More than a half-time Super Bowl show – why brands need to score an advertising touchdown on Sunday

Why brands need to score an advertising touch-down on Sunday

This weekend, advertisers will compete for cut-through during the brand madness that it is, Super Bowl.

Just being able to afford 30 seconds of airtime during the ad breaks of America’s most watched television spectacle is however, no longer enough. Brands need a long-term content strategy to ensure an advertising touch-down.

Sunday’s Super Bowl will see 15 new advertisers compete for cut-through.

With a 30-second Super Bowl ad costing $4.5m, these newcomers will either need to have a phenomenally creative idea or so much marketing budget that they don’t know what else to spend it on.

America’s Super Bowl is where brands lose their heads over advertising, and for what?

After the dust has settled, how many Super Bowl ads really, truly stand the test-of-time and go down in advertising history?

According to the YouGov BrandIndex, last year’s Super Bowl advertisers enjoyed a ‘lift in positive buzz’ of no longer than two weeks. That’s a huge cash outlay for 14-days of positive buzz.

As I rack my brain to remember Super Bowl ads from the past few years, the one that immediately springs to mind is Oreo.

They took advantage of a 34-minute power-cut during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 and placed a visual piece of content on Twitter saying 'Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark'.

The tweet was retweeted more than 16,000 times and is arguably the most memorable ad in recent times.

The fact is however, Oreo wasn’t even an official Super Bowl advertiser. This was a piece of guerrilla marketing that was so effective because it was clever and responded to real events in real-time.

But it didn’t just happen by chance. The brand had been executing a social media content strategy every day for the past 18 months. So when the lights went out at the New Orleans Super Dome during the Ravens versus 49ers game, Oreo already had the resources and creative team in place to respond.

Effective content marketing is a long-tail plan. Super Bowl brands such as Pepsi and Doritos engage with their audiences throughout the season and use the Super Bowl half-time as an advertising finale.

In the case of PepsiCo, this year they’ve been producing online video content starring NFL players as that’s where they perceived their audience to be during the early part of the football season - online, researching players and statistics.

Doritos meanwhile has, for the past six years, outsourced its Super Bowl presence to its consumers for a chance to win a $1m prize.

They regularly receive over 6,000 video entries so the process of reviewing all that content and managing the competition begins almost as soon as the final whistle is blown on the last Super Bowl.

In 2014, H&M’s Super Bowl half-time ad allowed viewers with a Samsung Smart TV to order David Beckham’s Bodywear products with their remote control. Whilst, Bank of America enabled a free download on iTunes of U2’s new single ‘Invisible’ during the game and for the following 24 hours.

Do we remember wanting to buy David Beckham pants or downloading a U2 track this time last year?

Probably not, but are we excited to see which Doritos commercial has won this year’s crowdsourcing competition and how Pepsi intends to culminate its season-long digital campaign? You bet we are.

The point is, that the Super Bowl half-time moment of competitive brand madness is no longer enough. For brands to really achieve cut-through, they need to have a content strategy in place that lasts the whole year.

Effective content needs multiple layers, which has to be tested online, and across social channels in order to drive deeper consumer engagement.

Many brands use the Super Bowl to do this as a one-off but it’s those brands who have been testing content, building audience and taking consumers on a journey throughout the season that truly succeed when the Super Bowl spectacle rolls into town.

Clare Broadbent is CEO of Cedar

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.

Come on in, it’s free.

This isn’t a paywall. It’s a freewall. We don’t want to get in the way of what you came here for, so this will only take a few seconds.