Super Bowl XLVI had MOBILE commercials!

For four years in a row I have watched the Super Bowl commercials with a specific plan of action – to critique the ads that have a mobile call to action. I have sat ready to participate with my mobile phone by my side and for the past three years have been sorely disappointed. Pointing out the mobile misses has been the primary focus of my last three years’ past Super Bowl columns. (See links to all previous years’ critiques at the end of this article.)

Finally, this year I am able to actually discuss three different mobile direct response calls to action that I saw during the game. I feel a bit giddy that this is even possible. I was beginning to despair that no one would ever put a smart mobile marketing direct response call to action in a Super Bowl commercial.

This year there were three ways viewers could use their mobile devices to respond to a variety of ads: via mobile app, text message and QR code. Let’s dive in…

Mobile App Interaction with Ads

First up is the Shazam-Enabled line up of ads. Shazam, a mobile app that allows users to tag music (turn on the Shazam app and hit the tag button on their device while a song is playing) and discover more about the song, the artist and more has expanded their service to include TV. They are calling it Shazam for TV (TM) and it is a brilliant concept.

By placing a tiny Shazam logo on screen during a show or ad spot, users of the app will know it is Shazam-enable and tag it with their app. This will give the viewer additional interaction, information and contact with the show or ad.

Shazam had several companies that were participating in these mobile-responsive ads during the Super Bowl. For a variety of reasons (not knowing which ads were taggable, wanting to spend time with my friends and family who were at our house for the SuperBowl party and new ads coming on every 30 seconds) I was only able to participate in one of the interactive ads. Fortunately, the campaign overall was done brilliantly.

First, the commercial…
Camry Effect: “Connections”

Notice that the Shazam call to action was only on screen for only 4 seconds. This is not long enough. A person reaching for their beverage or grabbing another chicken wing could so easily miss this. I would highly suggest that advertisers keep the call to action on screen for the entire commercial.

That said, once I did tag this ad with Shazam I was in for a wonderful mobile-friendly experience. Notice that the landing page within the app is perfectly designed for mobile and has great stuff. Right up top is my chance to win the Camry. Then I have the link to create my story, which ties in with the commercial itself – real people’s stories with their Camrys. I love the option to see the 2012 Camry and especially the call to action to receive updates.

This is exactly the kind of direct response an advertiser wants – names and addresses of people who saw the ad and are IN THE MARKET for this car. Brilliant marketing.

I really wish I had known which ads were Shazam taggable and I would have tagged more. Just this morning I found the list of taggable ads inside the first tag I made of the game itself. Could have used that yesterday – or more Shazam logos in the ads.

The good news is that Shazam reported a record breaking response to the ads and I am thrilled for them, for mobile marketing as a whole and for smart marketers who are seeking ways to get direct response from these highly over priced commercials.

Text Message Opt In Campaign during Super Bowl

I am also thrilled to share the first text message opt in campaign I have seen in four years of waiting for one. The NFL has done mobile interaction in the past, but this year they really stepped it up.

Check out their ad…
NFL Perfect Challenge

You’ll have to click through and watch it. I cannot find it as embeddable anywhere. But don’t do it now or you might forget to come back. I put the link at the bottom of the page. For now, just check out these pictures of the text message call to action.

The NFL had the call to action showing in almost the entire commercial in the upper right hand corner and then gave it a nice voice over announcement. Super smart. This gave me time to notice there was a text opt in, grab my phone and send the opt in text while the commercial was still on.

Then, they very smartly repeated the call to action several times during the game in transition screens. Granted, this is a luxury most advertisers will not get – repetition. All the more reason to get it right the first time.

It did take 17 minutes for me to get my reply message and I am assuming it is because there was a terrific response.

The message I got was OK. Nothing wonderful.

Although it was clear and to the point. The action they wanted me to take was tap on that link. I did.

Thankfully the page I was sent to via the text message was mobile friendly and captured my information to be notified when the new fantasy football game is launched.

