is anyone outside of the marketing world really excited about the huge number of super bowl ads that are starting to premiere nearly a week in advance online before the game itself? seriously, if anyone is, please send me your name and correspondence so i can write you an insincere hand-written apology note.
because i’m not, and it makes me so angry - there’s so many ads that have premiered ahead of the super bowl this year, and besides exposing cheap creative and pandering groupthink ahead of time, it pretty much all but destroys what these brands have in terms of a media strategy surrounding the super bowl. i wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these brands & agencies decided together to leak these spots early in a sort of panicked avalanche to try and keep up with other brands that are doing the same. surprise, panicking is not a viable media strategy. it’s not a strategy at all. you’re wasting months of cumulated work in an effort to get ahead of the conversation, when the reality of it all is that your work’s conversation will already be over by the time the super bowl starts.
i get brand’s reasonings for leaking their spot early. you’re trying to get ahead of your competitors. the super bowl is a very-knowingly crowded block of ad space, the heaviest, busiest slot of ad space known to mankind, and that scares you. i understand that. but that’s why you don’t air a fucking super bowl spot unless you’re confident that your work will dominate and outshine the conversation of everyone around you. those 4.5 million dollars are supposed to be a gamble, so start treating it like one.
because leaking an ad early is becoming not just safe, but near cowardice. take t-mobile’s spot featuring kim kardashian: its format is that of a PSA, with kim faux-mocking herself for the good of t-mobile’s data stash program. the creative is hardly great, but it’s not terrible either - kim makes a good self-aware spokeswoman, and the joke has seemingly landed, positively, with a good amount of people. but the idea of the PSA, interrupting the big game, and even interrupting the ads around it, would have probably worked a lot better if its first viewing was during the game itself. it works alright on its own, but it’s not brilliant. and kim herself has already moved on - she went from promoting the ad two days ago to promoting her own game app today. her promotion would have been a lot stronger if it was first done on gameday, at least i think so. when your own spokeswoman is distracted by her own personal projects, what’s the point of trying to capitalize on her influence early? t-mobile even went so far as to give a sneak peek of the ad on conan, but the ad is a :30 spot!!! why are you teasing a :30 spot when you’re going to release the ad nearly a week in advance??? what’s the strategy here exactly? why????
another example that really gets to me is newcastle’s “band of brands” concept to try and crowdsource their big-time super bowl ad. the final ad is a really big mess, albeit a funny one if you’re in on the joke. it’s hard to see the hashtag that would probably help you direct your thought somewhere online, and the end logo itself is nearly impossible to read quickly and effectively if you’re not already aware the ad is done by newcastle. the ad has such a good idea behind it, and it’s a shame that the execution doesn’t really work as well as it should. but besides that, leaking it early is probably the worst decision they could have made. the ad is odd, potentially odd enough to break through the clutter of the super bowl and be talked about the day after by a lot of people. but this forward momentum that the brand would want with this sort of discussion is now nearly tainted, as the ad has really only sparked with big-time newcastle fans and ad junkies. the engagement on the video itself, the social media campaign that corresponds with it, and the website are all not getting nearly the attention these guys wanted. furthermore, since the buildup to this ad had so many parts already, including a doritos parody and another PSA featuring aubrey plaza, it feels like the ad online is already the end of the campaign. it feels over and done with, and that’s not good for newcastle, regardless of how well it may go over at the super bowl.
there’s plenty of other examples for me to dissect, but they mostly need the same advice: it can wait. by trying to get ahead of the game, you’re either proving to everyone that your ad’s creative is weak, or you’re posing the threat of having your ad’s conversation be over before the super bowl even starts. the super bowl is reserved nowadays for the big boys of marketing and advertising, which i’m okay with. they just need to act like it.