Most of us are still abuzz with interest over the recent string of infamous Super bowl commercials released this past Sunday.  It’s amazing how these clips can elicit a wide array of emotions from us in just 30-60 seconds:  Make tears well up in our eyes, grip our sides in laughter, pause and commend their cleverness, or make our hearts grow 10x their normal size (ether from the swell of a heartfelt moment or the call of the fast foods).  These commercials give us so much, and now they ask for something in return. Your participation.

You may have heard of Shazam, the app that identifies a song, album, artist/band by listening to a short audio clip of the song while it’s playing. Shazam started in 2002 as a pay per use SMS service, which expanded into an app with the launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008. You can Shazam songs at restaurants, on the radio, just about anywhere really and all for free. While Shazam has been very useful for identifying “that one song” or discovering a new artist, it’s uses have been limited to identifying music. It did change and advance with everything else, integrating social sites, sharing, even setting up an account to save your tags, but did nothing out-of-the-box to gain new users.

A recent development within the app has allowed Shazam to reach its full potential. The first time I saw the culmination of the idea on my television, I will admit that I was struck by the innovation and creativity.  Shazam has now teamed with marketers to allow a commercial’s song or tune to be “Shazamed”, allowing the user to find the song that was played and a few other great features. You can browse the website via the tabbed menu below the song; there are even customizable tabs for each company. The app has transformed from an aging musical prodigy to the newest marketing tool in a matter of months. This new use for Shazam even resembles an updated and more dynamic version of a QR code reader.

One of the best examples I saw of this at the Super bowl was a commercial for Old Navy, which once Shazamed, leads you to a menu where you can find “The Band’s Look”, watch the music video, or get the song free.  A few other companies utilized this, including Bud Light and Progressive. They each took advantage of the new uses and made it work for the company. They offered promotions that required “Shazaming”, hidden bonuses, and a creative way to get the customers more information by reaching them through their love for music.

These clips elicited a rare emotion from me last weekend; admiration at their ability to reinvent themselves, and rise up from the confines of a one dimensional app. These commercials will undoubtedly occupy our TV’s and become increasingly less entertaining and more annoying as last Sunday grows smaller in our rear view mirrors over the next year.  I think it’s fair to say that we can get used to seeing that familiar blue box with the black and white insignia at the corner of our screens though, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I tip my hat to you, Shazam; for your staying power, your guts, and your brains.

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