Super Bowl Advertising: What’s Your Game Plan?

With Super Bowl XLV’s advertising inventory sold out, what can this year’s two teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, teach marketers? Make sure that you’ve a solid strategy for the game, especially since one out of four viewers watch the game only for the ads according to Retail Advertising and Marketing Association research conducted by BIGresearch!

Give the media cost of Super Bowl ad, it’s critical to integrate this promotion into your overall marketing plans. Last year, three major CPG advertisers took their different approaches to maximize their Super Bowl advertising. These highly successful campaigns underscore the need for today’s marketers to leverage this marketing investment as part of a larger plan that includes online engagement via social media.

  • Doritos extended excitement in the pre-game period to crowd source consumers’ videos from which they chose one for the Super Bowl. They’re doing it again this year.
  • Old Spice introduced hottie Isaiah Mustafa as the “Man Your Man Could Be” to reposition your grandfather’s brand. P&G extended this advertising personality in their record-breaking 186 online video social media campaign, one of 2010’s more discussed campaigns. (Here’s more Old Spice commentary.)
  • Pepsi used the pre-game period to announce that, instead of running a Super Bowl ad, they were launching their Refresh campaign, a social media engagement website that continued throughout the year. (Note: Other Pepsi products were advertised and/or promoted during the Super Bowl, namely Doritos and Gaterade.) This showed that a Super Bowl campaign didn’t need to appear during the game or its related shows.

With a solid line up of ads from Super Bowl regulars like Anheuser-Busch InBev, few ads will have the impact of Apple’s 1984 ad. With years of experience creating commercials, marketers know that it’s no longer just about the commercial, especially since these commercials get lots of post-game commentary.

How to keep the marketing going after the game

Therefore, in addition to creating a spectacular advertising experience, it’s critical to think more broadly in terms of other elements that can help enhance your advertising spend.  Here’s a checklist of ways to connect with viewers and others.

  • Online connection. Which option(s) will you use given your target audience? Among the choices are URL, short code (SMS), Facebook page, QR code or phone number.
  • Microsite. Will you use a special ad-related mini-site?
  • Paid search terms. Have you expanded your paid search to relate to your Super Bowl ad? Think in terms of the name of the ad, characters in the ad and other ad-related elements. Also, it’s important to keep this campaign after the game. Career Builder had a problem with this a few years ago.
  • Online videos. In addition to websites dedicated to Super Bowl ads, where will you post your ad and related footage? On your website, Facebook page and/or YouTube?
  • Mobile sites. With the growth of smartphones and other portable devices like the iPad, do you need to have a mobile website? (Here’s more mobile research.) Do your customers look for your product while they’re on-the-go? Do you need a supporting mobile app for your ad?
  • Social media. Where do your fans congregate on social media? How will you engage them there?
  • PR. Do you have any new angles that you can leverage to take advantage of the advertising news frenzy?

Can’t afford a Super Bowl ad?

What happens if you don’t have a super size marketing budget? There’s still hope for your marketing. While you can’t use the words Super Bowl, you can create an effective campaign around the “big game” or whatever football celebration term you can invent. The average American is expected to spend $59.33 on game related merchandise, including food and apparel, based on recent research.

Alternatively, if your products have a distinctly, non-game appeal, you can build that up. For example, I received an emailing for a blow out knitting sale scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday. To maximize your potential, think of female-oriented services like manicures and restaurants and create ways to entice users who aren’t interested in the game.

Regardless of your business, the goal is to maximize the impact of your advertising investment. Online is a critical component since that’s where the activity continues after the game is finished.

What’s your opinion about this year’s Super Bowl advertising? What do you suggest that advertisers do online and on social media platforms.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: Noodle93 via flickr

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