced regular traffic by 163% (15% more than last year). Smartphones and tablets also further solidified themselves as candidates for future growth. Total smartphone visits rose 110%, while Super Bowl related traffic on tablets peaked at 19%.

The use of hashtags and increased mobile traffic serves as a sign that even Super Bowl commercials, one of the most highly touted forms of marketing year after year, have to evolve. Given this year’s largely bland television ads, expect to see the interactive approach grow even more during next year’s Big Game.


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