/// What Is The Cost Of Crowdsourcing Super Bowl Ads?
Crowdsourcing offers the general public an opportunity to be involved in the response to a particular problem. The result is typically the development of user-generated content (UGC), which has grown in popularity along with the rise of digital (particularly social) media. Brands have taken notice of the immense interactivity of crowdsourcing and have attempted to display their talents in procuring creative user-generated content surrounding the most watched event on television – the Super Bowl. That trend is likely to continue.
The Super Bowl signifies the end of the NFL schedule, and at its conclusion, a champion is crowned. Many spectators sitting at their home, a sports bar or popular Super Bowl party are not as interested in the game itself as they are in the oftentimes provocative and comical commercials. Brands and networks airing the Super Bowl have taken advantage of this rare opportunity that the game presents; a chance for companies to share their message(s) with an average U.S. audience of over 111 million. Of course it comes at a cost. CBS is airing the 2013 Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, and CBS spokesman Dana McClintock recently stated, “We don’t confirm exact pricing, since all spots are sold with different considerations and often in different packages, but it’s safe to say that spots are going for $4 million each, and in some cases more.” At that steep price, companies better be getting their money’s worth.
The question has to be asked – is it worth it for a company to use its 30-second Super Bowl ad spot on content that is the result of crowdsourcing? ”I think it’s only an okay idea for some brands and a bad idea for others,” said Steve O’Connell to Forbes.com. O’Connell, a Partner & Executive Creative Director at Red Tettemer + Partners continued, “The main risk is when a brand has a real message they want to say about a product or a strategy that they want to introduce to people … they run into trouble when they introduce it to the crowd.”
Without a doubt, the most popular crowdsourcing related to the Super Bowl has been developed by Doritos. The chip company has made a name for itself through its “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which allows anybody to record and submit a video featuring the Doritos brand for a chance to win $1 million and have their submission featured during the Super Bowl. The winning advertisements typically rank among the top of the USA Today Ad Rankings and Doritos benefits from the buzz and social interactivity leading up to the selection of winning ads.
Steve O’Connell sees Doritos as the clear exception to his belief that most brands should stay away from crowdsourcing surrounding the Super Bowl. ”With something like Doritos, there isn’t really anything the client wants to say other than ‘Doritos are tasty’,” explained O’Connell. ”All you need is a fun joke. For other clients who are not their category’s leader – they have to explain why you should buy their product over someone else’s or why you need that product – something that can’t be handled by the crowd.”
But more and more companies are turning to crowdsourcing, with Pepsi and Lincoln soliciting input from the public-at-large in their Super Bowl ads for this year. A new entrant into the crowdsourcing scene is Dunder Mifflin, a make-believe brand found in the NBC television series The Office, which was made a reality in 2011 when Quill.com began creating and selling paper under the Dunder Mifflin name. Awards from $1,000 to $15,000 are being offered for the funniest and most entertaining submissions.
While Steve O’Connell may not support the tactics of these new entrants, other professionals in the advertising space are not as steadfast to shun the practice of crowdsourcing. ”I don’t think in a vacuum you can deem [crowdsourcing] right or wrong,” said Zambezi Co-Founder and Managing Director Chris Raih to Forbes.com. ”People are harder and harder to reach, and we live in an attention-based economy where attention is the most valuable commodity there is. If the end goal is to get people to engage people with the brand, then crowdsourcing is the way to do it. We are going to see more and more of this.”
Crowdsourcing will likely continue for some time, particularly in relation to the Super Bowl, because on the surface it seems like a good idea for a lot of companies. After all, they are getting cheap, if not free, ideas from the consumers they intend to reach with the message they wish to see and hear. Additionally, it obviates some of the worry that the target audience will simply skip or glance over the commercial, negating the desired impact of the spot.
“Crowdsourcing gives a brand a longer window of time to be present, as opposed to spending $4 million for a 30-second spot, which is such a big investment; brands have to market the marketing,” explained Raih. ”A longer shelf-life crowdsourcing program gives you more like 2 months of run.” But O’Connell responds that while crowdsourcing has picked up over the past 5-7 years, he thinks the technique has plateaued, because there has not been that much success with it. It seems as though companies will have to determine on a case-by-case basis whether crowdsourcing is a viable component of their marketing mix. In the meantime, more brands will likely give it a shot, likely without garnering the success that Doritos has achieved in the recent past.