Future Fail: The Superbowl Social Media frenzy

imageFormer Microsoftie, Bruce Lynn, sent me this news story from USA Today heralding the launch of two new US-based social media campaigns around the Superbowl (6 Feb 2011). Both Mercedes and Audi have unveiled plans to reward their most active social media supporters with high value prizes including cars and “glitzy trips” in an effort to gain some cut through during the USA’s most watched and most commercially sponsored sporting event. With all TV ad inventory already sold out, some spots selling for in excess of $3 million, marketers are turning their attention to supporting channels and 2011 looks set to be the year of the Superbowl Social Media frenzy.

While details of Mercedes and Audi’s plans are not yet fully unveiled, it’s clear that investing in TV ad inventory alone, even if during the Superbowl, is no longer enough for any brand. Tapping into the subculture and buzz that surrounds your brand is also essential, as well as trying to positively influence how favourably people talk about your brand.

But there’s something worrying for me about the approach proposed by both car manufacturers. Giving rewards to people for sucking up to your brand and doing your promotional work for you doesn’t sound like a good path towards authenticity and long-lasting brand trust. This sounds like a fairly crude and unimaginative way to extend traditional marketing efforts into emerging channels that you don’t properly understand. It’s too early to say whether either effort will succeed or fail, but both are guaranteed a good deal of attention thanks to their high-cost association with the Superbowl. Social Media consultant, Pam Moore, is on the money for me though when she says “the tweets and Facebook “likes” that Super Bowl marketers all are glomming onto today will seem archaic in just a few years.” From where I’m sitting, they already look out-dated.