- Finnegans, a brewer in Minneapolis that gives all profits to charity, will launch a mobile app to run a "TV takeover" commercial during the Super Bowl by leveraging augmented reality (AR), according to a press release by the company.
- The Finnegans Big Game TV Takeover app will show the commercial to viewers who download the app and point a phone or tablet at a TV screen. Developed by Martin Williams Advertising and Pixel Farm, the app recognizes the rectangular shape of a flat-screen TV and overlays the Finnegans commercial onto it.
- Starting on Feb. 4, users will also get a free "virtual beer" and can interact with the app around game day. The app is free to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Considering that 30-second Super Bowl spots can cost as high as $5 million, most smaller marketers shy away from TV advertising during the big game. Finnegans, which isn't an official sponsor of the Super Bowl, is demonstrating how a more niche, nonprofit organization with a limited budget can generate awareness and publicity by using mobile technology to piggyback on the hype going into the biggest TV and marketing event of the year.
The AR feature could certainly raise awareness for the brand, which is based in Minneapolis where the Super Bowl is being hosted this year, as attendees and viewers plan their tailgate and viewing party shopping lists. Finnegans is one of the many companies harnessing new mobile channels to command viewers' attention while they watch the game on TV.
Mercedes-Benz is running a "Last Fan Standing" Super Bowl contest that will give away a car to the user who can keep his or her finger on a mobile screen displaying a virtual car for the longest. Ally Bank is similarly letting football fans visualize their savings goals via an AR game that shows money raining down on their smartphone screens.
A major question around the Super Bowl this year will be whether the National Football League's steadily declining viewership will dent the audience numbers for the final game, and thus, return on ad spend. A 10% decline in viewership during the regular season negatively affected TV revenue. Spending on NFL content fell 1.2% to $2.42 billion, per Standard Media Index data cited by the Los Angeles Times. Viewership for last year's telecast on Fox fell less than 3% from the all-time high in 2015, when 114.4 million viewers tuned in on NBC. But as long as the Super Bowl can deliver a mass audience and lots of buzz for commercials that get covered in press reports and shared on social media, the big game will likely remain an attractive opportunity for brands.