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Super Bowl Advertising Strategy.

10 min read
January 30, 2015

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You’ve got the chance of a lifetime: your client ponied up the crisp $4.5 million it took to buy 30 seconds on the Super Bowl this year.

Your job is to make the most of this potentially life-changing opportunity to put your ad in front of the biggest audience in the world. It won’t be easy, though. This is the Super Bowl of advertising too. Some years we’ve seen 100+ ads during The Big Game. And with the latest trend of pre-releasing ads before the game, this is even more of an event for brands to push their messages.

So what would be your Super Bowl advertising strategy to make sure your ad is the one that’s trending on social media and the talk of the office on Monday? Our TMG Groupies weigh in on this all-important question.

To get my attention, I would say that it has to feel the opposite of what everyone else is going to do. It should be simple, genuinely funny and full of sardonic wit, low-budget with a handmade feel, and maybe even not reference football or the Super Bowl. Except for the fact that they can’t understand why this ad placement cost so much. Perhaps that would help explain the low-budget look and feel. That, or I would always watch more episodes of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.
—David Cloyd, Digital Designer | Developer

While I’m not on the creative side of anything that’s for sure, I am a viewer and buyer.

I go with something that touches on the American spirit. After all, the Super Bowl has become our country’s winter Fourth of July. I portray the greatness of our country.

Hopefully, my client has a few more dollars because I need to get a good background song that we all love, if not I’ll go over budget. But we’ll write it off to ‘investment’ if we have to. 😉

Oh and I include a dog, most likely a black lab. Everyone remembers the animal commercials.
—Tim Coppola, Chief Financial Officer

So, I want to engage now and continue to engage my market after the Super Bowl and this commercial is over. I need to find a way to ensure my commercial will be last before returning to the game. Another half million? NBD for my client. So my commercial will be incredibly compelling, a 28-second super drama that ends with a bigger cliffhanger than an episode of Game of Thrones has ever produced. For the final two seconds, we black out the screen and simply say:

[Instagram logo] Xclient
[Twitter Logo] Xclient

Where of course the final 15 seconds and post-climactic resolution can be found.
(The whole sequence will show up later on Facebook … but focus on the NOW apps that people can interact on during the next series of play in the game.)

To ensure we turn a viewer into a follower, we will have made sure our last 30-40 posts on Instagram/Twitter are pure gold in order to compel this and millions of others into future brand advocates.
—Kevin Heffernan, Brand Coordinator

The strategy depends on the client. I’d do witty humor for Doritos, but probably something different for another type of client. I’m not sure if it’s in poor taste, but I personally think it would be hilarious if a sponsor like Wonderbra came in and gave a clever nod to the whole Deflategate controversy.
—Jennifer Hoffmire, Copywriter

I would make sure to extend that 30 seconds as long as possible, first with a social media-driven tryout to appear in the ad. We would create an American Idol-style process where people all over the country could try out to be in our Super Bowl commercial and prove that they are the best spokesperson for the brand, maximizing the six months preceding the game.

We would try to keep the ad’s content top-secret until the big game, but we would make sure to release video teasers in the week leading up the Super Bowl. Our newly created star would be live-tweeting during the game and part of a live Google+ Hangout Q&A with fans afterward, talking through the process and why they are our ultimate spokesperson.
—John Jiloty, Social Media Manager

Puppies. Always use puppies.
—Shannon McCabe, Media Planner | Buyer

I typically advise clients against using humor, but in the case of the Super Bowl, I think it’s all about the context. The environment of the Super Bowl is all about socializing and having fun, no matter who wins, so I think playing into that lighthearted atmosphere works best. And the more self-deprecating to the brand, the better. I think viewers appreciate and remember a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
—Kelli Putney, Senior Vice President | Brand Strategist

Zig as everyone zags. Go against the grain.

The first broadcast of a commercial shot live is the direction I’d go. Never done before.

The audience will participate; in fact they provide facets of the script prior to the Super Bowl.

A user-generated live performance. The live online version will allow you to choose camera angles.
—David Riley, Creative Director

While a lot of brands tend to go all-in on the spectacle of a Super Bowl ad — think a Pepsi spot with athletes, musicians, dancers, three-ring circus, etc. — the spots that resonate the most tend to have a broad emotional appeal. Think Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” from 2012, or Budweiser’s puppy/clydesdales spots. A funny ad can certainly generate a lot of discussion in the short-term, but it is these ads that rely on storytelling and emotional appeals that leave a lasting impact.

If I were advising a client, I would recommend they craft a story that relates to the history or character of their brand that will resonate with their audience on an emotional level. Avoid any references to football, as many in the audience may not be terribly interested in football or the outcome of the game anyway. Of course, a little star power couldn’t hurt, either.
—Josh Robinson, Digital Designer | Developer

My strategy would be to keep the spot authentic to the brand. It might be high production or something very humble, but either way you would feel the connection back to the brand. If the client is spending millions of dollars I don’t want the spot to be a flash in the pan, but rather something talked about the Monday after the Super Bowl and many Mondays to follow!
—Lisa Strock, Vice President | Client Services

I’ve always thought that a company should buy a slot and have a spokesperson — you know, the sort of “Hi, I’m Troy Mcclure” type — say that they are there on behalf of _____ brand who has purchased this time to give them, the viewer, an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

Then the spokesperson would either just sit there and wait, or start reading aloud from A Tale of Two Cities, or possibly something obscure to show they know a thing or two … get the trend-maker demographic to be interested. This could be repeated with the spokesperson doing different time-killing activities — model building, taking a bath, etc.
—Andrew Ucci, Copywriter

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