Boston officials report that the the cost of yesterday's guerilla marketing scare exceeded $500,000, but there may be a far bigger cost to marketers if you take a close and critical look at online buzz patterns. The mega-marketing event known as the Super Bowl (with Super Bowl ads priced at $2.6 million per thirty second spot) is but three days away, but it appears as though the Boston incident has abruptly changed the subject. Just think about it... the Super Bowl is the one rare period of the year where consumers put their distrust of advertisers in a "blind trust" and pay tribute to this great festival of creativity. Now, a significant chunk of the "feel good" pre-buzz before the game is or risks being siphoned by the conversation (and extreme anger) over the uglier side of marketing. More specifically, throughout the day this was the #1 issue being discussed and shared across the blogosphere and via other CGM venues. It doesn't appear to be slowing down, especially as "new news" continues to come down the pipe. Here are some of the very real costs of this event taking place days before the Super Bowl:
- PR firms seeking "free media" placement on the local and national news about this placement now have major competition as everyone fixates on the Boston story. Every year, about this time, the media is saturated with "feature" stories about the upcoming ads. Remember, there's only so much coverage that can go to "marketing" issues.
- News stories about the ads may be obliged to overlay the guerilla marketing stunt because they both speak to the extreme sides of marketing
- Google search results around marketing or advertising themes may be loaded with content related to this event, potentially distracting consumers looking to "engage" the Super Bowl ads.
- Boston Super Bowl viewers, especially those ensnarled in traffic during the incident, may have a hard time even thinking about advertising with an open-mind
Three years ago, the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake "Nipplegate" issue wiped out the Super Bowl ad buzz from half-time on, and the following year the network's decision to cut the second GoDaddy ad shifting much of the post-game buzz to the topic of censorship at the expense of general "what did you think about the ads" buzz. Advertisers lost out on maximizing their return on an event that most CMOs insist is more than just an "ad buy."
Of course, maybe everyone will forget about the uglier side of marketing by Sunday.