Super Bowl 2012 was met with a giant ‘eh,’ (unless of course, you were a Giant). The game, while a close match-up, was decidedly lackluster; the commercials were mildly entertaining; and integrated marketing was often without effective execution. A report released yesterday by Altimer Group charted advertising trends from kickoff to finish, noting the traditional website emerged as the most prominent plug, yet nearly a third of ads linked to no site whatsoever and only a sixth promoted social media. Considering most of us turned to our iPads fifteen minutes into the first quarter, it seems like an opportunity was undeniably missed. So what were the results? 

What's Trending

Recognizing the significance of Super Bowl commercials in setting pace for the year, Altimer Group analyzed 87 advertisements throughout the game, identifying five emerging trends. Probably the most surprising finding of the report was that a majority of brands included no call-to-action, and while there was substantial mention of company websites, few incorporated social media into their campaigns. Furthermore, those that did think outside the box made some progressive moves, though not always productively.

Here are the specific trends:

  • Brands heavily invested in traditional urls
  • Many contained no call-to-action
  • Only a sixth of ads promoted social media
  • Hashtag marketing emerged to stimulate continual engagement
  • Progressive marketers attempted new tactics, including Shazam

In its analysis, Altimer Group concluded many brands believe their name alone was enough to spark awareness, thus generating hits to their sites not a primary goal. The research team noted, “We live in a Google world, consumers can readily find URLs without being prompted.” Additionally, by pushing viewers to engage through hashtags rather than Twitter or Facebook pages, a company aimed to inspire group interaction and ongoing conversation beyond the four-hour game duration.

Editor's NoteAlso read What Super Bowl Commercials Can Teach About Integrated Mobile Marketing

Perhaps, but are people really going to maintain meaningful discourse about Bud Light for the rest of the week? Skimming through a few of these hashtag efforts illustrated the talk wasn’t always positive, some tweets almost counterproductive to the mission. Bud Light promoted its #MakeItPlatinum tag, which garnered Tweets like “#Makeitplatinum doesn't make me wanna drink bud light, but does make me wanna use the hashtag.”

And in response to GE’s #whatworks initiative, one man tweeted “#whatworks doesn’t work.”

Then again, they say no press is bad press.

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Touchdowns and Interceptions

Madonna saw a spike in sales, but were brands similarly efficacious? As we discussed yesterday, targeting demographics at such a large-scale event can be difficult for advertisers, many of which have only recently begun to gauge social media. Edmunds.com did a focused analysis on auto advertisements during the game, determining Fiat, Lexus and Chevrolet garnered the most web traffic, with Fiat showing a 138 percent increase in model page views. Generally, the consensus appears to be M&Ms came out on top, their catchy scenario of a party faux pas spawning the highest number of Tweets and proving most efficient overall by a few metric calculators. Teleflora demonstrated a solid integrated marketing plan, featuring Brazilian model Adriana Lima, who tweeted a coupon code and call to action pushing viewers to online channels. In a Four Square promotion, Pizza Hut offered anyone who checked into the game a deal at the restaurant. As noted by Clickz.com, 175,365 people checked in before kickoff, with a total 303,445 by the end of the run.

Then there was GoDaddy.com, the notoriously scandalous advertiser who pulled in a lot of buzz for showing skin, yet was also the first to experiment with a QR code in its commercial. For the cloud-based product platform, the primary driver was to the company website, but the code created added incentive. When scanned, it allowed users access to an Internet-only extended version of their commercial along with discounts on products and services. Sheer curiously alone may have also brought some steam to the concept. We spoke to EVP Marianne Curran, who mentioned website traffic was off the charts, sales were on record, and the pre-game response was equally positive, as the code appeared in online media, such as The Wall Street Journal and Arizona Republic.

People scanned it early, I think just to see what would happen,” commented Curran. “Thankfully we had it set up well in advance, so users did get content when they scanned, even a few days before the game. Then, on Super Bowl Sunday, the content evolved to include our Internet-Only commercial.”

2012 Ad Rankings

GoDaddy.com did well in the rankings, even if a lot of the hubbub was negative. In a report by Collective Intellect and CNBC, who devised a virtual ticker coined the “Super Sunday Ad Tracker,” results matched most of the speculation. In terms of consumer engagement, M&Ms took 15.3% of the audience, followed neck-in-neck by Doritos (12.9%) and Chevrolet (12.5%), then dipping to the Avengers at 6.1%. Rounding out the top ten were Chrysler, Skechers, Volkswagen, Galaxy, Budweiser, and Audi. GoDaddy.com came in at #27 accruing 0.7% engagement. Though this sounds unimpressive, the large chunk in between ranged between 1-2%, so not terribly far off. Furthermore, in terms of overall buzz, the company ranked #9 overall, receiving 47,814 mentions across the online diaspora. Chevrolet struck first place with 143K mentions, closely followed by M&Ms.

The takeaway then: sex sells, even if it involves a nude chocolate character.