Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Why David Beckham's Underwear Commercial Won the Super Bowl

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Thirty years ago, Apple released its iconic 1984 Super Bowl commercial. It aired only once during the Super Bowl, yet it's considered one of the most memorable and successful commercials to date. And while Super Bowl commercials, which are often the highlight of the game to non-football-watching fans, have certainly changed a great deal over the past 30 years -- higher-definition footage, greater costs, more puppies, less clothing -- there's still a lot of things that haven't changed.

Whether aware of it at the time, Apple's 1984 spot planted the "Think Different" seed into the minds of all who watched it. Although that slogan wouldn't actually appear for another 13 years, Apple's goal was to spark revolutions in tech. Though Apple, among other tech giants, have accomplished this over the last three decades with amazing strides in personal electronics, it seems like the TV ads for these products have remained fairly unchanged in terms of technological innovations.

Isn't it about time that advertisers think differently about the way they create Super Bowl commercials? We certainly think so, and we believe at the exponential rate tech is growing, Super Bowl commercials will look a lot different in 10 years -- nay, even next year's game will see changes to advertising -- specifically in the way of interactivity.

Don't believe us? Though Super Bowl XLVIII didn't do much in the way of innovative advertising, there was one ad that stood out among the rest (and no, it wasn't John Stamos' suggestive Oiko's commercial, though that did make us think about Greek yogurt in a different way). To promote its bodywear line, clothing brand H&M released an interactive commercial that gave viewers the option to buy clothing directly from their connected TV. If you happen to own a Samsung Smart TV and were watching the game, you likely saw this in action; if you don't own a Samsung Smart TV, you just saw David Beckham running around in a pair of briefs, which is great in itself, but doesn't do anything in terms of moving the dial on interactivity.

The numbers are still out on whether the interactive campaign was a success, but being the only brand with an interactive ad sets the company apart as future-thinking, innovative, and hip. Sure, the interactivity of the ad was limited to only those with Samsung Smart TVs, but the commercial likely lit a spark in the minds of nacho- and wing-stuffed advertisers watching the game. Hey, maybe we should do something like that for our next campaign, and, oh, can you pass the guacamole?

And H&M's interactive ad is only the beginning. We predict the commercials running during future Super Bowls will be a lot more interactive. Many advertisers are already including calls-to-action in their ads to encourage viewers to tweet, Instagram or comment on Facebook, adding an interactive element to an otherwise static ad. For example, Oreo's 30-second "Cream or Cookie" commercial, which included a call-to-action that asked viewers to "choose their side" on Instagram, was huge during 2013's Super Bowl. According to Mashable, Oreo gained tens of thousands of followers after that, having started out with just 2,200 followers before the commercial aired. And it's going to take these sorts of tactics, at the minimum, to engage viewers.

Though the commercials in Super Bowl XLVIII missed the mark in terms of interactivity, some were right on in terms of social engagement. According to Mediabistro, the first hashtag used in a Super Bowl commercial was in 2011 when Audi used the hashtag #ProgressIs (and was the only company to use a hashtag that year). Three years, later, 49 commercials featured hashtags in Super Bowl XLVIII commercials, which, according to Mashable, is about 58 percent of the ads -- up from 50 percent last year. Mashable writes that 24.9 million tweets were sent during the game.

The key takeaway here is that nearly 25 million tweets were sent within a few hours centered around one event, meaning there was a glut of people interacting with a second screen. If the only thing advertisers are doing is creating calls to action for viewers to tweet, why not take it a step further and include an interactive element that brings the user to the company's landing page, generating traffic to their site and, in turn, actually making sales in real time? Shoppable commercials like Beckham's scantily-clad H&M ad lets the viewer interact directly with their TV, but brands are missing the opportunity to create an interactive experience that viewers can engage with on their phones, tablets, and laptops.

According to Mediapost's TV Watch blog, "70 percent of viewers will remember brands associated with commercials, but only 40 percent will yield business-related engagement." Even worse, 30 percent of advertising will get lost in the buzz.

Sure we love puppies, celebrities (be they dressed in their skivvies or transformed into a pistachio), and cute kids, and those things will likely never leave the bag of go-to Super Bowl commercial tricks, but going forward, advertisers need to step things up a notch and create commercials that further engage its viewers. After all, if a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl costs $4 million, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, has risen 70 percent in the last decade, companies better be getting their money's worth, and as we've seen, interactivity is the way to do it.