Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story

This year marketers are paying a record $4 million for a :30 second Super Bowl ad to reach a record of over 111.3 million viewers. Yet, for that money it’s not enough, advertisers need their ads to go viral. Knowing what makes a Super Bowl ad buzz worthy is important in this high stakes marketing event. There are a lot of predictions and theories out there, but research my colleague and I conducted found that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

What does William Shakespeare have to do with Super Bowl Commercials? Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found a significant relationship between dramatic form and favorability in consumer Super Bowl ad rating polls such as USA Today’s Ad Meter and Spotbowl.com. The research pulls from Aristotle’s Poetics and “Freytag’s Pyramid” five act plot structure popularized by dramatist such as Shakespeare to reveal the power of story.

Super Bowl Ads, Super Bowl Bowl Commercials, Super Bowl XLVIII, USA Today Ad Meter, Spotbowl.com, Freytag's Pyramid, Shakespeare, Dramatic Form, 5-Acts
A 5-Act Story Following Freytag’s Pyramid is The Secret to Super Bowl Ad Success.

According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts called acts, and these acts combine to form a dramatic arc: Inciting Moment, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Moment of Release. We found that consumer ratings were significantly higher for commercials that follow a full five-act dramatic form compared to commercials that did not. Additionally, the more acts commercials had (3 versus 2) the higher the ratings.

Based on this analysis and advancement of narrative theory, my prediction for this year’s Super Bowl ad winner will be Budweiser’s Puppy Love. Viewers favor ads with dramatic plot lines. Plot is what Aristotle emphasized in Poetics as early as 335 BC.

The power of story has already drawn 30 million views on YouTube and significant press coverage for “Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial — ‘Puppy Love'” two days before the actual game and official airing of the spot.

“What Makes A Super Bowl Ad Super for Word-of-Mouth Buzz?: Five-Act Dramatic Form Impacts Super Bowl Ad Ratings” is being published Fall 2014 in the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. The more complete a story marketers tell in their commercials the higher it performs in the ratings polls, the more people like it, want to view it, and share it.

What are your predictions for Sunday’s Super Bowl ad winners?

What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites

The term Best friends forever (BFF) is a close friendship developed by teenagers and young people. We may be friends with a few or a lot of social media sites, but I bet you have your favorite.

The Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update gives us a look into how social media use is evolving. As of 2013, 73% of online adults used social networking sites. Facebook was many people’s BFF in terms of number of users. But Pew Center Research also found that a striking number of users are now diversifying onto other platforms.

Results of the survey indicate that some 42% of online adults now use multiple social networking sites. What’s more, Instagram users are nearly as likely as Facebook users to check in to the site on a daily basis. Have you starting exploring personal, career, or business relationships beyond Facebook?SocialMediaSitesBut even this information from the Pew Center Research study can be limiting. It only looked at Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. We know there is a lot more out there. It seems that every month another social media star is rising. Lately you may have been hearing about SnapChat or Quora, and Digg reinventing itself and gaining ground. Plus, you can never count out Google+, which keeps adding features to gain users. Let’s face it, social media can be overwhelming.

The key to success is realizing you don’t have to be in every social media channel to see real results. How do you choose? Start by organizing them into categories. You probably have high school and college BFFs, family BFFs, Work BFFs and neighborhood BFFs. They are all your friends, but you do different things with each. Below are the main categories of social media that I have developed with a list of the main players in each

Social Media Categories:

Social Networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+

Blogging and Forums – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr

Microblogging  – Twitter, Pinterest

Media Sharing – YouTube, Flikr, Instagram

Geo-location – Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google+ Locations

Ratings and Reviews – Yelp, Citysearch, Google+ Local

Social Bookmarking – Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg

Wikis and Social Knowledge – Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers, Quora

Podcasts – RSS, iTunes

For personal, business, or career, you have to decide who you want to talk to and what you to say and how you want to say it. Wikipedia says BFFs are common when you are young, but you may grow out of them as you get older. Perhaps it is time you grew out of your social media BFF and start exploring some of these other options.

Research Says Add New Media, But Don’t Drop The Old: Study Of Over 400 Successful Marketing Campaigns.

Last fall my colleagues and I published research in the International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications. Our study “IMC and The Effies” analyzed integrated marketing communications touchpoints used in 421 Effie Award-winning campaigns from 1998-2010 – campaigns awarded for marketing effectiveness.

In case you are not familiar with them, Effie Award-winners are proven success stories. Each campaign has supported its effectiveness with verifiable data that demonstrates it has met its marketing and advertising objectives. As indicated below, what we saw was an increased use in the number of marketing touchpoints from roughly two (such as TV and print) to six (such as TV, print, radio, PR, Interactive, Consumer Involvement).

The Number of Touchpoints for a Successful Effie Campaign has Increased
The number of consumer touchpoints for a Successful Effie Campaign has Increased

Of those communications touchpoints, public relations, interactive marketing, guerilla marketing and consumer involvement showed noteworthy increases over time. Over the last 13 years, marketing has changed dramatically and the practice of IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) has increased greatly. Successful Effie Award marketing has increasingly used more multimedia communications campaigns and less single-media touchpoint campaigns.

Effie Awards
Traditional media used to rule, but now new media is a key ingredient to marketing success.

What can we learn from this? 

