When the mystery teaser for a Matthew Broderick/Ferris Bueller Super Bowl commercial dropped last week, the Internet’s collective head almost exploded. Could it be? Finally, a sequel to Ferris Bueller, one of the most beloved movies of the ’80s? And we’d see the trailer at the Super Bowl? Not even a Clockwork Orange-style forced viewing of the abysmal Ferris Bueller TV show could dampen the excitement.
Then, the full ad was posted online before the Super Bowl. And the air was let out of the Internet’s balloon.
It was revealed to be an advertisement not for a Ferris Bueller sequel, but for the Honda CR-V. In the new advertising environment created by social media, Super Bowl ads are now being teased with previews, then released online before the game (see Volkswagen’s Star Wars themed commercials from this year and last, as well), making the actual airing during the Super Bowl a kind of non-event. The point is to drum up more interest, more hype, and make it last. But what about if it backfires?
I argue that it did backfire with the Ferris Bueller ad, because people were genuinely let down when they learned there was no sequel coming. This isn’t to say that the ad is not successful or people don’t like it – there are just as many positive comments as negative ones (thousands) on YouTube, and it is really well done (special props for the “I Am the Walrus” callback). But instead of being surprised or delighted by seeing this for the first time during the Super Bowl – as would have happened in years past – the general consensus after the online reveal was basically, “Oh…it’s a car commercial?” And then no one really cared about its airing during the actual game at all.
If there’s a lesson, it’s that presenting things in the right context and at the right time is more important than ever thanks to social media. Since the teaser did not even show a car, it could only disappoint people to find that there was no new Ferris Bueller movie coming. And would the ad’s shelf life have been longer if they didn’t tease it and didn’t release the entire thing online before the Super Bowl? For brands, knowing when to push things via social is essential to sticking the landing in modern advertising.