Super Ad

Got $5m spare? Then buy a 30 second Super Bowl ad

The Blogfather looks at the advertising phenomenon that is the Super Bowl: ambushes, adverts and all.

A bit like the unofficial merchandise sellers you get selling counterfeit gear outside a stadium, brands digitally lurk in wait outside the epicentre of the Super Bowl crucible.

Be prepared for your social media feeds to be filled with all things American football related (however tenuously) this weekend, as Super Bowl L (50) rolls into San Francisco.

The first thing that caught my eye is that NFL has ditched the use of Roman numerals. They usually look cool, but there is something about a lone ‘L’ that just don’t look right design-wise, as well as the ‘L’ standing for a loss in sports, of course. So the branding has rightly gone with digits.

The two weeks that straddle the Super Bowl, like a massive, over-laden marketing mule, has almost become a festival of ads. After the anticipation generated around the release of new Christmas ads, in the UK at least, it’s probably the most eagerly awaited time of year in the ad game.

There are two parties in this. Those that have the dosh to spend on the ads, and those that try to ambush it. A bit like the unofficial merchandise sellers you get selling counterfeit gear outside a stadium, brands digitally lurk in wait outside the epicentre of the Super Bowl crucible.

The ambusher’s weapon? Social Media. During last year’s Super Bowl, there were 28.4 million mentions of the game on Twitter alone. Volvo, whom you might think could spend $5m on an ad if they wanted, decided not to in 2015, and went for an ambush. They launched "The Greatest Interception Ever" campaign that encouraged fans to tweet the hashtag #VolvoContest whilst entering a friend to win a Volvo XC60 during the airing of rival carmaker’s ad spots. It went viral, with the hashtag generating 55,000 tweets and some 114,000 mentions.

Volvo trended globally during the game on social media, while they later announced the promotion yielded a 70.7 percent year-over-year increase in XC60 sales in February 2015. And all for gratis, according to the agency responsible for it, Grey New York.

In 2014, Esurance took the first spot to air after the Super Bowl. The strategy saved the brand 30 percent, or $1.5 million, something Esurance ingeniously turned to their advantage. The money saved was given to one lucky person via a sweepstakes on Twitter. The hashtag #EsuranceSave30 started trending straight after the game and achieved silly numbers; 5.3 million mentions and 2.6 billion social impressions globally.

Yet the social side has got so huge, that brands are even spending silly money there, for example splashing seven figures with Twitter just to have unique emojis created. Love them or loathe them, emojis are now an integral part of how people communicate, and the word itself is now in the dictionary. Budweiser has bought two of them, for Budweiser and Bud Light. Artistically, they don’t look much better than a Turner Prize winner, I can’t imagine them going for a $1m at Christies, but the value is more deeply rooted.

In fact Budweiser, the only official Super Bowl beer sponsor, are having a right spend up, with two different adverts to air during the game, one with Helen Mirren, the other with Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen.

The pay off from sharing ads early via the press and social media is such that it is not negated by the reduction in the surprise factor of when they air on TV. Although I imagine, and hope, there will be ads that are kept under wraps until the game, which is still exciting.

My favourite ad I’ve seen so far is this one from Kia, featuring Christopher Walken. A bit like Clash Of Clans recruiting Christoph Waltz, you just can’t go wrong with a bit of Walken, he just oozes class and cool. Which raises the question; who would win in a Cool Off between Waltz and Walken? Tight call. Probably just Walken, for his longevity.

But I digress. The Super Bowl ad frenzy is so big that even not having an advert featured during it is an actual thing. PETA and Ashley Madison garnered press attention previously for pretending they had ads that were too controversial to be broadcast. Naughty, but clever, sods.

Most consumers will be watching coverage of the Super Bowl on two screens; TV and mobile, so brands that understand this best should win.

So my predictions for the Super Bowl? On the field I can’t see past the Panthers. 24-17. As for the brand winner, it is a wide open race. Expect to see a lot more attempted ambushing. There will no doubt be something inspired, but expect to see some mediocre-to-shite ambushing, as if Robin Hood took outlawing back up again in his 70’s. He’d get his quiver caught up in the bramble, and end up with his tights round his ankles, baring his arse to a column of nonplussed knights. Yes, expect to see the marketing equivalent of that. From someone like Pizza Hut. If they can produce this shit, they are capable of anything.

If you are staying up late Sunday, enjoy the game.

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