Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Eric Porres, CMO of SundaySky.
First off, congratulations to Tostitos for raising the prominence of personalization ahead of the Super Bowl.
I'm talking about that link Tostitos recently dropped on the internet, in which consumers fill in information about their upcoming Super Bowl gathering (specifically, the host's name, address and time of the party). Click the button, wait 60 seconds and voila, a personalized video invitation appears, ready to be shared on desktops and devices for one and all. The party details display via on-screen text and speech recognition technology, packaged with all the sights and sounds of a typical Super Bowl ad — adorable pets, talking babies, robots, elderly women and an offbeat or nostalgic celebrity appearance (Alfonso Ribeiro, former actor from TV sitcoms "Silver Spoons" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air").
With prices soaring to more than $5 million for a single 30-second Super Bowl ad, brands seek unique ways to stand out during the advertising bonanza. Tostitos, a Frito-Lay brand, gets points for baking in sales performance metrics, offering invitation creators a buy-one-get-one-free Tostitos dip coupon for their participation (although at the time of this writing, the coupon link expired, once again raising questions about the relative long-term merits of a short-term discount strategy to woo new customers). Personalized video should be held accountable to perform and drive business value back to the business, rather than solely being used for entertainment purposes.
Overall, if we were scoring at home, we'd rate the campaign a safety. Here are three ways Tostitos could have taken it to the next level and scored a touchdown — and maybe even a two-point conversion — with this execution:
1. Personalize all the way through, not just on the surface
Asking for the host's name, address and party time is a good start, but it would have been more surprising and interesting to ask questions of subtlety and nuance in a way the viewer wouldn't necessarily anticipate at the end of the video. If Tostitos requested specifics on the kind of Super Bowl party (hardcore fans, casual viewers or those just there for the food) or who's invited (just the guys, family affair or everyone's welcome), the answers could better drive the assets appearing in each particular video. Some people would see the elderly women, while others would get the talking dog and robot. By adding a deeper layer of personalization, the videos would become even more individualized, as opposed to the "remix" button that appears at the end of the video, which mixes other scenes together with no other element of personalization.
2. Data can be beautiful if you let it
The data elements of name, address and party time get re-rendered simply in a plugged-in, fill-in-the-blank manner. These variables would benefit from a stronger presentation, blended more organically into the creative. Why not have the host's name on a jersey, or show the time of the party on a wall clock? In the current iteration of the video, simple overlays present the data elements (i.e. showing the address in a text message invite), which doesn't make for the most visually dynamic or engaging experience.
3. Geography doesn't matter, but it should
Given that the party invite requests a location, a simple geographic lookup table working on the backend could have married consumer input with scene-specific geographic elements related to the state and perhaps down to the city. Simply regurgitating "New York, NY" with on-screen text is a mirror, not personalization.
To be fair, presenting simple personalization is better than no personalization at all in contrast to the boring monotony of fleetingly funny broadcast ads, and I applaud the Frito-Lay team for their efforts. As larger CPG brands take broader steps to get a deeper understanding of their customer data, I hope that personalization becomes more than just a simple playbook tactic and fundamentally creates moments of relevance, education, entertainment and delight.