Monday, February 3, 2014
The #RTMBowl Post-Game Show: Real-Time Marketing Fumbled Last Night
Troy Acheman: Yes, Joe, and it could be we've witnessed the last of the #RTMBowls. I mean, brands scored fewer points than the Denver Broncos last night!
Duck: Ouch! But you may be right, Troy. The first #RTMBowl was fought just last year, and most marketers didn't even know it. When Oreo threw that Hail Mary and scored, it caused a lot of other brands to think they could toss the long ball, too.
Acheman: Yes, and this year many #RTMBowl brands were sloppy, shooting bricks and dropping the ball. It has to cause brands to reconsider the wisdom of fielding a team for next years' Super Bowl.
Duck: Perhaps, Troy, but never count out the optimism of marketers. It's easy to forget we get an eagle-eye view from the booth, but on the field, marketers too easily lose perspective and get caught up in the game.
Acheman: So true, Joe. It seemed when consumers showed little interest and engagement, brands quickly turned to tweeting each other. Newcastle tweeted GoDaddy, Butterfinger tweeted TurboTax, Tide tweeted Heinz, CarMax tweeted Bud, Toyota tweeted DiGiorno, Snickers tweeted JCPenney and on and on--there were so many brands tweeting brands that you had to wonder if they all shared the same agency!
Acheman: I guess stumbling around like a drunk is one way of getting tweets, but it doesn't seem like a way of earning trust for the struggling retailer. Joe, what did you think when the brand revealed they were joking and tweeting with mittens on?
Duck: It seemed as if JCPenney was admitting it had nothing to say and was desperate for attention. The company claimed this was an effective way to create its own "narrative," but brands are supposed to do more than be talkable--they're supposed to change minds or consumer behaviors! It may have earned the retailer a few critical and confused tweets (and several thousand new followers), but I can't see any fans heading to the store as a result of that social media miscue. So, Troy, did you see any brands putting points on the #RTMBowl board?
Acheman: Sure, some brands got a little attention. Buffalo Wild Wings telling folks they "Didn't have a button" to reset the awful Super Bowl game was funny and on brand. And DiGiorno Pizza earned 17,000 retweets by mining the same vein of humor, cracking that the game, like their pizza, was "done after twenty minutes."
Duck: Funny, Troy, but did those tweets sell any wings or pizza? Let's find out by going to Spam Oliver in the aisles of a grocery store. Spam?
Spam Oliver: I have with me two consumers purchasing frozen pizza. Sir, I see you're buying a DiGiorno pizza. Was it because of their tweet?
Consumer #1: DiGiorno has a Twitter account? I had no idea.
Oliver: And you, ma'am. You have a competitor's pizza. Did you see the DiGiorno tweet?
Consumer #2: Yes, I saw it. I even retweeted it. But just because a frozen pizza brand made a funny on Twitter doesn't mean I'll change my buying habits. I'm buying the brand I always buy. Maybe if DiGiorno spent a little less effort trying to be funny and a little more telling me why I should try their brand or giving me a promotion to do so, that may have an impact.
Oliver: And there you have it--the difference between engaging with a brand on Twitter and engaging with the brand where it matters--in store aisles. Now, back to you Troy and Joe.
Acheman: So, Joe, do brands score when they get #RTMBowl retweets?
Duck: I think the issue here is that well-known brands are settling for tactics that drive awareness. DiGiorno and BW3 already have high awareness among their target audience, so what they need to do is drive more trial and traffic. For a farm-league brand, awareness can be vital, but these brands are already in the big league and settling for minor-league impact. To me, the bigger story isn't the few brands that succeeded with minor 'viral' success but the many brands that simply were unable to convert on third down.
Acheman: You're right, Joe. An awful lot of brands were essentially ignored by consumers. For example, among marketers self-congratulating each other in the #RTMBowl Twitter stream, a lot of praise was directed toward Tide for its Vine posts, but the attention from consumers was almost non-existent. Tide's Vine about Heinz Ketchup earned fewer than 40 retweets on Twitter and got less than 60 shares to Twitter and Facebook. The brand's witty takeoff on the Pepsi halftime and Janet Jackson did better, but it still was only good for 220 retweets on Twitter and 300 shares off of Vine.
Duck: Oof, that was some hit to Tide. A brand that big is used to buying hundreds of thousands of impressions at a time. It's hardly worth the brand's time to post for a few hundred shares. And of course, while some folks claim that earned media is 'free,' it actually has a cost, doesn't it, Troy?
Acheman: You bet, Troy. Consumers produce Vine videos for nothing, but Tide worked with an agency, developed creative, sought reviews and approvals and staffed a team to see awful little engagement. That's a lot of effort and cost for a mammoth P&G brand to reach a few thousand eyes. I've seen better social media results for mom and pop shops!
Duck: And Tide was hardly alone. Arby's scored big a week earlier with a funny Grammy's tweet about Pharrell's hat, but its joke about "turnovers" during the Super Bowl garnered just 100 retweets. Radio Shack tried to extend their 80s-themed ads into social media, but few of their tweets about Cabbage Patch dolls or Star Wars lunchboxes earned more than three dozen retweets. Toyota tried the same strategy with their popular Muppet ads, but their posts generally got fewer than 50 retweets. Think about that--brands spent $4 million to get a single ad in front of 97 million people during the game, and they still couldn't leverage that into social media posts that that engaged more than a few dozen people apiece.
Acheman: You're right, Joe. No brand can economically drive any marketing success with that kind of low response rate. Even with "free" media, national brands can't win games by reaching a hundred people at a time with marketing.
Duck: That's true, which is why the big winners of the night were two brands that stayed home. Oreo, the brand credited with launching the real-time marketing craze, opted out with a tweet encouraging fans to enjoy the game.
Acheman: Classy move, Joe, but I preferred Progressive's trick play, which managed to make the other brands competing in the #RTMBowl look desperate for even trying. The @ItsFlo account tweeted before kickoff, "What do car insurance and football have in common? Nothing. Talk to you after the game!"
Duck: Yep, while other brands tried to jump into consumer conversations or make themselves talkable, Progressive demonstrated more care for the consumer by what they didn't tweet. The brand let its intent speak louder than its content.
Acheman: And there you have it, marketing fans. This year's #RTMBowl was a bust--very few brands got a lot of tweets and shares with dubious impact; some brands fielded teams with little to show for it; and a few brands opted out in smart fashion. I predict more brands will follow the lead of Progressive and Oreo in the future.
Duck: Well, Troy, we will know soon enough--the Oscars are just a few weeks away, and I can already hear brands American Hustling to get some social media Gravity to appease the Wolfs of Wall Street.
Acheman: Heh heh. And with that, we bid you a good night. Tweet safely, everyone!