TV Ads: Social Cameo vs. Social Integration

By Timmy Bosch

I have noticed an increase of social media appearances in TV ads. I have mixed feelings about what I have seen. On the one hand, the arrival of social media shows that advertisers are beginning to understand that social media is a key element of a successful marketing campaign. On the other hand, most of the commercials I have seen merely flash a miniature Facebook or Twitter logo at the very end. It is almost as if they had 2 seconds remaining at the end of the spot and thought, “hey let’s throw in a Facebook plug.”

Where is the call to action? Where is the incentive to “like” or follow?

I have noticed two different types of social media involvement in TV advertising: the social cameo and social integration.

The social cameo is simply a snapshot of a desired social media destination during the course of the commercial. The social cameo is the most prevalent type of social media appearance in TV advertising. While I have my doubts about this method’s effectiveness, I believe it is a step in the right direction for marketers. However, when all you see is the Facebook logo for 2 seconds at the bottom of the screen, what is the real impact? I have 20/20 vision and am looking for these cameos and still barley notice many of them. Capturing attention is becoming increasingly difficult. The tiny Facebook symbol is not going to cut it.

In addition, as my esteemed colleague Frank Ramblings brought up in his last blog, don’t just display the Facebook logo and expect to be found. You wouldn't give someone directions to your house by telling them what city you live in; you would give them your exact address, or in this case, a URL. The action you want the viewer to take should be as clear as possible.

Not all social cameos are ineffective.

My favorite social cameo is the use of a hash tag to promote an event. What better way to vent your excitement about an upcoming event than joining in on the conversation with fellow fans on Twitter? For example, next week is Shark Week on the Discovery channel, and #sharkweek is blowing up on Twitter. I find solace in knowing that I am not alone in looking forward to Shark Week. I saw the hash tag on a Shark Week commercial, and seconds later, I Twitter Searched #sharkweek. Seeing the enthusiastic masses tweet about Shark Week only amplified my excitement. Minutes later, I was following @sharkweek on Twitter.

On the other side of the spectrum is social integration in TV ads.  In social integration, social media is directly connected to the message conveyed in the advertisement. There have been few cases of social integration that are as cool as Pepsi’s “Unlock Summer Fun” campaign. Pay close attention to the bottom of the screen at the end of the commercial:


Pepsi is the first major brand to integrate foursquare and national TV.

Since more of us are buying smart phones, and foursquare is gaining in popularity, this might not be the last time we see foursquare promotion in mainstream media. The call to action is clear: Follow Pepsi on foursquare and unlock summer fun.

Results so far show that Pepsi has been the top trending brand on foursquare since July 3, and there are now more than 1.5 million views of the "Uncle Teddy" video on YouTube. Not bad.

The days of simply broadcasting a message to millions of people and expecting results are nearly over. The smart brands are already evolving and embracing social media in their ad campaigns.

Has anyone noticed that more TV ads are adding social media elements? Do tell…