No disrespect to the uber-talented Mr. Bruno Mars, but this past week's announcement that he will be headlining the halftime entertainment for the upcoming Super Bowl in NJ/NY took many by surprise. No Jay Z? Alicia Keys? Bon Jovi? A Sinatra hologram? Perhaps a sequel from the Boss or another native star? Besides having no real ties to the geography (which no doubt will be a big part of the game), one has to wonder if the “Joe Six Pack” NFL fan will have any real interest in the pop star's performance.
So while the kids will be watching, a significant opportunity to captivate the disinterested audience is available to brands for the taking. Now, I know the “Lingerie Bowl” and other “dude-heavy” counter programming has been going on for years. I'm talking about smartly executed brand activation that can grab a huge piece of the pie during the 60-minute interlude. There will be 110 million+ viewers watching the game and many of them will be holding an empty bowl of chili at halftime as Bruno hits the stage.
But identifying this high profile window to make noise was the easy part - the next step is to develop something compelling enough to seize the void. Oreo’s timely reaction to last year’s blackout is a prime example of how social media lends itself to this kind of venture. Perhaps an extensive Twitter-driven social media takeover promoting a “flash” sweepstakes could be a framework to explore (i.e., tweet X for a chance to win Y). I’m sure brands would entertain giving away big money, or an impressive value proposition, in exchange for multiples of that sum in PR exposure. It would be interesting to see how much noise could be generated while tracking how the word spreads within the 60-minute window and beyond.
Another option would be to launch a viral stunt in which your brand broadcasts a competing musical act online during the halftime show – a performance that might be more appealing to the general NFL audience. This particular strategy could prove to be guerrilla marketing gold, especially for non-NFL sponsors looking to scoop their rivals. For instance, let’s throw out Pepsi (halftime sponsor) competitor Dr. Pepper, who could sign up some high profile music acts to take their 10-calorie “Mountain Man” campaign positioning out for a high-profile, testosterone-driven musical spin. The second screen could be become the separate screen for halftime.
More than ever, digital platforms provide brands the opportunity to identify potential moments to take a shot at capitalizing in an unconventional way. And with the ability of social media to get the word out and keep the conversation going after the final whistle, the upside could definitely be worth the risk. It’s well documented that even the biggest, most conservative blue chip brands allocate 10-15% of their budget each year for a little “experimenting.” What better time to gamble than the Super Bowl in NJ/NY?