Super Bowl ads reaching beyond TV screen

No longer satisfied with the buzz from expensive commercials, companies are creating content for smartphones, tablet computers and social media.
Published February 3 2012
Updated February 3 2012

Think back to the most thrilling moments of last year's Super Bowl, when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw his third touchdown or when the Pittsburgh Steelers tried for a last-gasp score with 2 minutes to go in the game.

Did you stop to ask yourself: How would the Coca-Cola polar bears react to this?

Didn't think so. Still, the soft drink giant will deploy an impressive amount of money and sweat answering that question during tonight's Super Bowl XLVI, uniting the television screen and any other platform you might use while watching the big game.

Surf to the website, and you'll see cute, computer-generated polar bears reacting in real time to every event in the game, with one animal wearing a red-and-white scarf for the New England Patriots and the other a white-and-blue one for the New York Giants.

Thanks to a team of writers, the bears can also respond to your tweets and Facebook messages in real time.

And when Coca-Cola ads air during the game, different versions will be chosen depending on which team is doing best at that moment.

Welcome to the latest attempt to hijack buzz from what could be the most-watched television event in history: The Super Bowl . . . of Advertising.

This year, rates for 30-second advertisements reportedly climbed to $3.5 million — up by more than $1 million from five years ago — to reach an audience topping 100 million viewers.

And with the financial stakes raised higher than ever, many marketers are turning to the buzz technology of the moment: smartphones, tablet computers and social media.

Forget about watching ads on the TV screen. Today's Super Bowl marketing is a war for access to your second screen.

"Sixty percent of people already have a second screen (in use) when watching the game," said Alison Lewis, Coca-Cola's chief marketing officer. "Our campaign unites all these screens together into one experience."

And they're not alone on this bandwagon. Chevrolet released its Game Time smartphone app which gives pizza discounts and dollars off NFL merchandise, while streaming game-related tweets, links to videos and a chance to win a free car.

The NFL will stream the game for the first time, allowing viewers to watch the action on a device which can also access tweets, Facebook messages and e-mail. Considering last year's game generated more than 4,000 tweets per second at its height, creating such platforms makes sense.

Advertisers hope buzz on social media translates into extended life for ad campaigns that they have spent millions to market and create.

So Coke's rival PepsiCo has tweaked its ad featuring Florida native and X Factor winner Melanie Amaro. Using the Shazam smartphone app, which identifies songs it hears, users can download a free video of Amaro.

Marketers also learned from last year's success. Back then, the most buzzed-about commercial, the Volkswagen ad featuring a kid dressed as Darth Vader, was released days before the game and became a viral hit, dominating best-of lists afterward.

So some of the most anticipated commercials are already available online via YouTube and Facebook, allowing certain cheeky critics to get a preview.

Eric Deggans can be reached at or (727) 893-8521. See the Feed blog at