Last night's Grammy awards was not the Super Bowl, which broke a tweets-per-second record, but it was still a chance for advertisers to tap into an audience watching the event on television and using second screens to discuss the event on social media.
But, much as they did last week, most brands scored a big swing-and-a-miss: big, because Twitter was already super-charged with Saturday night's death of Whitney Houston, meaning some people who had no plans to watch the broadcast were tuning in after reading tweets about the 48-year-old singer.
It looks like the Grammys failed to break the tweets-per-second record with its tribute to Houston as some had predicted, but even before the broadcast started, E! Television was reporting that Houston's death was generating about 30,000 tweets per minute, including 1,500 tweets per second in the hour after her death was first reported Saturday night. Sunday's Grammy Awards broadcast clearly benefited from the timing of her death, drawing 39 million viewers. It was the second highest total of all-time, and shattered last year's viewership of 26.6 million viewers.
No brand, obviously, was looking to capitalize from Houston's death. But few brands seemed poised to benefit on the increased use of second screens even if it had been a normal broadcast in a normal year, according to Lora Schaeffer, Resource Interactive's director of social media.
"Brands need to catch up with increasingly social consumers and realize that it's not just a social missed opportunity, but a commerce missed opportunity," Schaeffer said. "Technological barriers continue to fall as consumer adoption of purchasing through social and mobile channels continue to rise....For every brand that fails to come to that realization, a competitor is already working to deliver on that vision."
The unexpected winner from Schaeffer's point of view was Chipotle, which used the event to showcase its first national ad in its 18-year history. The two-minute animated ad, featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay's "The Scientist," blew up Twitter even though the advertisement didn't cross-reference social media channels.