Advertisers may have each paid $4 million to run Super Bowl commercials, but some ads resonated more strongly than others, including SodaStream and Budweiser, according to analytics agency Kontera.
And some brands, like Skittles, found ways to get outsized recognition without plunking down $4 million for an in-game spot.
The key difference is whether the brand engaged in pre-hype that combined paid media with social media support, says Ammiel Kamon, EVP product and marketing, Kontera. "Brands that approached it with an integrated approach rather than looking at it as a single commercial had ads that resonated more strongly,” Kamon said.
Budweiser, for instance, released its multifaceted campaign 10 days before the Super Bowl with content that included puppies, horses, soldiers and the #UpForWhatever hashtag featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Don Cheadle. This effort ultimately increased the brand's awareness 366% throughout much of January, according to Kontera.
Another key strategy is to encourage buzz, both good and bad, through various means. SodaStream garnered widespread attention after its initial ad was rejected for mentioning competitor brands Coke and Pepsi. Pregame buzz helps reinforce brand impression with consumers, said Kamon. The more they see an ad, “the more likely they are to remember it.”
Kamon also said that viewers might hear about an ad before the game, but only see it for the first time during the telecast and therefore pay more attention. “Again, you get additional resonance," he said. SodaStream achieved a brand awareness lift of 368% during the pre-game hype.
Cheerios and Coca-Cola attracted social-media attention by featuring multicultural families, and both attracted positive and negative chatter. "It's about creating a moment," said Kamon. "With Cheerios and Coke, you got both ends of the spectrum. Those that say 'way to go,' and those that are unhappy.”
Conversely, Skittles engaged in stealth Super Bowl advertising. Without purchasing traditional ad time, the candy brand benefited from an association with player Marshawn Lynch and with fans throwing Skittles on the field. Kontera reports that Skittles was the fifth-most-popular food and beverage brand associated with the big game, despite not being an official advertiser.
Still, one challenge for Super Bowl advertisers is pre-planning. Most of the brands that win among Super Bowl viewers are beneficiaries of luck and opportunities. "It is lightning in the bottle, where you have to be at the right place at the right time," says Kamon. Yet there are a few strategies that seem to work year after year. "It helps to be scrappy and have a hands-on approach."
It may be impossible to predict pop-culture moments, but teams can be waiting to respond if and when they do. At the very least, consistency sells. "Multi-year franchises always seem to do well, since there is this anticipation factor. When the Bud Bowl was fresh, people really cared about what was going to happen.”