Doritos Pizza SupremeAs we were scanning through all of the post-Super Bowl articles last week, we came upon this one from AdWeek. The title of the article was, “Frito-Lay Likes the Data from ‘Doritos Crash the Super Bowl.‘” We have never really understood the point of the big bucks spent on Super Bowl advertising because it seems most of the time the ads are put together strictly for entertainment value (or to be provacative in the case of GoDaddy). There’s never been much proof that these ads actually drive sales. In fact, sometimes the ads are so abstract you can’t even remember who the advertiser was. The idea that Frito-Lay had “data” seemed pretty interesting.

You may have been aware of Frito-Lay’s “crash the super bowl” contest. They’ve done it for a few years now. The general idea is that fans submit videos and the wider Frito-Lay community votes on what videos will appear during the actual game. It’s been a popular and much publicized effort so we were interested to see how it had actually performed. Instead of finding out that Frito-Lay had gotten a lot of sales data from their Super Bowl effort, however, the article actually encapsulates a lot of what is wrong with marketing today. Let’s dig in and talk about this.

Views and Fans

Remember how we talked about impressions on Monday? Well, here they are in all of their glory. The subhead of the article is, “Facebook-anchored effort hits 100 million views.” The article begins by explaining that Frito-Lay decided to move their video voting process to Facebook instead of to a separate microsite, and as a result videos were viewed millions of times. The article also mentions that for the first time, the Facebook “fan” page for Doritos reached over the 4 million mark. These achievements apparently exceeded Frito-Lay’s expectations. Ram Krishman, VP of Marketing, and Dena vonWerssowetz, Marketing Manager, are both quoted in the article and are pleased as punch with their results.

Indeed, this might seem like great news, but if you scan through the article, there is no indication of how all of this affected sales of Doritos. Did all of the people who made videos buy lots of bags so that sales spiked? Did subliminal messaging from watching all of those ads create a spike in sales? No mention of sales appears whatsoever.

The problem with not considering sales

So, we have a campaign that resulted in 4 million Facebook fans, an increase in Facebook app usage, and 100 million video views. We aren’t sure how sales were impacted. Now, what about that sticky issue of investment?

First, we have the fact that Dena vonWerssowetz is quoted as saying that she watched all 3,500 video submissions. I have no idea what her salary is, but let’s assume that watching 3,500 videos took a fair amount of time, and hence a fair amount of money was paid for vonWerssowetz’s time in watching them.

Then, we have the expense of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Ketchum and Grow working on creative for the campaigns. Again, we have no idea what that cost was, but it probably was not peanuts.

On top of those expenses, we have the following note: “Her brand ran the full gamut of Facebook ads—Reach Block, Marketplace, Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts.” Assuming that Frito-Lay wanted to reach as many people as possible with these Facebook ads, their investment was probably substantial.

Last but not least, we can’t forget the whole incentive for people to submit their videos. First prize was a million dollars. The second prize winner got $600,000 and the third prize winner got $400,00.

That is a LOT of money on the investment side, and we have no idea whether that money resulted in positive ROI. Is it possible? Sure. But is that what got highlighted? Not a bit.

What this means for you

Most companies in the world do not have the kind of budget that Frito-Lay (part of PepsiCo) has. Potentially, companies the size of Frito-Lay have the freedom to not give much care to ROI, although this haphazard approach to marketing versus sales could catch up with them eventually. But you need to watch things with much greater caution. So what can you learn from this alleged success? As we said on Monday, make sure you are looking at the metrics that really matter. In the end, businesses are fueled by an excess of money coming in versus money going out. It’s just that simple. If you spend millions of dollars, or thousands of dollars, on a marketing campaign and you are left with no idea how that campaign performed for you, you might as well just throw money out your windows.

Mind the metrics that matter. No matter how big or how small you are.

Image Credit: via Creative Commons