“Allison, Can you explain what Internet is?”

That’s the punch line of a video that I’ve used frequently in my presentations over the last couple of years.

It’s also the set-up for what I think will be the best Super Bowl ad today.

Until now, most people had not seen it before I showed it to them in my presentation. I typically introduce it by saying we’re going to take the WABAC Machine to 1994, to the set of the TODAY show, and hear Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric discussing the Internet.

After Katie queries Allison, and the crowd laughs knowingly, I generally say something like…

That was just 20 years ago. Bryant and Katie weren’t dummies. They were just encountering something that was unfamiliar. Twitter and other social media platforms use that funny sign, the ‘a with the ring around it’ too. Today you can’t even imagine life without email. And if you’re not already using platforms like Twitter, it won’t be long before they’re just as familiar to you as email is today.

Thanks to the commercial BMW is running in the Super Bowl today, if I continue to use the original video snippet I’ll no longer have the element of surprise. As I write this, the YouTube video already has 9.5 million views. And if last year’s audience is a guide, another 110 million or so will see it this evening.

So I’m going to need to adapt my approach, but hats off to BMW for a creative take-off on some classic footage from the NBC video vault:

SMUG Super Bowl Ad and Social Media ROI

Here’s the Super Bowl Ad you didn’t see on NBC:


Among the reasons for this omission:

  • The ad 34 seconds long, instead of the customary 30;
  • I was about $2.6 million short of the cash required to pay for the airtime; and
  • I created it during the Super Bowl today.

One of the ironies of social media is that everyone asks about the ROI, or return on investment. It’s an understandable question, but one of the points I make in presentations is that as I (investment) approaches zero, ROI approaches infinity, because it is calculated as follows:

ROI = benefits/costs

My cost of producing this stellar Super Bowl ad wasn’t exactly zero, but it was zero out-of-pocket. I already had invested $150 in the Flip video camera used to record it, and the production took a bit of my time and attention as I enjoyed the game .

I expect the benefits to be non-monetary as well, measured mainly in the satisfaction of getting more people involved in exploring social media. I hope you will use the ShareThis tool below to pass this post (with its embedded ad) along to your friends and co-workers who might benefit from becoming a SMUGgle, and invite them to enroll. I think it captures the essence of SMUG in a brief video snippet (but how did I manage to leave Blogging out?!)

Then we’ll see what happens to the SMUG enrollment, currently at 261 members of our Facebook group.

Updated: I originally had embedded the ad in the Facebook player, but I’m wondering whether that might be responsible for a SMUG slowdown, so I took that version down, at least for now. But you can see the higher-resolution Facebook version in the SMUG Facebook group.

Updated 2/3/09: Here’s the same video in a Blip.TV player. Another post coming on the topic of video players soon: