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Adobe Readies Its Super Bowl 'Real-Time' War Room

B-to-B Giant Believes Big Game Is a Prime Time to Pitch Marketers

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Screenshot From Adobe's Super Bowl Video Ad

Oreo's social media success during last year's Super Bowl left an unquestionable imprint on the marketing industry. The company's well timed tweet -- telling followers it was okay to dunk its cookie "in the dark" while the game paused due to a blackout -- turned marketers across the country into "real-time marketing" believers.

During live events over the past year, it's been common for brands to set up "war rooms" filled with creatives and lawyers, ready to strike with a timely, company-approved message at a moment's notice. Expect plenty of such operations to be in action when this Sunday's game between the Seahawks and Broncos kicks off.

Surprisingly, one of these will belong to Adobe. As a marketer that largely targets other businesses, Adobe's likelihood of emulating Oreo's broad success is low. But the company believes the Super Bowl is an ideal time to launch a "real-time" campaign aimed at its prospects: other marketers.

"We see our campaign as part of the overall Super Bowl experience," said Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes in an email. "We think it's a message marketers are extremely receptive to."

Adobe's Super Bowl effort will have many components. There will be a war room of 15 people, filled with '"listeners,' social media analysts, social publishing, creative, IT, facilities and legal" team members, according to Alex Amado, Adobe's senior director creative strategy and service. The group will use Adobe's analytics tools to identify which brands' digital and social efforts are resonating and congratulate them using social media. Adobe will also post its own marketing messages and furiously promote a quirky video ad it produced for the game.

The spot, still unfinished but previewed by Ad Age, shows a family gathering for the Super Bowl but compulsively fidgeting with their mobile devices as it airs. "The campaign goal is to remind marketers that they need to pay attention to every screen -- not just the big screen -- when they game-plan for the Super Bowl," said Ms. Lewnes.

The video ad will run before, during and after the game, Ms. Lewnes said. Adobe plans to promote it on social media and through a media buy that includes CNBC, Bloomberg, AdWeek, Business Insider and Ad Age. The effort is meant to reach those looking at which ads "won" the night, and cast doubt that a brand could win by buying a Super Bowl television spot alone.

Adobe, of course, sells platforms that help marketers execute digital campaigns that run alongside TV.

Adobe's decision to air the this type of ad was encouraged by its own data that suggests this year's Super Bowl will be the most digital ever. An Adobe Digital Index survey predicted 52% of people watching the Super Bowl will do so with a mobile phone in hand. Web traffic for Super Bowl television advertisers can jump more than 60% vs. a normal day, Ms. Lewnes said.

The value of real-time marketing for any brand, of course, should be put into context. Last year's Super Bowl was watched by 108.7 million people, though only 5.3 million tweeted during the game. Kyle Acquistapace, director of media and data strategy for Deutsch LA, at the time compared the reach of a well timed tweet to that of a spot on a moderately rated television network.

Still, marketers will be hyper-focused on digital efforts during this year's Super Bowl after Oreo's success last year, so it may not be a bad time for Adobe to send out its b-to-b message.

"We want to encourage marketers to accelerate their digital marketing strategies," Ms. Lewnes said. "And we want to be the company that helps them do it."

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