Passion, Loyalty and Ritual from a Commercial?

Bart_Given_Web101 Bart Given, Managing Director & Chief Innovator

On Monday, our stellar team at TORQUE shared their favourite ads from Super Bowl Sunday – you can review our choices here.

As I was sharing my pick for best of the night, it struck me how much a phenomenon Super Bowl commercials have become in North America. The founding father may have been Coke’s brilliant spot with Mean Joe Greene – it really was ahead of its time: iconic brand + larger-than-life athlete + cute kid + sharing = Hall of Fame, but as the appetite for these ads has grown, more brands have stepped up their game.  The actual spots are no longer limited to :30s or :60s during the in-game broadcast but now often include teaser spots, outtakes, extended cuts – many of which can be seen days in advance of the Super Bowl. Often at TORQUE, we aid our clients in understanding the power of passion, loyalty and ritual when engaging with consumers – and watching Super Bowl ads evoke those exact emotions in consumers.

Another less positive but a seemingly just as passionate ritual is Canadians complaining about our inability to watch the ads during the live broadcast. The Canadian rights holder, in this case CTV, uses a practice called “simsub” wherein they overlay their own adsor promos on top of the ads purchased on the US host broadcast. Simply put, regardless of whether Canadians are watching CTV or NBC – we see CTV commercials and promos. Simsub is not a practice exclusively used during the Super Bowl, it happens regularly during award shows and other hit television programs.

I’m guilty of it. I’ve long complained about this practice. I’m keen to see the commercials, but my largest irritations have come from seeing the same television promo ad nauseam and then too frequently missing a play in the game because of ill-timed simsub.

So in theory, I should be elated to learn the CRTC has since informed broadcasters and Canadians at large that the practice of Simsub will end in time for Super Bowl LI (2017). However, I’m of mixed emotions.

On one hand, I pay for my multiple channel options on OPTIK TV, if I want to watch NBC – I should be able to do so without having CTV place their ads and promote their shows.

On the other hand, I’m a proud Canadian and I want our industry (sponsorship marketing or otherwise) to be strong and continue to flourish.  The most logical reaction will involve CTV losing revenue from Canadian advertisers, as well as significant promotion of their own programming and therefore less willing to pay the NFL’s exorbitant broadcast fees. This may be a sky is falling moment, but does reduced promotion and reduced revenue lead to reduced investment in Canadian content? I’m not sure. Remember this won’t only have an effect on the Super Bowl, it will impact the Oscars, Grammys and Modern Family.

My hope is that CTV and Canadian advertisers view this an opportunity. Create ads relevant to Canadians, build hype around the Canadian broadcast and fight for the Canadian audience. Give me a reason to choose the Canadian broadcast over the US version. Here is my final tidbit of unsolicited advice – make it relevant through passion, loyalty and ritual.  I’m ready to step up and host a Super Bowl party featuring only Canadian content if they are.