Cloud Computing Enters Public Consciousness Through Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl Commercials

Advertising is an integral part of our everyday lives, reflecting popular trends and shaping public opinion. From politics to economics, from sports to technology, advertising is ubiquitous, pervading almost all areas of human activity. And, if advertising be an art, its biggest canvas is the Super Bowl.

For several years now, the Super Bowl commercials have held pride of place in the American consumer psyche. These commercials are analyzed, praised and criticized long after the game is done and over with, simply because of their ability to influence consumer behavior throughout the year. In fact, there are dedicated measuring mechanisms like the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter and the website ADBOWL that track these commercials and rank them on their effects on the consumer.

The Super Bowl commercials represent the high point in every marketer’s year, the opportunity to present what industries feel are important to their businesses. Not for nothing are the advertising slots the most expensive in the world. It has been reported that for the 2011 Super Bowl, companies were charge $3 million for a 30-second slot. Even with an economy in doldrums, the rates actually increased this year.

There’s a reason for such a lengthy prelude. For the first time in Super Bowl advertising history, cloud computing featured in a commercial. Or rather, in two of them.

Salesforce.com’s two commercials featuring animated representations of members of the pop group Black Eyed Peas represent a true acknowledgement of where cloud computing stands today, right at the brink of public consciousness. After years of pitching the technology to IT professionals, cloud computing has entered the mainstream, with the general consumer being educated on the benefits of being “on the cloud”.

These new commercials were promoting a new service called Chatter.com, a sort of enhanced Facebook with the functionality of Google Docs. Chatter is pitched by its parent company, Salesforce.com, as a “free, private, and secure social network just for your business”. In addition to being a private network, Chatter.com will allow users to upload documents, share them and work on them cooperatively, a la Google Docs.

What’s more, Chatter.com can allow companies to integrate with Facebook and Twitter, with complete control. “You can’t launch a new social network, public or private, without letting in the current perennials. Chatter features a Twitter and Facebook widget that can draw in feeds from both networks. You can limit the stream to only include messages or updates that pertain to your company or your project.  And, like all other social networks, you can use Chatter seamlessly while on the go via your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone.

One of the commercials begins with an animated Will.i.am, frontman for the Black Eyed Peas, being asked his opinion about the “cloud.” The screen then pans to an animated cloud, which Will.i.am calls “Chatty”, and describes as, “I love this dude. He allows me and my team stay aligned so, like, we are all on the same page and stuff.”

Truthfully speaking, the two commercials haven’t won rave reviews, but the fact that they were part of the Super Bowl experience has truly brought “cloud computing” into the public consciousness. Whether Chatter.com brings in millions for Salesforce.com is a question still waiting to be answered, but the cloud computing community can be grateful to the company for furthering its cause. The day is not far when the other big boys in the cloud computing game like Amazon, IBM and Oracle also start promoting their services on the overpriced Super Bowl slots.

By Sourya Biswas

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