What the Super Bowl Has Taught Us About Marketing

Grab your snacks and adorn your team’s jersey, because Super Bowl LIV is right around the corner. We all know that big-name brands spend millions of dollars each year for a 30-second time slot. After all, the Super Bowl is the most-watched event on television each year, with an average of 98.2 million viewers. Close to 20% of people only watch the big game for the ads, so when the word “advertising” is mentioned in regards to the Super Bowl, most people think only of the commercials aired during the game. The tides are changing, however, and Super Bowl marketing has evolved into a multi-channel phenomenon.

Popular Advertising Tactics

The price of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl has almost doubled during the past 15 years, and brands have been finding new, more cost-effective ways to reach their audience without missing out on the buzz of the big game. Emerging tactics that have become imperative to Super Bowl marketing include social media marketing, playing to customer’s emotions, and designing bigger, and better giveaways.

Taking to Social Media

In the past, most advertising efforts were pre-calculated, but the growth of social media has completely changed the way we think of advertising. It all started back in 2013 when a large power outage ran the Super Bowl off the air for a few moments, and Nabisco’s Oreo Cookie Twitter was there to seize the moment with a graphic stating “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” that was shared to Twitter. In 2020, this may not sound impressive; but, 2013 was a time before brands were flooding user timelines with gimmicky advertisements.

This innovative ad got thousands of people talking about Oreos, changing Super Bowl advertising as we know it.

Now, advertisers have learned to use social media channels to their advantage. Days before kickoff, brands are releasing teasers for their highly anticipated ads on platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, generating millions of views before game day even arrives. Doing so allows them to raise brand awareness while generating curiosity from potential viewers who may now be anticipating the full-length ad. 

A great example of how this multi-channel strategy has evolved is Snickers’ Super Bowl campaign. The brand released two short teaser videos as part of its #SnickersFixTheWorld campaign, showing everyday people talking about everyday annoyances, for example, one features a man talking about his 30-year-old son who is a part-time D.J. still living at home. The ad ends with “the world is out of sorts, we’ll fix it Super Bowl Sunday.”, and the only way to find out how they’ll fix the world is by watching the full-length ad when it’s released. In addition to releasing the ad on YouTube, they also posted a series of tweets to keep building momentum.

The use of social media allows brands to engage users in real-time, and garner organic engagement that lasts long after the game ends.

Speaking to Customer’s Emotions

When it comes to creating ad content, brands need an idea that either strikes an emotional chord with viewers, is funny enough for users to want to share, or has an element that makes it memorable enough to be talked about long after the scores have been tallied. Timing is everything, and sometimes airing content before the big game is best to avoid the clutter.

Take for example Gillette’s controversial 2019 “We Believe” ad, which tackled the premise of toxic masculinity during the height of the #MeToo movement. It’s likely you’ve seen it, as this was one of Super Bowls’ most talked-about ads (even though it aired almost two weeks before the game). This pre-game advert set a precedent, ushering in an increase of ads that take the emotional approach to resonate with consumers.

Getting Creative with Giveaways

Everyone from local businesses to big-name brands host giveaways and special promotions surrounding the year’s largest sporting event, that’s nothing new. What is different, however, is the creative way some brands are approaching it in 2020. A good example of this is Pizza Hut. In previous years we’ve seen Pizza Hut give 20% off all orders during Super Bowl, host pizza giveaways, and even change their name to Pizza Hut Hut to play on football terminology. 

This year, however, they’re doing things a little differently. Pizza Hut is offering the parents of the first twins born after Super Bowl LIV’s kick off a lifetime of free pizza, tickets to next year’s Super Bowl, and a $22,000 donation towards their newborn’s education funds.

Hosting this unique giveaway has garnered the brand hundreds of blogs written about them, thousands of tweets, and a huge amount of publicity without having to spend millions of dollars on an advertising slot during the game itself.

Key Takeaways:

There’s something to be learned for businesses of all sizes and verticals when analyzing how the big brands get the word out during the year’s biggest sports event. Sifting through all of the top-performing ads over the years, a couple of things have held constant:

Be Unique

No matter what channels or tactics are being used, the most important thing is to create a message that will resonate with your audience and to be memorable while doing it. Breaking through the noise starts with an idea that is uniquely your own, leaving customers wanting to know more. Like we saw with Oreo in 2016, seizing an opportunity to differentiate yourself can make massive waves.

Timing is Everything

Syndicating your campaign at the right time is almost as important as having the right content. Depending on the content, it may be best to start marketing efforts before a big event to generate interest in potential customers who may be watching. The Super Bowl causes a mess in the world of advertising, and sometimes being proactive is the best way to rise above the competition (and save advertising budget at the same time).

As technology evolves, it’s likely advertisers will find even more creative ways to get the word about their brands in the coming Super Bowl. The most important thing is to create content with heart, that will resonate with your target audience. Every great campaign has started with an idea. At Cape & Bay, we’re here to take your ideas and turn them into amazing marketing campaigns that deliver results.

Ready to bring your vision to life? Let’s chat.

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