What Scarlett Johansson can tell us about the decline of TV

sodastream super bowl scarlett johanssonIf only every day was Super Bowl day. It’s a common wish for TV advertisers. The reason? On Super Bowl day they can rest assured that there’s often as much interest in the ad-breaks as there is in the game itself – especially if, as my colleagues in the US tell me, the game is as one-sided as it was this year.

Super Bowl advertising was firmly in the spotlight during the last few weeks. Scarlett Johansson’s advert for SodaStream became particularly infamous after being banned by US broadcaster, Fox, in the weeks leading up to the game. The controversy meant the unedited version of the ad went viral, with over 1.8 million views in 24 hours, and it’s now at 11 million and counting.

The advert claims Johansson is saving the world by making homemade soda ‘that’s better for you and all of us, less sugar, less bottles’. The actress then casually says: “If only I could make this message go viral…Sorry Coke and Pepsi”, making sure the video does just that.

Understandably Fox didn’t want to upset its two biggest Super Bowl advertisers and banned the unedited footage. Just as predictably social media made light work of guaranteeing the ad went viral.

There’s nothing like a spot of controversy to get clicks and shares sky-rocketing, and in the case of SodaStream, it was stirred up on two fronts. Scarlett Johansson’s promotion of the Israeli soda maker also saw her obliged to resign as Oxfam ambassador, after the charity expressed concern over her relationship with the company which operates from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

As companies are reportedly now spending as much as $4 million for a 30-second spot improving the longevity of Super Bowl ads is vital. Half of the world’s population is expected to be online by 2017 and 73% of the world’s young population are already regularly viewing online video, so as SodaStream demonstrated, engaging viewers online is a great way of making the most out of TV advertising. If a TV ad is talked about online, for whatever reason, then engagement, advocacy and amplification will quickly follow.

For other Super Bowl advertisers this year, recognising the sharp growth in dual screen viewing habits saw less controversial approaches to promoting interaction online. H&M’s ad allowed viewers with a Samsung Smart TV to order David Beckham’s Bodywear products with their remote control during the game, while Bank of America enabled a free download on iTunes of U2’s new single ‘Invisible’, donating $1 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS each time the track was downloaded.

As these commercials demonstrate, interaction online is a fundamental element of a successful advertising campaign. For TV ads to prosper in a world where more and more eyeballs are moving online, advertisers must start treating every day a little more like Super Bowl Sunday. To get real value from television campaigns, advertisers should move their ad dollars towards digital and complement their TV ads with interactive, engaging online video campaigns.