Oh, I really want to know how many people are on that notification list. Wish I could find a press release about how well this campaign went, but I am not finding it. Probably everyone at the NFL is taking a well deserved nap today.

Am also a bit curious if I am only on an email list or if they will also text me. That is a bit unclear as the opt-in communication (i.e. the fine print) was entirely unreadable on screen. My best guess is that it was only about building an email list since there was no mention of how many messages I would receive per month and not STOP messaging in that text message.

So, my hats off to the NFL for smartly promoting their new Fantasy football game and using mobile to build their list.

QR Code Attempt

This last one causes me pain to mention because like the people who are only famous for being famous (folks who are married for 72 days as an example) this company will do anything for attention and I refuse to give it to them. So their name will not be mentioned by me and no link to their site will be forthcoming.

Likewise I am not going to embed their smarmy ad here on my site. But here is the screen capture.

Notice the tiny QR code on the lower left hand corner. Despite worries about what sort of nonsense might be put onto my phone from this company I quickly fired up my ScanLife app the second I saw the bar code and dashed toward the TV to get a scan. (Incidentally, my friends who were over for the game thought I was crazily trying to take a picture of the scantily clad women on screen by that point. Um, no.)

It simply didn’t work. And I have to say that usually whenever I get the ScanLife app anywhere near a functioning bar code, it works like a charm.

Just now when I was grabbing the screen capture for this post, I tried again and even in the calm environment of a frozen screen capture and unlimited time I could not make it work. Were you able to scan the code? If so, please let us all know in the comments what happened. Keep it PG rated please.

So, although they tried to get a mobile interactive response going with this code, which I applaud, they did not implement it successfully. Something I see quite often when it comes to QR codes. Quite possibly, a TV commercial is just not the right spot for a QR code.

Bottom Line: Successes and Failures

Thirty seconds goes by very fast and to compel a viewer to take action via mobile that fast you really need to do two things PERFECTLY – give them a compelling reason to do so and make it easy.

In this regard the QR code attempt failed completely. There was no reason given for scanning the code and it didn’t work once I tried. Sadly, they might as well not have tried this at all. Many in the Twitter stream (#sbads) seemed to think the same thing:

The Shazam taggable ads that did not include the Shazam logo failed as well because the vast majority of viewers had no idea there was even an action to be taken much less a compelling reason to do anything. You have to tell people what to do or they can’t do it. My best guess is that Shazam tried to get all their advertisers to understand this concept in advance of Super Bowl Sunday and were ignored or it was too late to get the logo in the ad. I am also guessing that it won’t take long for the smart marketers using Shazam to make their ads mobile interactive to figure it out.

The Camry ad mentioned above was a success. Winning a Camry is a pretty good reason to push a button on an app. It was easy to do (I didn’t have to leave my seat to do it) and it worked perfectly. The only thing this ad needed was the logo and the “Win a Camry” message on screen for longer. I also think that Shazam as a company could do a TON more pre-game marketing to get more people to download the app and be ready for all the fun mobile-interactive excitement.

The clear winner of Super Bowl XLVI Mobile Commercials was the NFL Fantasy Football campaign. Not only does text messaging work easily on virtually all mobile phones, but the ad gave a great reason to do it. The chance to win a million dollars is absolutely compelling. And the fact that the NFL repeated the call to action in additional mentions was perfect.

Three cheers for the NFL!

See my other Super Bowl columns here:

2009 Super Bowl Mobile Commercials
2010 Super Bowl Mobile Commercials
2011 Super Bowl Mobile Commercials
NFL Ad: The Perfect Challenge

1 Comment

  1. Hi Kim,

    I work with a company called BoomText, and we have a contract running the NFL’s text campaigns. While we’re not allowed to disclose the exact numbers of how many people participated yet, we do know that the NFL was EXTREMELY happy with the results. The call to action was clear and the NFL understood exactly what they wished to accomplish. We will have a full press release detailing results and participation rates (that we can), and will post the link on our Twitter account (@boomtext) when the numbers are finished and released.

    If you’d like to learn more about our company, check us out at

    Thanks for the kind words, and for participating!

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