Let's SeeWhatHappens.com

It takes a lot for a television commercial to impress me. Maybe I’ve become jaded by all the technical wizardry that has been put to good use by the marketers working for advertisers such as Budweiser and Pepsi. In addition, the hype that precedes the debut of many big-budget ad efforts can often dilute the impact of the TV commercial itself.
Recently, however, I had a see-a-commercial-and-run-to-the-computer experience. Mitsubishi was pitching its 2004 Galant. The commercials airing now are the second in the “See What Happens” series; a campaign that first appeared during the Super Bowl this past February.
Let’s agree that part of the battle faced by advertisers is getting the consumer’s undivided attention. Mitsubishi nabbed mine musically by targeting me with a nostalgic riff from Devo—a song called “Uncontrollable Urge,” circa 1978. That’s right—26 years ago counts as nostalgia when you’re 40 years old.
Fast cars capture my eye too (who knows, maybe they’ll crash and blow up). Mitsubishi’s :30 TV ad delivered both a cool soundtrack and speeding cars heading toward a chasm in a classic cliffhanger setting—and left me wanting more. The only way to get more was to go online, to www.seewhathappens.com
, where I could view the :30 teaser commercial and its online-only :20 conclusion in a single streaming web video.
Before you start questioning how many geeks like me would actually do this, let’s review the results from Mitsubishi’s Super Bowl spot. According to a case study written by Joseph Jaffe at imediaconnection.com (www.imediaconnection.com/content/2821.asp), SeeWhatHappens.com recorded 11 million hits in the six hours following the ad’s debut. People logged on to see a Mitsubishi Galant triumph over a Toyota Camry in a crash-avoidance test. In addition, the site received more visitors in its first 24 hours than Mitsubishi Cars.com historically does in an entire month.
Furthermore, two thirds of these people watched the full :50 web spot two or more times online. Once there, they continued to interact with the manufacturer’s website by downloading brochures, locating a local dealer, and more.
Since the airing of the commercial, Mitsubishi has added a cool incentive. If you’d like a free Mitsubishi Mix Music CD, a printable certificate is available that can be redeemed for the CD...once it’s been validated by a local dealer, after taking a test drive.
I’m not in the market for a new car yet. But someday, my bucket o’ bolts will let me know that it’s time for me to take the new-vehicle plunge. Does Mitsubishi have a lock on that purchase? No. But now they’re on my mental list, whereas before SeeWhatHappens.com, they had nothing.
Mitsubishi and their advertising agency, Deutsch Inc., skillfully created a convergence between television and the Internet. But you don’t need to be a national advertiser or a big ad agency to successfully utilize the same principles described in this column. For example, local TV advertisers can deliver their own payoff online through the use of streaming video. Since nearly one out of four homes nationwide now has broadband connectivity, many consumers can be targeted with this next generation of advertising.
These efforts don’t have to be selling messages—they can be telling, and educational. For example, I recently watched an online video that gave me a refresher course on how to start and operate my Stihl chainsaw (www.stihl usa.com/knowhow/knowhow_lit_ video.html). Their streaming effort helped maintain my brand loyalty while exposing me to new products when I was at their site.
Television stations have a unique opportunity to use video in a new way: online. While traditional TV commercials will continue to be the primary conduit between advertisers and consumers, a new world awaits when we help our clients take that connection to the next level.