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Why an Ad Tech Company Is Heading to the Super Bowl


Criteo CMO Brendan McCarthy speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about investing in the biggest and most expensive advertising opportunity on the planet

Why an Ad Tech Company Is Heading to the Super Bowl

In what is an extremely meta move, a global ad tech company, Criteo, is advertising at this year's Super Bowl. 

The spot, which was created by Technology, Humans and Taste [THAT] and directed by Believe Media's Floria Sigismondi, features someone faced with various dystopian and utopian future versions of herself. The exchanges between the characters reflect what Criteo calls an "'open internet’ where consumers are in control of what they discover, how companies can interact with their information, and how businesses and creators of all kinds can connect with them, beyond the technology giants". Its aim is to disrupt what Criteo sees as an almost synonymous relationship between the internet and FAANG by focusing on the virtues of the open web.

Brendan McCarthy, CMO at Criteo, tells us that the team has been working on the spot since last summer and was keen to unveil it on as big a stage as possible. The Super Bowl naturally became part of the conversation. "While the open internet has always been part of Criteo’s DNA, there’s never been a more important time to talk about it than right now," says Brendan. "There are many factors that play into understanding the state of the internet, including Web3, the metaverse, evolving attitudes about data privacy, and the expanding powers of the walled gardens." 

He believes that Criteo is perfectly positioned to lead that conversation about the future because supporting the open internet has always been at their core. "And consumers need to be part of those conversations," he adds. "We want consumers to be intrigued and start to engage with Criteo – a company they’ve probably never heard of. The spot speaks to the ideas of building the open internet and starts to set the stage for consumers about their ability to control their experiences. This is a perfect time to engage with a consumer audience for the first time because people care more than ever about the choices they are making on the internet. They are confronted with issues of data and privacy on a regular basis and want to learn more."

Despite the differences between a platform like Criteo and the consumer brands more typically associated with the Super Bowl, access to those very consumers is exactly why the ad tech firm is investing in the Big Game. “Criteo wants to build an open internet where you can go where you want, shop where you want and connect with who you want, outside of the walled gardens of tech giants,” says Brendan. “To do this, it’s critical that consumers understand what that future looks like – or could look like. Therefore, we need a big stage and opportunity to talk to consumers for the first time. The Big Game is an opportunity for Criteo to start that consumer conversation about the future of the internet. It’s about a future where data creates better experiences and where we can connect on our own terms.” In addition to the spot, there will also be a dedicated microsite experience for consumers to learn more. 

This also meant that Criteo’s business needed translating into understandable terms for the everyday consumer. The expertise of the team at THAT came into play to create “a very metaphorical spot, filled with very intentional choices”. 

“We imagined what the future would look like with and without the ability to make choices online and brought the idea to life with a strong, female character as the ultimate champion of freedom and choice,” says Brendan. “We imagined all the future versions of her and what her future would look like if the world was destroyed and then rebuilt as a truly free and open one. These versions symbolise Criteo’s work to build an open internet where consumers are in control of what they discover, how companies can interact with their information, and how businesses and creators of all kinds can connect with them…beyond the tech giants.”

What’s more, there’s also the small fact that the Super Bowl is the biggest day on the calendar for advertisers and marketers too. “We absolutely had this in mind when deciding the moment to start this conversation,” says Brendan. “We purposefully selected the biggest day in advertising to boldly launch a dialogue with both industry players (marketers, businesses) and consumers, about the future of the internet – where data is king, but not at the expense of consumer choice, privacy, or diversity of innovation due to the size of companies and creators.  

“We’re at a pivotal crossroads in the evolution of the internet,” he adds. “I know the open internet isn’t a topic that’s discussed on a day-to-day basis, but it’s something we all, as consumers, experience as we browse and make choices on the internet. Because our entire business is driven by giving consumers more choices online, we can see further into the future than competitors and have a better understanding of where we're going.

“This ad is just one of the ways we’re proudly taking a stand about the future of the open internet to guide clients, employees, content creators, and media partners to create an online ecosystem with more diversity, inclusion, and access than has ever existed before.”

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Categories: Business Services, Marketing

LBB Editorial, Tue, 08 Feb 2022 16:11:00 GMT