Monday, January 25, 2010
Voting and the Super Bowl
Super Bowl advertising continues to evolve both in terms of who is advertising and the nature of the ads themselves. To the first point, it appears that at least to some extent the old guard is out, as venerable Super Bowl advertisers like Pepsi are out this year. The event is becoming a place where lesser-known brands, well, like Hyundai are choosing to make a big splash. In fact that may be what super bowl advertising is all about – creating an impact that otherwise would be difficult to achieve. Aligning a brand with such an important cultural ritual like watching the super bowl can skyrocket brand awareness. GoDaddy.com is one such brand that comes to mind. But for products like Pepsi, where awareness levels are already quite high, there isn’t much the Super Bowl can do for the brand. Pepsi has, this year, opted for a different route to brand building. To the second point, I’ve noticed the continuation of a trend in Super Bowl advertising that relates to this blog’s title – participatory advertising. There appears to be several if not many opportunities for consumers to vote in and around Super Bowl advertising. For example, in a previous blog post I pointed to Careerbuilder.com as a website where one could vote for their favorite commercial, the winner will air on the Super Bowl. Doritos has been employing this technique for three years and continues with its “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion. Voting is a cultural ritual that we usually think of when considering the election of political candidates. As advertising can also be considered a social practice--another term for ritual which I write about in my book Advertising in Everyday Life--it is perhaps understandable why advertisers want consumers to participate in advertising in a somewhat similar way as another cultural ritual – voting. The ability to step into the polling booth and cast your vote for a political candidate is a form of personal empowerment. This practice – voting – also works in the world of advertising where marketers want to empower consumers, at least on the symbolic level. So, the Super Bowl represents a unique opportunity to step into the polling booth, metaphorically, and vote for your favorite advertisement, becoming an empowered consumer. But to what end, I ask?