Television, football, advertising, and strategy

After probably the most anathemic event to hit any Houston area fan of amusement parks, the shuttering of Six Flags Astroworld in 2005, I would never have expected the scene to feel so empty. Four years and change later, and still nothing permanent has been built on the former site. It’s a huge change for Houston to be without what was once an iconic amusement park; it’s definitely not quite the same city now.

But that’s not what this is about. One typically does not appreciate the full impact of a change until well after it has happened. Such is the case with Pepsi’s decision not to advertise during Super Bowl XLIV, choosing instead to concentrate on social media. Remember, this was the same Pepsi to be flamed to a crisp for changing its logo. Heck, even I reacted on Twitter to what I felt was an absolutely horrible branding move, and I still don’t look at a can of Pepsi the same way.

The full impact of that change was Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper commercials picking up the slack. I didn’t realize how different it was until I saw them myself. (Aside: I really didn’t plan to watch the Super Bowl at all this year; it was my mom’s idea for us to go watch the game at a local bowling alley, 300 Houston, which has television screens above the lanes as well as in the bar area. We had a great time.)

Anyway, it wasn’t until well into the fourth quarter that it really hit me just how big of a change this was. I didn’t realize just how big of a player Pepsi was in Super Bowl TV advertising. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, used social media to complement the rest of their Super Bowl ad campaign.

It remains to be seen exactly how each move will pay off for the respective beverage giants. However, the more I think about it, the more I think Pepsi’s marketing team will be kicking themselves for skipping the Super Bowl this year. I’d expect Pepsi’s departure from Super Bowl TV advertising to be a one-year thing, and some heads to roll once the shareholders realize what has transpired.