Snickers’ Pre-Release Strategy Marks Another Chapter In Super Bowl Ad Evolution

Snickers releases its 30-second Super Bowl spot after netting 2.5 million social media engagements.

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For what it says is the first time in company history, Mars Chocolate North America has released one of its Super Bowl spots prior to the game “due to a groundswell of requests from fans on social media eager to see the latest ‘You're Not You When You're Hungry’ spot.”

The practice of pre-releasing Super Bowl ads, of course, is nothing new. At least 20 brands have released teasers and/or full spots leading up to the February 1 matchup.

But Mars’ Snickers brand put a slight spin on it this year, releasing a teaser on January 21 along with messaging that it was “empowering” fans to “reveal the full commercial prior to Super Bowl Sunday” by watching the teaser on the brand’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages, as well as liking, commenting, sharing or re-tweeting the video or using the hashtag #EatASnickers. In a press release, Snickers said that if consumers “[generated] 2.5 million social media engagements” prior to the game, it would release the full 30-second spot early.

The teaser, which features a recreation of the “iconic” Marcia Brady hair brushing scene from “The Brady Bunch”, stars actor Danny Trejo as “a gruff, hostile version of Marcia who doesn’t at all resemble the girl next door when she’s hungry.”

The teaser has 2.8 million views as of January 29, which is when Snickers posted the full spot.

A Snickers rep said the brand would have counted all likes, views and comments, but achieved the requisite 2.5 million engagements on YouTube alone.

Per social search and analytics firm Topsy, #EatASnickers generated about 650 tweets between January 22 and 29.

According to Snickers, the full 30-second commercial, created by BBDO New York, builds on the premise established in the teaser, “[showcasing] how even America’s most square family – The Brady Bunch– can become out of sorts when hungry.” It will air during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX.

“We’ve learned that Super Bowl season extends well beyond the game, which is why we gave the keys to our fans to unlock the commercial early,” said Allison Miazga-Bedrick, director of the Snickers brand, in a prepared statement.

Indeed, more than 50 percent of Super Bowl ad views last year occurred before the game, according to Google data.

But because YouTube videos can be promoted so some views can come organically and others can come from the ad budget behind the video, Greg Jarboe, president of internet marketing services firm SEO-PR, points to Unruly’s Viral Video Chart as a better measure of a video’s relative success than views alone. That’s because it ranks brands’ social videos worldwide based on the number of times content has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogosphere, he said.

“Based on the latest data, the Snickers video got 16,723 shares in the past seven days, ranking it #5 out of the Super Bowl videos that have been pre-released,” Jarboe said. “That’s above average, so I’d count that as a ‘success.’”

Snickers’ spin on the early release move is the latest chapter in the long-running evolution of Super Bowl advertising.

Calling the Super Bowl a “tentpole event,” Kristin Kovner, president of K-Squared Strategies, notes that pre- and post-game engagement on YouTube has dwarfed the reach and frequency available during the game alone for years.

“You could credit Newcastle with this strategy, but I think the E-Trade baby was really the first to make this a winning strategy – by releasing ‘outtakes’ and additional content the brand was able to grow awareness while building excitement for it ads,” Kovner said.

Since then, other brands have also tried to break through the noise with their own distinctive pre-release strategies. Tessa Wegert, communications director at digital marketing agency Enlighten, points to Coca-Cola, which, in 2013, asked fans to vote online for the outcome of its Coke Chase ad. This, she says, is just another example of a brand experimenting with ways to make the Super Bowl ad experience more interactive.

Snickers says it debuted its first “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ad featuring Betty White in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

For his part, Dave Surgan, associate director of mobile and social platforms at R/GA, notes that Snickers was also able to extend the reach of its 2015 spot by providing custom experiences for various brand touch points including a cinemagraph and multiple variations of video creative that performed well in social.

“There was also a fun and weird out of home stunt that took place and [drew] additional people into the campaign,” Surgan said. “The stunt was captured through photos and GIFs to bring the stunt to life in digital.”

Further, Surgan notes that depending on the creative and story, brands should always consider teasing and extending their spots to ensure they are taking full advantage of such a large moment.

“Building both top-down and bottom-up experiences across all brand touch points will provide additional avenues to connect with viewers and fans,” he said.

How do you see Super Bowl pre-release strategies evolving further?

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