Online videos are the new Super Bowl ads... kind of. Old Spice Man actually started as a cheeky non-Super-Bowl commercial online, timed to generate buzz around the game. Last year, Volkswagen put "The Force" online ahead of the actual game, and it helped generate more publicity for the ad--which went on to be voted one of the best of the game, despite having actually aired online first. And now after leaking last week on Jalopnik, Honda has gone ahead and released their once-secret Ferris Bueller Super Bowl commercial in its entirety online.
Ferris Bueller Super Bowl Commercial Now Online
The whole thing began with a tease from Honda themselves:
Then, on Friday, Jalopnik ruined the surprise by revealing the teaser was for a Honda ad--disappointing many fans who wrongly assumed there was now a sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the way (there is not).
So then Honda took the weekend to consider their options and finally realized they only had one choice: release the ad early. And so according to All Things D, they did just that this morning. You can see it for yourself right here:
[Video removed from YouTube]
Judging by the early comments, the audience is mixed. Actually, there are a fairly high number of negative comments. However, the Likes far outnumber the Dislikes, which usually indicates the overall majority enjoyed the video. It's stuck on 300 views or so, doing that lock-up thing the YouTube counter does when a video first takes off. I'm sure it'll "go viral" by most everyone's standards.
Personally? I'm not terribly impressed. I enjoyed some of the homage moments nodding to the original film, but many of them were a little flat for me. I've definitely seen better ads, and better online video ads from Honda. That being said, I think the masses will enjoy it. It's a nice, playful walk down Nostalgia Lane, and that will appeal to a lot of viewers, even if the overall concept is a little... uninspired.
But I bet you I can still find some lessons here for other marketers...
What Can You Learn From Honda's Ferris Bueller Ad
First... don't let the details of your big event ad leak. Keep your inner circle tighter than Honda did in this case. I have no idea how long the game-version of the ad is, but the web version is over 2 minutes, which would be a staggering cost to have paid for Super Bowl airtime only to have the ad's surprise impact spoiled by a car blog.
Second... be careful what you tease and how you tease. I don't think there's any way for Honda to have known what kind of fever pitch their teaser would ignite. Sure, they wanted to pique interest, but I doubt they knew people would be clamoring so passionately for details that a leak would be sprung. Ultimately, their own teaser did them in. Of course, you could argue they had to tease it to truly generate buzz--which leads me to my next point...
Third... the web is now a viable place to tease all kinds of video content, even traditional TV ads--ads teasing ads. Honda wouldn't be doing this just out of pure defeat. I think it's entirely possible that it was in their plans all along to release the ad online early. After all, it was uploaded on the 26th, and only made public today. Maybe the leak just pushed up the deadline? Either way, they and every other major advertiser saw what Volkswagen did last year by putting their ad online ahead of the game, and it definitely didn't hurt that ad's performance or reputation in the least.
I seriously doubt the ultimate impression of the ad or its effectiveness will be damaged by having the ad leak early.
I'm not suggesting that our regular readers are all working on Super Bowl campaigns, though I'm sure some might be. But even smaller businesses and video marketers can look for and spot trends in online video as a whole--and responding to those trends is the way to stay ahead of the game. We've got online videos teasing movies, tv shows, tv ads, and even other online videos. It's the beginning of the online video revolution, and you're in on the ground floor. Don't be Ferris Bueller and take a day off... learn from what's going on around you and stay ahead of the pack.