Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super Bowl Ads?

If you read this blog, you likely already care less about the Saints versus the Colts than you do about Super Bowl ads versus Social Media marketing. After all, the real money isn't earned from the battle on the field but in the battle that occurs during timeouts: Each player on last year's winning team earned a bonus of $83,000 while NBC earned around $213 million in ad revenue for the telecast.

A shift is occurring in the relative importance to marketers of Social Media and Super Bowl advertising.  Of course, the 2010 Super Bowl isn't the first we've seen of the marriage of Social Media and Super Bowl ads. Last year, Doritos struck gold with a UGC (User-Generated Content) ad produced by two unemployed brothers, and the brand is back this year with more UGC ads competing for even greater prize money.

But this year, there's a difference:  The first evidence that the world has changed between Super Bowl XLIII and XLIV came from Pepsi's news it would not advertise during the big game; instead the brand is opting to invest its marketing budget in a Social Media marketing program called Pepsi Refresh.  Many of us in the Social Media business were a bit shocked by this, not because Pepsi saw the importance of Social Media marketing but because they saw it as an alternative rather than an adjunct to their Super Bowl ad campaign.  As I said to 1to1 Media at the time, "There was a part of me that was a little surprised that (Pepsi) didn't think about layering a social media program on top of a Super Bowl ad."

My Super Bowl XLIV PredictionImage by Michael Kwan (Freelancer) via Flickr

While Pepsi is to be commended for using the "Social Media vs. Super Bowl ads" hype for terrific PR advantage, the fact is that advertising and Social Media go together like brats and beer.  Advertising is great at raising awareness to a mass audience, while Social Media marketing is perfect for building deeper relationships and influence.  The two are mutually beneficial, not mutually exclusive.

This paired benefit is not lost on other brands; in fact,the first sentence of the New York Times article says it all, "Coca-Cola is telling Pepsi-Cola that when it comes to Super Bowl advertising, you can walk and chew gum at the same time."  Coke is one brand that will use its Super Bowl ad to promote its Facebook program, http://facebook.com/livepositively, where consumers can send virtual goods and earn Coca-Cola donations to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  Audi is another Super Bowl advertiser that is using their valuable ad time to drive consumers into a Social Media venue;  their "Green Police" ads direct consumers to the Audi YouTube channel where the humorous ads can be viewed, rated, and shared.  On Twitter,Unilever will be engaging people who tweet about their Dove Men+Care ads in real-time during the game and E*Trade will be directing viewers to BabyMail, a site to send e-mail messages using voices that simulate baby talk.

And this is where the interesting shift in the recognition of Social Media marketing is evident:  Last year, brands used Social Media marketing mostly to develop content for and promote their Super Bowl ads, but this year Super Bowl ads are being dedicated to the support of larger Social Media marketing strategies.  The servant has become the master.

The reason for this shift is obvious:  Consumer habits are changing.  Back in 2007, Forrester's North American Social Technographics Online Survey found that only 25% were Joiners--people who maintained a profile on social networking sites.   In 2009, that figure had risen to 59%.  The shift in consumer media consumptions is continuing, and this year's Super Bowl will not be the end of the evolution of marketers' budgets and strategies toward Social Computing.


re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Another nice piece of work from you..however do you think that somewhere it is non-ethical. Using the society for your marketing benefits?

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

IMO I don't think there's any unethical practice involved with social media marketing. People on social media sites voluntarily disclose their personal information, so it doesn't seem too intrusive for companies to use this information to further segment their audiences. The attractive thing with social media is the interpersonal touch point that companies can create with their consumers, which creates a mutually beneficial relationship.

Advertising will always "use society" for personal benefits, however, social media allows for a better cooperative relationship between advertiser and consumer.

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Great post on an interesting topic. Not sure i'm in agreement about Coke's 'walk and chew gum' statement, tho. Coke is spending millions on the superbowl but donating only $250k to B&G Club, whereas Pepsi is spending $0 on the superbowl and funding millions for the refresh projects. Maybe Pepsi is trying to illustrate that spending such a large sum on a fleeting bump in brand awareness is a bit irresponsible in this day and age when brands have the opportunity to empower consumers to do good and make a difference.

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Manish, it will come as no surprise that I agree with Joe. I do not think Social Media Marketing is unethical. While the phrase "using society for your marketing benefits" might be stating it a little strong, the fact is that all (successful) marketing is about leveraging psychology and sociology for brand benefit. When used improperly--such as cigarette ads that ignored dangers while associating smoking with "coolness"--it can be improper and dangerous. But when used appropriately--understanding what matters to consumers and promoting a product that meets physical or psychological needs--it can be good for both consumers and brands.

Patrick, good thoughts on the Coke/Pepsi approach and the way they are leveraging Social for charitable giving. I still think Coke is "walking and chewing" at the same time by merging their advertising with a Social Media program, but the point that Pepsi is putting more money into the community (and should promote this) is well taken!

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

What this illustrates and what Pepsi and Coke have all of a sudden realized, (in different ways) is that indeed there is still and always will be value in traditional marketing. The difference is now you the marketer allow or create the ability and the channel to continue the dialogue AFTER the 60 second spot. Let's not forget that Pepsi is not abandoning traditional marketing per se, just realizing that there might be more life to a Super Bowl spot than just 24 hours later, by continuing and creating dialogue with its brand loyalists.

In a sense, I think Coke may have an advantage because though it does realize who the master is now, doesn't mean that you don't go out and find more foot soldiers...

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Thanks for the post. Your comment "Advertising is great at raising awareness to a mass audience, while Social Media marketing is perfect for building deeper relationships and influence. The two are mutually beneficial, not mutually exclusive." was right on!
Too many social media purist, fail to remember that mass media still has a huge influence on all other media. Yes, Social is great in having deep conversations and exchanges (I am only referring to online social here), but social media can/should be supported effectively by "targeted" mass media. TV, Radio, and all online channels can be bought/placed with strong targeting in mind. We see it in many clients, there is a 30-50% correlation (and attribution) between TV/Radio and online channels.
Social media and mass media should work together - and not be treated as mutually exclusive!

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Marc, love your comment about "foot soldiers." Thanks for extending the metaphor so well!

And William, I absolutely agree. Funny thing is that I was just making that same point with a reporter this morning. I've heard from many who are intrigued by the "advertising vs. social media" slant of Pepsi's announcement, but the real story is "advertising AND social media!"

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

It's interesting that you brought this up since I have come across quite a few posts (such as this one: http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=1XQDHE...) that took to analyzing the correlation between the Bowl and a wave of advertising.

Thanks for the post!

re: Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super

Excellent insight in this post. In my personal opinion, the people who combine social medial into their advertising strategy are going to retain a more loyal following. People are already aware of the brand and when they get a chance to see them on Facebook, Twitter and other websites, the relationship grows. Companies who employ social media also get increased interactivity from their customers. This allows for more promotional campaigns, events and incentive based selling. Great post, thanks for sharing.