Monday, October 15, 2007

Time for the Super Bowl Already?

It seems that the Super Bowl hype has already begun. FritoLay has already unveiled contest plans for this year’s event; this year you can create your own song. And it doesn’t even have to be about a Frito-Lay brand.

Click here to visit contest site.

If memory serves me correctly, 2007 was the first year that user-generated ads were aired on the game. Frito-Lay seemed satisfied with the results of their 2007 contest. The public vote for first place was apparently quite close, so they ran the top two commercials at an estimated cost of $2.6 million each. That’s quite an investment, but all the media hype and user attention probably made it worthwhile.

General Motors ran a similar contest after a bad experience with a Tahoe commercial promotion earlier in 2006. It was tightly controlled and included as many as eight “webisodes” including this one chronicling the winner. The webisodes are clearly aimed at the college student audience, the target of the contest.

Those are the only three user-created commercials to actually air during the game, as nearly as I can count. If you want to relive the experience, CBS still has all the commercials posted including Doritos “Live the Flavor” (first quarter) and “Check Out Girl” (second quarter) and the Chevy "Car Wash” (second quarter). The ads can be sorted by advertiser if you are a real history buff.

And if you are ready to get out your instruments, the Doritos contest goes live on October 25. It will be fun to keep an eye on it. It will be even more fun to watch what other advertisers do in the realm of user-generated advertising and content.

Perhaps the most fun of all will be watching what users do and say. A quick search for “Super Bowl 2007” on YouTube lists 1,160 posts, including banned advertisements from GoDaddy and Budweiser.

What does all the user-generated activity mean besides the fact that watchers seem to be posting video in addition to (instead of?) watching the game? How should advertisers monitor what is being said about them, especially at peak times like this? How can they listen to the voice of the consumer in this environment?

One final note. As I write this the baseball playoffs are taking place. Go Sox!! Verizon prepared for them in Boston by beefing up wireless service in and around Fenway park. They reported that over 267,000 text messages were sent during the Friday, October 12 game. Should we read meaning into this – or just relax and enjoy the game?
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