Rethinking the Super Bowl Spot

It’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl is this weekend and regardless of your team choice, one thing is certain, people LOVE the commercials. The Super Bowl commercial has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon within our society, a little more so in the advertising world. It’s has become an event in and of itself, people talking during the game and shushing each other during the commercials, laughter and discussion afterwards, water cooler chatter the next day, emailing them to friends and family, posting on Facebook, etc. It really has become an “Anticipate-Enjoy-Relive” situation within our society.

But from a marketing perspective, what is the role of a Super Bowl spot? Is it to build awareness? Drive consideration? Enhance loyalty? Push to digital platforms to drive engagement? Or is it something completely different… something as a “Thank You” to customers as an entertaining piece of branded content?

Thinking about the marketing funnel, one thing is sure, the Super Bowl spot has become a bit of an outlier, something that is developed for it’s entertainment prowess and temporary boost in sales.

The question becomes, how can brands leverage the power and excitement of the “Anticipation-Enjoy-Relive” process that the Super Bowl creates.

How can developing an integrated marketing campaign around the spot ignite a brand with more of a long term focus than the short term burst the commercials themselves create? As we look at what is happening this year, we see a glimpse of what’s to come in the next few years. But putting it all together we will have a tremendous campaign that would boost ROI and extend the brand more into the lifestyle of their consumers.

Doritos: for a few years now, Doritos has allowed their customers to make their Super Bowl spot. With a competition, Doritos customers develop an idea, shoot, then compete against others to win the acclaimed spot.

Honda: Leaking their Super Bowl spot with Ferris Bueller has built a tremendous amount of earned media through PR and the social environment, extending the impressions that the spot will generate on Sunday.

VW: After last year’s “leak” success, VW has launched “teaser” videos that follow the same theme as last year, but doesn’t give away the commercial itself. Generating excitement and sharing in advance of Sunday.

Papa Johns: Guessing the coin toss right will get you free pizza. A product giveaway move has given this pizza chain a tremendous social push right before Sunday’s game with a giveaway.

The Future

The future of the Super Bowl spot is unknown. As we witnessed with Pepsi last year and with FedEx, brands are pulling their money from the Super Bowl and focusing it elsewhere. And with budgets continually shrinking, how valuable will the Super Bowl spend be in the future. Regardless of the outcome, there are some tremendous opportunities to expand the 30 second Super Bowl spot and extend the effort further for the brand. Integrating all aspects of the brand and ensuring the Super Bowl spot has a distinctive purpose will allow marketers the opportunity to engage on a deeper level, extend the reach of the “campaign” and over-satisfy the expectations of the consumer.

Below are some trends and opportunities brands can capture to drive the best results possible.
Croudsource: As we see in the Doritos campaign, consumers love being a part of the creative process. It is one of the most intimate activities a brand can give it’s customers. To extend the Doritos campaign, they could use varying spots leading up to and after the Super Bowl, with various leaks allowing for expanded reach and scale. By allowing multiple consumer’s ideas to be recognized pushes the level of engagement and intimacy with the consumers.

Leaks: Generating “buzz” through leaks as we’ve seen with Honda this year and VW over the past two years has driven a tremendous amount of earned media and anticipation. VW is doing something great by generating a storyline across the leaks to tell a bigger story. Expanding this throughout the year and throughout the brand ecosystem will, not only expand the reach of the campaign, but also expand the story telling aspect of the brand; furthering the engagement between brand and consumer.

Digi-gration: Rumors have it that 1/3 of the Super Bowl spots will be integrated with Shazam (a mobile application that identifies audio then serves up related content on the mobile device). It’ll be interesting to see what the return and participation will be. However, it shows a great trend as to how brands can integrate TV with digital / mobile. As TV becomes more connected, brands can extend this integration with various activities for Instant Calls to Action, Social Rewards (as shown in the Papa John’s example above), and customized multi-screen experiences.

Package integration: Coordinating the brand ecosystem with the campaign, the package becomes a touchpoint to expand the Super Bowl campaign into something more sustainable. Driving real time social rewards through a TV spot through package information, would boost pre game sales, during game engagement and sharing, as well as post game awareness and loyalty among the consumer base. Communicating this prior to and after the game could continue the sales boost and brand extension.

As our technologies continue to converge and conversations happening in faster than real-time, we are given amazing opportunities to create what is valuable for consumers. Something larger than a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl. It is time we put the investment to work and drive larger results and deeper brand relationships. I can’t wait to see what those crazy advertisers deliver this year!


Photo courtesy of Flickr – MBK (Marjie)



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