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Smart brands are dropping the Super Bowl big spots and playing competitors at their own game

In the lead up to Super Bowl, Volvo has hatched a dastardly plan.

In a socially-driven alternative to the predictable Big Game spot, they've dropped 'Interception': A Volvo giveaway that people can enter ONLY during competitors' car commercials.

​Their purported rationale behind 'Interception' is as follows: People are at the heart of all things Volvo, and nothing puts people more at the heart of a stunt than offering them the chance to win a car for a friend.

True this may be, but perhaps the more honest explanation is this: They want to cunningly hijack Super Bowl fans' attention, playing the distraction card during competitor car brands' expensively produced, expensively placed Big Game ads.

This is smart. A wily, old fox of a move I reckon. And one that puts Volvo in a minority of brands showing sophistication in a mostly bloated, hyperbolic, Super Bowl advertising frenzy.

The idea of using a simple, inherently social mechanic that flies in the face of the main advertising circus is a sound one, from a brand that maintains a conversation all the year round.

A far cry from those that use the event as a costly, once-a-year, grab-the-headlines-at-all-costs kind of way.

Volvo has good company; Newcastle Brown Ale is also playing smart, and with the help of Droga5 has joined those that point the finger and laugh at this annual advertising circus.

In true 'Newkie Brown' style, they're subverting it up with two ads: The first jumps on a competition run by FMCG peer Doritos by creating campaign that hijacks the crisp maker's short film competition for it's own ends.

Even stronger, it's created an ad that brilliantly mocks the entire Super Bowl ad phenomenon by convincing 37 other brands to share a spot resulting in a crowdsourced, cacophonous brand mash up.

Smart, and witty, with a backdrop of NPD-suffering celebrities (sorry Kim) and soppy, puppy-themed efforts, this work feels refreshing to say the least.

Earlier this week the chief executive of Deep Focus, Ian Schafer, described Super Bowl ads as an 'irrelevance tax', claiming Big Game Spots are the price brands pay for 364 days of irrelevance.

He also suggests that the stories some brands tell in these multimillion dollar slots are so over the top and removed from the product they advertise, that they lose any value to the people they're trying to appeal to.

For brands to be relevant, they need to do more than stick their TV ad on Youtube, give it a hash tag and get some numbers.

They need to develop a point of view over time, build a purpose that resonates on multiple screens and channels throughout the whole year.

In their own unique ways both Volvo and Newkie Brown do this, with their mischief making during the Super Bowl a display of confidence in their ability.

Will theses two wily foxes prevail in the big game on Sunday? I hope so.

Will Pyne, co-founder and global executive creative director, Holler