Super Bowl Advertisers Are MIA on Facebook

Only half of the brands that purchased Super Bowl commercials – $3 million per :30 – have been turning to Facebook to build social media buzz leading up to the game.

Some firms, like Tru TV (2,700 Facebook “fans”), don’t have large communities already built to hype their appearances. However it seems others with significant existing audiences are missing an opportunity to get the biggest buzz for their buck.

For instance, Taco Bell hasn’t teased its spot in the last month to the brand’s considerably active community of more than 785,000 Facebook “fans.” (To be clear, “tease” means when brands author posts about their TV spots, offer trailers/sneak previews on Facebook, or show the entire commercial on the social site.)

But whether or not brands should tease their ads is debatable, said Bryan Eisenberg, an online marketer. “If they can deliver on their promise of a ‘good’ ad, then they will be golden,” he explained. “If they promise something cool and exciting, they will just set off a flame war of how ‘lame’ their ad is.”

At the same time, Eisenberg cited as a Super Bowl advertiser that has successfully harnessed buzz – positive and negative – online in recent years. The domain registration site is at it again, posting on Facebook and Twitter the commercial that CBS reportedly rejected for being too racy as well as the spots running in its place.

Marianne Curran,’s VP of social media, said sharing the Super Bowl commercials via social networks results in a positive viral effect. “We’ve found our social community to be big influencers,” she said. “They are passionate about our brand and help quiet or convert [brand] skeptics.” is one of the 20 Super Bowl brand advertisers (out of about 40 total) using Facebook to promote their spots. Interestingly, Volkswagen, HomeAway, and E*Trade have each established Facebook “fan” pages for the characters they’re employing in their ads. Nick Utton, E*Trade’s CMO, said he views the game event as a larger platform – rather than a standalone spot – that can build social media presence.

“While a hundred million people will watch the Super Bowl, there are numerous other occasions when consumers can and do interact with brands via Facebook, smartphones, YouTube, Twitter, etc.,” he said. “Our Super Bowl commercials are much more than a :30 spot; they’re part of a completely integrated marketing campaign that spans television, print, and online media.”

Early this week, Snickers posted on Facebook a :19 trailer for its Super Bowl ad starring Betty White and changed its profile picture to a headshot of the legendary comedic actress. The trailer ends with, “Watch the Super Bowl and find out.”

Ryan Bowling, a communications director for Snickers, suggested that teasing the spot would help build social media loyalty among “fans,” while encouraging future brand-consumer interactions. “The reasons for this effort were two-fold: [First], ensure that our ‘fan’ base knew to tune in during the first commercial break of the Super Bowl to see our new spot. [And second], give our ‘fans’ something special for continuing to engage with the brand online and share the news with their friends.”

Web marketing consultant Brian Massey said the impact social media efforts can have in the hours and days following the game shouldn’t be underestimated. “The missed opportunity here is building a community that would be in place after the Super Bowl, when viewers [want] to see what others thought of the spots,” he said. “Twitter may not be a good match for many advertisers, but putting up a Facebook page that could be a honey pot of attention for the ad makes sense for almost all demographics now.”

Meanwhile, few Super Bowl advertisers have consistently used Twitter to promote their spots. Boost Mobile and Denny’s have been the most active with the former tweeting trailers for its commercial and the latter hyping the one-day free breakfast initiative it will promote during the game.

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