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Integration and engagement: insights from Super Bowl XLVI

The first half of 2012 is behind us and during the past months, we witnessed — thanks especially to the Super Bowl — marketing that upped the integration and engagement ante. Marketers ignited consumers to talk, share and become part of a pop-cultural moment — more than merely a championship football game — that crossed generations.

Beyond just a showcase of great creative commercials, the Super Bowl has grown into a live stage that communicates with more than 110 million people who are most likely watching the game while they’re texting or tweeting on their smartphone or exploring the Web on their tablet or laptop. Because of multi-screen viewing, impression numbers exponentially grow to the billions among this attentive, live audience — a marketer’s dream for executing seamless integration.

Integration is engagement tool and occurs when strategy and messaging are aligned across every communication platform. As the Super Bowl revealed, successful integration depends on emotionally connecting with consumers and fostering an honest and approachable bond between customer and brand.

Take for example Chrysler‘s “Halftime in America” commercial. The two-minute Super Bowl ad wasn’t released pregame. It starred Clint Eastwood who emotionally struck a chord with consumers by delivering an equal dose of optimism and nationalism. This commercial successfully generated more press coverage than any other in-game commercial.

On the other hand, several successful Super Bowl marketers began the conversation about their Super Bowl work days if not weeks before the game with an arsenal of pregame content that prolonged interest before, during and after the game.

Having the good fortune to work with Honda on Super Bowl this year, I put together a roundup of key takeaways that any marketer can adapt to their brand communications:

  • Think 360 degrees. Every marketing discipline must be in sync with your brand platform idea. This means that print, TV, online, mobile and social should have one voice and dotted lines to connect one to another. Consider the value of hashtags. Budweiser included #makeitplatinum in its Super Bowl commercials which became a trending topic soon after the TV spot aired during the game.

  • It takes a village. Once your brand platform idea is established, gather every voice that can propel your message. Consider those who handle collateral or search marketing, digital media, PR or those responsible for user experience. One team, one voice.
  • One budget bucket. Integrated communication doesn’t thrive if there’s infighting, especially when it comes to budgets. One budget allows your one team to work in lockstep.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Risky moves can pay dividends. Agencies must foster client relationships based on trust that allows for bold ideas to be tested. This year, our team released a 10-second anonymous YouTube teaser for Honda’s CR-V Super Bowl spot more than a week before the big game. We used this teaser as a platform to build excitement for the extended-version of “Matthew’s Day Off” that launched several days before the big game. The teaser attracted mass media attention, garnering coverage on every major network.
  • Spark continued dialogue. A strong brand platform idea will allow marketers to communicate with consumers wherever they are naturally inclined to go for information. Plan for additional content for unique 140-character quips on Twitter, for sharing on Facebook or to visually connect with consumers by pinning content that speaks to their passions on Pinterest. See how Whole Foods is featuring boards on gardening, recycling and “good karma products” thereby tapping into the lifestyle of their customers.

The biggest media event of year is just one example of how it’s not only about great creative, but also about using that creative as a platform for driving intrigue and conversation. Ultimately the goal is for this relationship with the consumer to grow and yield loyalty and preference for your brand.

Joe Baratelli is EVP and executive creative director at full-service advertising agency RPA.

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