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Kim Dushinski

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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

Super Bowl XLV Mobile Commercials …or Not


In my third annual Super Bowl Mobile Hits and Mobile Misses analysis I am going to start with the mobile misses – pretty much all of the advertisers. I sat there watching each commercial with anticipation and my cell phone handy and ready to take action when directed and almost nothing happened. Really?!?

At first I was shocked. After three years of thinking this will finally be the year when the commercials start to use mobile as the effective direct response tool it can be; I had a huge realization. Super Bowl commercials are not wired for direct response at all. They are all about branding and impact and award winning and the water cooler effect. It is almost as if people laughing and talking is enough for these brands.

Maybe that is just the way it is always going to be. However, I think that is a crying shame. After all if you are going to spend millions of dollars why not ensure a measurable response? Why not have a text message call to action that stays on the screen the entire spot and get millions of opt-in subscribers for your mobile or email database?

This would effectively extend the reach of that ad well beyond the day or two of water cooler effect. By the end of this week the remembrance factor on these commercials will be nil. (OK, that Doritos finger sucking one will probably stick with us all for a lot longer than we want it to.)

But if there were a brand that could send out a text message coupon this coming Friday to millions of people who had opted in …that brand would be remembered. That brand would literally be in the palm of the hands of millions of Americans. They would be raking in measurable response days after everyone else’s commercial was a distant memory.

And that response could carry on ALL YEAR LONG. By the time Super Bowl XLVI was coming around they could even use that text message list to hype the new commercial. Oh my goodness, why do none of these advertisers grasp this?

Especially LivingSocial and Groupon! It seems to me that their businesses will live or die based on their opt-in lists. If their ads were better (not a burly guy turning into a cross dresser or a total slam on Tibet’s struggles) I propose it would have been possible for them to each grab at least a few million more email subscribers with a simple “Text your email address to this short code to sign up for daily offers” or “Sign up for daily deals now at”

To quote my favorite movie of all time, The Princess Bride, it is INCONCEIVABLE to me that this was missed. How much more money would these companies be making today with their daily offer? Tomorrow? Next week? The Wall Street Journal asks, “Who Won The Super Bowl – Groupon Or LivingSocial?” and I say neither one. They both lost. The opportunity cost on missing out on using mobile to build their emails lists is huge.

What about all the car companies…what if dealers across the country had lists of people who wanted to test drive a car they saw on a commercial? All it would take is a simple “Text your email address and zip code to this short code and a list of nearby dealerships will be sent to you.” Following up with hot prospects is a lot better than sitting around waiting for someone to come into the dealership.


OK, now on to the Mobile Hits. The big winner was the NFL – sort of. They had the most mobile calls to action in the whole game. They had a text call to action in the first half. By texting NFL to 8915 I would be able to get “News, Stats, Highlights and More.” This actually sounded exciting and compelling so I texted in.

Unfortunately, the only thing I got back was a message telling me that my message was sent using an invalid number of digits. I never got my news, stats highlights or more. Bummer. Wonder what happened with the short code. Was this a carrier specific campaign but not announced that way?

The NFL also did a very good job suggesting that logging in to to vote for the MVP could be done via mobile. That was great. Even as I write that I am so sad that this is the best use of mobile in the whole Super Bowl.

Another mobile win was, again, In their funny “go first” ad they suggest that sometimes going first is not all it is cracked up to be. When choosing a car it is best to see what others have already found out. The person doing the finding out was standing in a showroom using his mobile device to access to see reviews. Smart ad. Good use of suggesting mobile. Go First Ad


I feel compelled to mention the SalesForce commercial. Essentially the whole point of this commercial was that using their software via mobile would increase productivity. However, the whole thing was muddled up by the “Baby Peas” concept which was so weird. These commercials even made the top three disliked commercials.

It gives me great pleasure that the sexist domain seller commercials are also on that list. I refuse to even name them since they seem happy to have any attention and count it as reason to keep running these insipid ads.

Completely unrelated to mobile in anyway, I have to say that Budweiser (my favorite beer of all time) let me down by not having any good Clydesdale commercials. A cameo appearance in one commercial is NOT enough of the beautiful horses. Come on Bud!

And E*Trade, too, was a disappointment. I expect a lot from that talking baby and didn’t even crack a smile this year. That is almost as sad as mobile being missed by practically all the advertisers.

Denny's Free Grand SlamTuesday’s free Gland Slam breakfast was a huge success for Denny’s. Their creative and funny Superbowl spot created lines around the building at locations across the country. The restaurant chain is estimated to have served nearly 2 million of the free breakfasts in this one day giveaway.

But I can’t help but wonder what Denny’s is like the day after the big giveaway? While their business may be up due to more people thinking about having pancakes for breakfast, I am certain they don’t have lines around the buildings today.

Had Denny’s used a text message reminder option, as I mentioned in my Superbowl Mobile Ads and Mobile Misses video, they would have a way to reach millions of people today too (without the expense of another costly Superbowl ad). It might look like this:

Want another free Grand Slam breakfast? Join Denny’s Text Breakfast Club.
Receive a mobile coupon 4 a free Grand Slam w/o the crowds. Reply Y to sign up.

Bingo. Now they would have a nice steady stream of people coming in to get a second free breakfast over the next month (or however long they wanted to extend their offer.) This would get even more free publicity for the restaurant chain because no one else is doing this – YET.

When I say this was a “mobile miss” this is what I mean. The Denny’s Superbowl ad was a huge success. It could have been even bigger and long lasting had Denny’s leveraged the power of mobile.