What Can We Learn from the Big Game Marketing Approach?

Every year brands compete for prime time spots during the Big Game, and with a whopping 100+ million viewers, it’s an audience goldmine for TV advertisers – but it comes with a hefty price of $5M for 30 seconds. That’s 150,000 times the per minute cost of the blockbuster hit Juno, a film that raised more than $231M at the box office! So that raises the question – is it worth it?

The purpose of any advertisement, selling aside, is to highlight the benefits of a product and make it stand out from the rest of the marketing noise. Content marketing takes this a step further and aims to engage and retain customers by offering more value on the consumer journey from TV to point of purchase. Let’s take a look at some of the added value approaches brands used this year, and why they did or didn’t work.

The Twitter Competition

Twitter-Wins-The-Super-BowlEsurance offered a $1.5M giveaway, and with a whopping 2.39 million entrants, it surely does sound like a success story doesn’t it? Well, we beg to differ. A lot of brands use this method to grow their Twitter following rapidly, but it doesn’t always work the way they hoped it would. It’s a simple strategy that asks viewers to follow them on Twitter in order to win a prize, but it’s one that we always advise businesses to use with caution. The problem is that the vast majority of entrants don’t care about engaging with the brand or signing up for their services, they’re just in it for the money. Once the prize disappears, so does the audience’s interest and all that’s left is a community of thousands of dead leads drowning out the real customers.

Now with brands like Skittles, this type of approach is perfect. Firstly, because you get to actually experience the product for free, and secondly because only people who like sweet candy or have family members who do are likely to sign up. By attracting only their target audience, Skittles kills two birds with one stone; they create a thriving community of contributors who advocate the product as well as provide a direct channel of feedback from true fans.

Crowdsourcing Content

doritos-crash-the-super-bowl-2015-contestEvery year Doritos offers thousands of young creatives the opportunity to compete for a chance to have their work aired during the Big Game. For a video maker, this is the equivalent of being handed a Hollywood contract – the doorway to success. And for Doritos, it’s an all access pass to all of the winning creator’s friends and family members. A waterfall of positive word-of-mouth publicity that happens when the filmmaking teams share their submissions on their own social channels.

But Doritos wasn’t the only one this year to put crowdsourcing to work for them. Intuit Quickbooks got in on the action too. They offered 15,000 small businesses a chance to compete for a 30-second ad slot during prime time, not only engaging directly with their target audience but also reinforcing the message behind the product as a tool that supports small businesses. Have a look at the winner, ‘Storm’s a Brewin’, by Death Wish Coffee.

The Serial Approach

CaqTTfTVIAAWFesHyundai takes the cake here with a four-part series that showcases the many features of the new Hyundai Genesis. With an accumulative online viewing total of approximately 46 million, the series is clearly a success. It brings the Genesis’ features to life through comedy, capitalizing on celebrity faces such as Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart, just enough to win our attention without distracting us from its purpose – to highlight the model’s new features.

Another brand that attempted to get in on the serial action was Budweiser. An all-time favorite of mine, this year’s results were disappointing, and I found myself longing for last year’s winning video “Puppy Love”. This year, the brand encourages its viewers to not drink and drive in a “notoriously frank” message delivered by Helen Mirren. In their follow up commercial, however, they encourage viewers to “Not back down from a challenge or a drink. The two disparate content pieces create confusion, the latter completely stomping out the credibility of the former and delivering a message that can only be summarized as “Drinking excessively is ok, as long as you’re not driving.”

Multiple Touchpoints, and Big Picture Content Strategy

This is where most brands fell short. When I started out on this journey to investigate whether or not the hefty price for 30 seconds of air time was worth it, I knew that I’d have to watch every single Big Game ad released this side of 2016. Now, the trick to any good commercial is to catch your viewer’s attention in the first ten seconds, so during my research I wanted the freedom to exercise my right to skip, and give my attention to only those ads that delivered on the ten-second rule. I also didn’t want to spend ages trolling the net, so instead of searching for each video individually, I went to the CBS website. I figured they would have created a content hub for fans to view their favorite commercials. Seems sensible right?

Instead, what I found was one epic video of all the ads spliced together. That’s one and a half hours of non-stop advertising! They’d taken away my right to skip, and in the words of internet sensation Sweet Brown, “Aint nobody go time for that!” I had no choice but to resort to plan B, and that’s where Wix came to the rescue.

Superbowl-activity-featuredTeaming up with DreamWorks to capitalize on Kung Fu Panda celebrity, the Wix campaign goes the extra mile. In addition to four teaser videos and an interactive, online hub for fans to engage with the Kung Fu Panda cast, Wix also sponsored the Super Bowl commercials website, a site that offers a collection of relevant video and editorial content of and about the Big Game commercials. “A great website and great content are the key to any business’s marketing strategy,” is a mantra that good marketers live by and Wix recognizes this. So, out of all the ads and campaigns I’ve seen this year, Wix is my winner. They have reinforced the true meaning of content marketing and showed us how to squeeze every last drop of opportunity from a prime time ad spot – or at least, that’s what I think.

Do you think one of the other brands maxed out on the content marketing opportunity in the Big Game this year? Tell us all about it.