How To Win The Long Game On Super Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is not only the day we crown the NFL champion, but the biggest day in marketing, too. CBS has sold out its inventory that fetched roughly $3.8 million for 30 seconds of airtime. An expensive proposition even before you factor in production cost for the creative. Is it worth it? How can companies get the most bang for their huge investment? put together a great list of what else you can buy for $4 million, including 100 million impressions on Hulu, Twitter’s promoted trending topic every day for a month or a portal roadblock every day for a week. These would get attention and drive measurable ROI for your brand.

When looking at the recent past of Super Bowl commercials, I am reminded of this quote from Sun Tzu’s Art of War – “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”



Over the years we have seen a variety of tactics aimed more at generating buzz and awards than really advancing brands – in other words, noise. For many brands, their Super Bowl efforts have become as predictable as the Patriots coming up short in the playoffs. The commercials are usually some combination of kids/dogs/celebrities/pretty women and dopey men in an attempt to be funny, provocative or cute. Everyone loves the E*Trade baby, but does he really still move the brand forward? And, the Go Daddy/Danica Patrick partnership is stale and tired – and what does it tell me about the value of their service? Both of these campaigns are scheduled to run again this year.

To be successful on Super Sunday, marketers need to view the venue as part of a larger campaign, not a one-off opportunity to be amusing. A recent survey by advertiser Century 21 and reported by Mashable confirms what we’d all expect – “36% say they'll use a second screen to supplement the game-viewing experience. They'll be checking sports news apps on their phone or tablet for breaking, behind-the-scene commentary. And 52% say they'll use social media during the game. They'll be talking about the game and — what else — the commercials.”

The fact that fully half of viewers will be on social media leads to the conclusion that your Super Bowl Ad must be part of a larger, long term digital campaign to truly drive ROI for your brand.

Here are some other ways to get value for your $4 million:

Break some news; tell the audience something new about your company. Mercedes-Benz is announcing the new CLA class – likely to be a lower price point entry-level car.

Have a strong call to action back to a social platform or your web site. Give viewers something to do with all those smartphones, tablets and laptops that will be at the ready. A Paramount Pictures ad for a new Star Trek movie will be tied into a mobile app. 

Wonderful Pistachios is driving viewers to a Facebook contest app where they can upload a picture of how they “Get Crackin’ Gangnam Style” to win a one-year lease to a Merecedes SLK250, the car featured in the Gangnam Style video.

Think in terms of sharable content; make the ads and extensions easily accessible and shareable through Facebook and Twitter. Both will see huge spikes in traffic on Sunday and your brand should be part of the conversation.

The ad and integrated digital campaign should do more than just entertain; they should demonstrate value to the customer and help move them down the decision making process. This could be accomplished by sending them to a site with content and information that takes them deeper into your brand. The idea that “helping is selling” can be extended to your Super Bowl campaign as marketers should be striving to make a long term emotional connection with customers rather than just a fleeting laugh.

2 comments about "How To Win The Long Game On Super Sunday".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, January 29, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.

    Excellent column, and to your first point, if you do make your Super Bowl ad part of the larger campaign (not just by running it more), you get a lot more than those 100 million impressions you cite on Hulu. I'm not a big fan of traditional network TV, but the reach potential offered by a Super Bowl-based approach still can't be surpassed by any other medium. It really is a good buy, even while other network prime is not. But, Gangnam style? Say it ain't so. That's so...September.

  2. Gordon Plutsky from 21 Advisors, January 30, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.

    Jonathan, thanks for the comment and kind words. I agree, if done right as part of an integrated program it can be worth it. The key is driving traffic and providing value for the customer above just an TV ad.

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