from underneath the giant spatula

My friends from across the parking lot David and Ken have begun a blog debate on whether a Firefox Super Bowl Ad is a good idea. I’ve been chatting with Ken about this recently and agree that it’s a great idea. So, to back up Ken, I’d like to respond to a number of David’s points.

Does a Super Bowl ad “feel” Mozilla, even with community involvement? Unlike Download Day or the NY Times Ad, appearing on the Super Bowl just doesn’t seem to fit our DNA.

Yes. I think the community coming together to plan and organize something makes anything feel Mozilla, whether it’s sending a laptop to space to claim 100% of the non-Earth market share, sponsoring every Red Panda exhibit in the world, or running a historic Super Bowl ad.

In fact, Firefox is growing even faster overseas. Which makes advertising on the Super Bowl curious. As a very US-centric event, there’s little reason to spend nearly an entire year’s marketing budget on something that so few current and potential new Firefox users will see.

Firefox’s amazing growth overseas is certainly great, but I see it as even more of a reason to make sure our growth in the US stays strong. I disagree that there will be “so few current and potential new Firefox users” watching the Super Bowl — I think it’s the perfect opportunity to get exposure in front of the non-technical audience that’s hardest for us to reach. And, who isn’t a potential new Firefox user, anyway?

It seems that over the last few years, the only way to generate press from your Super Bowl Ad is to show scantily clad women or do something incredibly controversial. … Simply running user-generated or community sponsored commercials is unoriginal and likely wouldn’t provide any additional press.

I’ve never really been one to fit in, but I have to think there are others like me who remember well-done ads long before they can remember a sexual or controversial ad. All we have to do is peak someone’s interest enough to get them to do a search for “firefox” a week later when they see “web browser” mentioned on a website and never thought twice about it before.

NBC used to use the slogan “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you” to promote re-runs. Any Firefox community member who sees a Super Bowl ad would get goosebumps. Any Firefox user who sees a Super Bowl ad would be proud. And I really don’t see a non-Firefox user or reporter who sees a Super Bowl ad saying “community-backed commercials are so unoriginal” and refusing to pay it any attention. I think it’s much more likely that when the Firefox logo appears, one of the people at a Super Bowl party says “Hey, I use Firefox! It’s great!” and the other people at that party remember what he said next time IE crashes.

Retention marketing is indeed a challenge. However, the linkages between Firefox and improved retention by spending an entire year’s marketing budget on 60 30 seconds of TV is misguided. To retain a user (or buyer), an organization needs to consistently engage with them over time.

For existing Firefox users, this isn’t going to come and go in 30 seconds. Before the commercial, getting support and funding for this will be a monumental task, and will involve Firefox users talking to their friends and keeping them involved. After the commercial, when a coworker walks up and sees you using Firefox and says “hey, didn’t I see an ad for them last month?”, you can proudly tell them that they did and why you love it.

The effects of the crop circle, Download Day, and the New York Times ad weren’t constrained to the first-hand witnesses of the events. They had effects on Firefox users and non-Firefox users alike who heard about them and wondered (or already knew) what was so great about a web browser that made people do these things. That’s engaging with users over time brought to a whole new level.

I think the idea is worthy of further discussion and look forward to reading additional points of view. And by the way, I haven’t watched the Super Bowl in years.