Superbowl then and now

What is the Superbowl if not just one large commercial, interrupted by a game?

It’s also a demonstration of the problems marketers are facing in a multi-platform world.

There was a time when the superbowl really was super — in 1976 it drew 78% of households watching TV.  Nearly 8 in 10 people watching TV were watching the game, on the same channel.  It truly was an event shared by the country.  And if you wanted to see the game, you had to see the commercials.

After the game was over, people really talked about the game.  The newspapers the next day were mostly about the game, the commentators on TV were commenting about the game.

That game is so over it’s hard to remember it even existed.

In the past few years the audience share of the Superbowl has been in the low 60s.  Still very high compared to anything else on network tv these days.  But hardly the commanding presence it was a generation ago.

But something else has changed.  I was experiencing the game through blogs, not TV.  Did I miss something?  I can download the ads or watch them on YouTube.  Or I can skip them entirely.  No longer is my experience of the superbowl controlled by the network.  

Along with those changes, is a change in focus.  Today the commercials have become a tremendous part of the superbowl.  The anticipation before and dissection afterwards is still mostly about the game.  But a whole lot of it is focused on the advertising.  The fake PETA ad.  The endless scoring of “this was a good ad” and “this wasn’t” is already exploding across the internet.  Everyone’s a critic!

The challenge has now become for the advertisers to dance with their audience across multiple platforms — blogs, mobile internet, YouTube, websites.  And, yes, network TV.  The nature of each platform is different.  What works on TV doesn’t work on a website.  How you communicate on a blog is different than how you communicate on YouTube.

Brand positioning tells you to use the same narrow message, with the same attribute, across all these different platforms.

This is one way in which Narrative Branding is different.  It is where having a strong narrative comes in.  The narrative unfolds across platforms.  It helps you identify the appropriate portions of the narrative for the relevant media.

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