Beyond Entertainment To Engagement: Creating Successful Super Bowl Ads

Two major battles will be taking place once again on Feb. 12 in front of 150 million fans. In addition to Philadelphia and Kansas City competing for the Lombardi trophy, the bigger story will likely be the 70 ads duking it out for Monday morning ad meter glory and more importantly, ROI.

To that end, an estimated $1billion collectively will be invested into these ads, considering the $7 million Fox media buy and, in some cases, $15 million cumulative expenses for each campaign (integrated marketing costs, production, celebrity talent, since big names will be featured in an estimated 70% of ads).

The operative word here is “campaign,” in that for the most part, Super Bowl commercials have largely been about borrowed equity vanity metrics. Despite the massive consumer reach, research from Bottom-Line Analytics indicates that only 60% of the audience is reasonably engaged in the broadcast, and that one-third of those who viewed the ads could not identify the brand being advertised or its core message!



For brands to embrace the entirety of the funnel given this astronomic investment, it is imperative that they effectively generate demand, not just impressions. Yes, brands need to entertain (it’s the Super Bowl, after all), but they also must engage. This is the era of conversion marketing.

Below are four campaigns  I believe will break through the clutter due to both a connected and creative commerce approach, underpinned by the following four game-changing principles. 

Staying true to a brand story. The first step is to know your own brand story before selecting a celebrity brand ambassador and overarching creative campaign. A great example of this is the “Kick of Destiny” campaign, with FanDuel staying 100% on-brand by partnering with Rob Gronkowski, who will attempt a field goal on live TV during the Big Game, while allowing consumers to bet on the outcome.

Creating a “game within the game.” This is a strategy that helps appeal to Gen Z-ers. The best sponsors become storytellers, promoting in a gamified way at every point (including second screens) across fans’ unique pre and post-game journeys. A brand exemplifying this is Molson, given their collaboration with DraftKings, encouraging consumers to create or use an existing account where they will be asked a dozen multiple choice questions about the 30-second ad for a chance to win a share of the $500,000 cash prize.

Building interactions and transactions. Rewarding experiences with a dedicated call-to-action drives behavior both short and long term. Avocados from Mexico is doing just that by creating an integrated campaign featuring Deon Sanders on the packaging, and an in-ad QR code that will connect viewers to a landing page with an integrated AI tool.

Activating all channels and moments.  Creating deeper experiences that connect to commerce means thinking longer-term and beyond the broadcast. Build out month-long campaigns that include social (e.g, TikTok) and ecommerce as part of a frictionless, convenient, and shoppable marketing mix. A great case this year is Michelob’s series of “Caddyshack”-inspired ads, all ending with a QR code to stock up using Instacart for the big game.

Overall, this year’s Super Bowl ad competition will prove that brand awareness and ROI don't have to be mutually exclusive if a connected and creative commerce strategy is employed before and during the Big Game.

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