Carjacking the Conversation

CarsComTheBIgMatchSuperBowlLIII

The Superbowl is the unquestioned penultimate of television commercials in the United States. Major companies save their wittiest and most effective ads to premier on this night, as the television audience nationally is far and away the highest of any single viewing event of the year. But with all these eyes on the television screen, a major player in the advertising field has strategically decided to avoid the television commercial arena altogether, where 30-second commercials this year are costing upwards of $5 million each. Cars.com, typically heavily involved in on-screen Superbowl advertisements, is instead putting all of their advertising efforts into social media.

Cars.com’s digital approach this year will utilize paid, organic, and SEM efforts across all social media platforms in an effort to control the online conversation before, during, and after the game. Their “control room”, with over 40 digital strategists, will watch the live Superbowl feed, including both the game and its commercials, and respond in real time with witty, relevant, and conversation-provoking Cars.com content. The account to follow and keep an eye on during the Superbowl is @carsdotcom.

This will reportedly include posting every time a vehicle is featured on-screen with the social media user’s closest online Cars.com listing for that vehicle, a campaign they’re calling “The Big Match”. Their hope is to allow other companies’ commercials to drum up interest in the cars and then follow-up immediately with viewers to provide hyper-local, transaction-ready car listings. “‘The Big Match’ campaign is intended to break through traditional thinking around Big Game advertising and offer a digital-first approach that drives more efficient spending and more targeted results,” says Seth Goldberg, Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Cars.com.

Knowing their strategy, I will monitor their social media activity targeted at me during the Superbowl and follow-up to this blog with examples of their campaign after the Superbowl has concluded. I will also include whether or not I believe they effectively hit their mark on this unique approach to Superbowl advertising.

After the Superbowl

Believe it or not, Superbowl 53 has now been played and, despite one of the more boring championship games I can ever remember, hundreds of millions of viewers were glued to the television screen. However, as explained earlier, Cars.com’s entire Superbowl advertising strategy took place via social media on our phone. Here’s a sampling of what their campaign, “The Big Match”, looked like on Twitter and Facebook:

Cars.com2

I will give them credit for originality, creativity, and a unique use of marketing resources during the Superbowl. I followed their social media during the Superbowl and would check my feed during commercials, where I almost always had a clever post by Cars.com waiting for me. Any time a car was shown on the television screen, they immediately provided the make, model, year, and, most importantly, the link to purchase the car on Cars.com. Their strategy of letting other companies purchase the screen-time to advertise the car while they provide an easy way to window-shop the car was effective. However, in my opinion, the “match-making” theme they recycled in nearly every social media post throughout the evening was over-used and grew tired. Ultimately, their web traffic and car purchasing data would tell the complete story, but at face value, I appreciated their approach and would anticipate other companies look to replicate it next year.

Sources: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/331411/carscom-plans-super-bowl-social-campaign.html

https://www.adweek.com/digital/cars-com-bypasses-super-bowl-tv-ads-and-goes-digital-first-on-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/

www.cars.com

This entry was posted in Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, SuperBowl ads, Twitter, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Carjacking the Conversation

  1. sydhavely says:

    Totally on target blog. Looking forward to what you find.

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