First, marketing campaigns should be built on multimedia touchpoints. I talk a lot about the power of social media, but what you will notice here is that interactive (social media) alone is not the key ingredient to success. Traditional media such as TV is no longer the dominate medium, yet it has not gone away. Integrated multimedia efforts are needed today to break through the media clutter and reach an increasingly fragmented audience. Have you been so caught up in the social media hype that you have forgotten traditional advertising media?

Second, public relations and interactive media play an increasingly important role in effective campaigns and should be considered as a part of an integrated multimedia marketing campaign. It’s hard to ignore digital efforts, but are you leveraging PR to its full extent? Public relations is especially important for Startups. Can you hold an event around your product or campaign? How can you turn your marketing into a news story? I saw Alex Bogusky speak at an AWEEK Creativity conference years ago and he said CP&B always tried to create PR-able Advertising. The result was viral successes such as BK Subservient Chicken to their Mini campaign.

Finally, our study over 400 successful campaigns gave another insight. In addition to public relations and interactive media, marketers should also consider direct email, design, cinema, sponsorships, guerrilla, and consumer involvement media. Any surprises here? You’re probably using email, but what about sponsorships? Sponsoring local activities ties into PR and event tactics. Sponsoring non-profit / charity events that your target cares about taps into the increasing influence of cause marketing. Consumer involvement is word-of-mouth, consumer generated media and viral, which should be the fuel adding to your integrated flame.

The Super Bowl is a prime example of these changes – watch the TV ad hype leading up to the game in the next couple of weeks. Even though the Super Bowl is one of the last remaining mass media outlets, advertisers now depend on pre- and post-game public relations and digital media tactics to generate buzz outside the actual broadcast. Successful marketers who have won Effie Awards are adding more communication touchpoints over the years, but not dropping traditional outlets. So as we continue to hype up new media, don’t forget the old.

The 12 Ways of Brand Community Value: My Year End Social Media Tips List

A couple of years ago some professors conducted research published in the Journal of Marketing. Using social practice theory, they studied 9 brand communities from various product categories to discover 12 common practices consumers realize value beyond what firms create or even anticipate. I thought I would take some time to explain these practices with examples, but also ask you to consider whether you are leveraging these insights to optimize collaborative value creation. Through these 12 practices, consumers can affect the entire marketing mix, enable brand use and encourage deeper community engagement.

1. Welcoming – Greeting new members and assisting in brand learning and community socialization. Welcoming can also be negative and discourage participation. When I started following @JHUCarey they sent a quick note welcoming me to their Twitter brand community with, “@Kquesen Great to connect with you! Looking forward to your tweets. 🙂 ”

2. Empathizing – Lending emotional support to other members, including support for brand-related trials (product failure) or life issues (job). Apple’s new version of Keynote is simplified, but also deleted features upsetting Apple community members. Here is one member empathizing with those trials starting by saying, “Relax and breath.”

3. Governing – Explaining behavior expectations within the brand community. I return to Apple Support Forums for their governing example. The Community Etiquette guidelines are simple, yet enforced. One member remarked how his first post expressing frustration over Keynote ’13 was removed for obscenities. He removed them and the comment was returned to public view.

4. Evangelizing – Sharing brand “good news” and inspiring others, which may involve negative comparison to competing brands. This summer the Android Community website published a blog post evangelizing Android, “iPhone 5S specification rumor wrap-up: this is no Android competitor.” It spurred 26 emotional comments from brand enthusiasts.

5. Justifying – Rationale for devoting time and effort to the brand. Lego Certified Professionals does a great job of justifying more time spent with the brand by explaining their existence as “… a community-based program made up of adult LEGO hobbyists who have turned their passion for building and creating with LEGO bricks into a full-time or part-time profession.”

6. Staking – Recognizing variance within the brand community membership and marking intragroup distinction and similarity. Yahoo Answers provides staking with Top Contributor badges for its most active brand community members.

7. Milestoning – Milestoning is noting seminal events in brand ownership and consumption. When Facebook surpassed a billion users it was a big deal. The facesoffacebook.com is milestoning by cramming every user onto a single page of over 1.2 billion colored pixels that can be zoomed to reveal individual faces.

8. Badging – Badging is translating milestones into symbols. Samsung Nation is an online loyalty program that offers virtual rewards to consumers who talk up the electronics giant and offers badging such as a virtual “Twitterati” turquoise circle for posting links to samsung.com.

9. Documenting – Detailing the brand relationship journey as a story. Chipotle Grill’s “The Scarecrow” does an excellent job at documenting their brand story as over 11 million now know their commitment to food with integrity.

10. Grooming – Caring for the brand and optimizing use patterns. The Home Depot’s YouTube Channel is a great place for grooming the brand’s “You Can Do It” image including their “How to Tile a Bathroom” video with over 1.3 million views.

11. Customizing – Modifying the brand to suit group or individual needs by changing factory specs or enhancing performance. NikeiD has built a community around customizing by allowing “you to personalize your performance, fine-tune your fit and represent your style.”

12. Commoditizing – Recommendations directed at other members or at the firm (you should fix this/do this/change this) improve products brought to the marketplace. Five years ago Dell brought commoditizing to a new level with IdeaStorm, which has received nearly 15,000 suggestions and has made 500 refinements based on them.

That is my year end top 12 list. I hope you found practices to implement this year that will add value and increase engagement in your brand communities.