In an age of ‘digital detoxes’ and ad blocking, the Super Bowl is unique. It remains one of the only global events where TV ad spots are as big as the main attraction. From the first touchdown, to the half time show, the Super Bowl is an entertainment extravaganza. A 60-minute game often takes over three hours to watch because of stoppages, most of which turn into ad breaks. Over half of respondents to a recent Nielsen report said they loved the ads as much as the game itself. Every year, tens of thousands of people vote on the most popular ads. This year, “The 100 Year Game” from the NFL, was voted as the most popular, closely followed by Amazon’s “Not Everything Makes The Cut” and Microsoft’s “We all win”. There is no other event where the commercial breaks draw similar levels of anticipation.
With the ad-break being arguably as eventful as the game itself, how did brands capitalise on this extravaganza in 2019?
Partying like there’s no work tomorrow
It’s no secret that the Super Bowl is a party event and this year was no exception. It was reported that 12% of employees had planned to call in sick after the game. Fast-food service Jack In The Box, wanted to take advantage of this. Called “Super-Sick-Monday”, Jack In The Box launched a campaign a few days before, pre-seeding the idea to order a Super Jack’d Monday box via Door Dash. This is a great example of how brands can engage with consumer habits around the main event itself. Doing this will add longevity to an event where most campaigns are focussed on capturing attention for one night.
Apps and Social make a good team alongside TV
This year, a viral Instagram account provided a surprising opportunity for a brand to break out at the Super Bowl. The World_Record_Egg account had one ambition: to break Kylie Jenner’s world record of 18 million likes for a single post on Instagram…by posting a picture of an egg. The image reached over 52 million likes and grew to 10 million followers. However, over the space of a couple of weeks, more posts showed the egg beginning to crack.
Eventually a post showed the egg morphing into a football, saying that “all would be revealed” on Hulu after the Super Bowl. It turned out that this frivolous marketing stunt was in fact promoting a new show on mental health, airing on Hulu. Whatever the account’s long-term ambitions are, this “under-the-radar” attempt at reaching audiences undeniably succeeded in generating buzz around Hulu and more importantly highlighting an important social issue.
‘Going long’ on video content
Although TV is a huge draw, partnering with media publishers can still lead to successful campaigns that emotionally resonate. One example is Pizza Hut, who created a two-part video series “Hometown Heroes”, centered around two NFL stars Tyler Lockett and Alvin Kamara. The series followed the athletes as they visited their team’s local communities, promoting the values of the sport and helping to inspire young people.
Distributed by Yahoo Sports, the video is open to a huge audience. 4.3 million people downloaded the Yahoo Sports app because of their announcement to stream the Super Bowl through it. This is a great example of storytelling, partnerships and channel allocation coming together to make video a powerful strategy.
If you didn’t tweet about it, did it actually happen?
Sporting events are always perfect material for Social conversations and capitalising on in-the-moment action. The Super Bowl is no different.
A great example from this year’s game was how Frank’s RedHot sauce used twitter. They played upon their tag-line and asked fans to “put that emoji on everything”. People who saw ads could tweet about it, adding the pepper emoji and using the hashtag #FranksSweepstakes. It brought together 54,000 fans and 40 other brands, driving 3.5 million impressions.
What about next year’s Super Bowl?
After another successful year of TV ads, it’s hard to imagine them not being king. However, looking ahead, will brands be considering other channels too? Here are some additional ways brands can win:
- Remember the cultural “side-effects” from events like the Super Bowl. Brands can take advantage of events like “Super-Sick-Monday” and be impactful long after the event is over.
- TV ads during the Super Bowl are highly effective, but that’s no loss to video content online. With the right story for the audience on that channel, brands can have a big reach.
- Social channels are perfect for being in-the-moment with your audience, but there is more potential here than just replying to a tweet.
- Technology such as home assistants, offer new avenues to reach audiences in their own homes.