Super Bowl Sunday is a day that can turbo-boost creative directors’ careers and bring new clients to advertising agencies, keeping them flush with cash for years. It is the only live televised event in the world where the TiVo stays off, and people don't run to the bathroom during commercials. It's like the Oscars of the advertising industry.
This year, I went to an enormous Super Bowl party with 60 guests, and I saw this play out first-hand. People grabbed snacks after the commercials were over.
One hundred eight million people tuned in to see the best the NFL and Madison Avenue had to offer. We know the outcome of the game, but who won the commercial battles?
In the aftermath, I’ve heard people talk about how funny it was to see Taco Bell’s senior citizens act like teenagers, how Tide kept us on the edge of our seats trying to figure out what the Joe Montana Miracle Stain spot was about, how some didn’t get Samsung’s spot, how a trainer being reunited with his Budweiser Clydesdale touched everybody's heart, and a host of other well-done, memorable commercials.
But the most overlooked commercial? The "quadfecta" Pizza Hut pulled off. From a marketing perspective, they were the most effective advertiser in this year’s Super Bowl.
First, the best pre-game product integration I’ve seen in years: Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe, a couple of the most recognizable faces in football, walking the street of New Orleans giving away pizza to the best "Hut Hut Huts." It was relevant, it was integrated flawlessly, and it was timed at the moment when people would be calling in their pizza orders.
Second, their TV spot. While arguably it could have been less patchy if they let either their agency or creative fans put it all together, it still had the prerequisites for an effective Super Bowl spot -- humor, kids, an animal, and fan-generated content.
Third, they created suspense for weeks as to what the new Pizza Hut menu item would be, and revealed it to the world during the Super Bowl.
And, finally, they had a killer call-to-action offer: Come try the new pizza sliders for free on Tuesday between 4 and 7 p.m.
Pizza Hut may not have the most talked-about Super Bowl commercial of 2013, but brands should look to emulate their overall marketing strategy and execution at future events.