Published date: Thursday, 21 January 2016

Superbowl Adverts: A Touchdown for Mobile?

Looking through some of the 2015 Superbowl adverts, a clear pattern emerges – mobile is a hot topic. From Kim Kardashian appealing for us not to waste our data right through to God running out of battery, creative agencies are finding ways to integrate mobiles into adverts in new and often hilarious ways. Remember Liam Neeson playing Clash of Clans while waiting to pick up his scone?

The first SuperBowl advert featuring a mobile phone dates back to 2000 – an ‘exciting’ 30 seconds featuring a woman in an airport, trading stocks on a moving walkway. Though probably unintentional, Microsoft’s use of mobile foreshadowed a slow trend towards using mobile phones in adverts and promos.

It’s an unsurprising trend – 81% of smartphone users in the US say they keep their phone near them “almost all the time during waking hours.” Marketeers always smell an opportunity to use relatable ideas and products, and mobile is near the top of the list.

Take, for example, 2015’s ‘One Upped’ Campaign from T-Mobile. Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler have a fantastic time trying to show who has the best tech – competing with one another (as we are all prone to do from time to time!) as they brag about their phones’ capabilities. The comedy here lies to a certain extent in how relatable the premise is – we all feel a certain swell of pride when our phones have signal but others don’t.

If there was one ad to rule them all in Superbowl 2015, however, it was Kate Upton’s appearance in Game of War’s unforgettable fantasy battle advert. After a captivating 30 seconds of suggestive battle gear and bath-dipping, users were prompted to download the Game of War app for free. And it worked – Game of War soared up 95 places on the App Store chart in the 24 hours after the ad first aired.  Mobile games splashed the cash in UA projects last year, and in 2016 this may be repeated. What’s interesting about these ads is that none of the games in the ads were new releases – they’d all been around for months before the Superbowl itself. That said, February is suitably distant from Christmas that the novelty of holiday purchases may have worn off and gamers may be ready to try new apps – apps suggested to them during Superbowl breaks. It’s an entirely new system of thought, but an exciting one for advertisers.

The Superbowl has become a prestige ad slot, and mobile being at the heart of this advertising goliath is a sign of things to come – while traditional brands (the likes of Doritos, Budweiser and the vast hordes of car models) enjoy the creative opportunities available to them; the new appearance of mobile brands shows that advertisers are thinking beyond the screen and at the devices in the hands of users. It’ll be exciting to see what comes in 2016!