Hot in 2007, UGC Takes Bleacher Seat at This Year’s Super Bowl

The Super Bowl remains a bastion of advertising largesse and this year’s event promises to be no different. But while last year brands turned to the Web to challenge consumers to create their marketing content, or even shared previews of their ads to generate additional buzz leading up to the big game, this year’s crop of ads has less of an interactive advertising approach.

The 2007 Super Bowl famously included Doritos ads created by users, and pregame online previews of ads from Garmin, Nationwide, GoDaddy and other advertisers. But with less than three weeks left, many advertisers are saving their offerings for the big day.

Following its UGC ads last year, Frito Lay brand Doritos has shifted to music with its “Crash the Super Bowl” challenge. In October the brand invited unsigned musical artists to submit songs with “bold” themes and received 352 submissions. The company and its partner Interscope Records, selected 10 songs and artists that were then voted on via MySpace. The winning artist’s song will be aired during the game.

“This year we wanted to do something that had never been done. So we evolved the program to be about music,” said Jared Dougherty, a Frito-Lay spokesperson. “We’re not going for traditional clicks here, we want engagement from consumers.”

In addition, several advertisers that offered previews of their ads, including Garmin and GoDaddy.com, will only air their new ads online on game day.

“I’m seeing a decline [in interactive elements] compared to last year,” said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing office for Cymfony, a brand monitoring company. “We’ve been tracking all this stuff for a month and a half, and the volume of traditional online discussion and media coverage is a lot lower than last year.”

The decline in interactive elements and user generated content may be because advertisers don’t want to duplicate last year’s efforts, said Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of Nielsen Online Strategic Services, who is overseeing its Super Bowl ad evaluation program, and is also a ClickZ columnist.

“There were definitely some watershed elements of last year, especially around the contest and promotion to create your own ad,” he said. “At the same time… for a lot of advertisers that idea has been tried and doesn’t have the potential to have the same return as something that’s more original.”

Some Super Bowl advertisers are adding interactive elements to their ad campaigns. For instance, Pepsi and Amazon.com are offering millions of songs through Amazon MP3, and the National Football League is soliciting online voting on ads featuring its players.

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