super bowl advertising

Super Bowl ads have long rivaled the Big Game. Thanks to social media, the ads now spread far beyond the game itself.

The actual Super Bowl media time is an increasingly smaller part of the campaign. Many brands release their ads (or at least a teaser) in advance. YouTube recently shared that ads that ran online before the Super Bowl generated 9 million views compared to 1.3 million for those that waited (600% more views).

Others are weaving in crowdsourcing in advance of the game, like the Axe Space Camp campaign that is giving 22 consumers a chance to fly into space.

Some brands are deciding even to forego much of the paid media (priced at $4 million for a 30-second spot). Last year, Old Milwaukee ran a Super Bowl ad starring Will Ferrell in only one market: North Platte, Nebraska. But the ad obviously spread far, far further. This year, Old Spice is running a Super Bowl ad exclusively in Juno, Alaska.

My favorite story so far this year is the challenger brand case of Sodastream, whose original ad was banned by CBS for taking aim at sponsors Coke and Pepsi (banned ad here). Creating an ad controversial enough to be banned is sometimes the best way to spark a conversation.

Most marketers will never play on the Super Bowl field, but there are lessons here for all of us. We don’t need the Big Game to create marketing campaigns that are worth watching. We should always aim to create marketing engaging enough to warrant a teaser.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)

Here are a few other Super Bowl cartoons from 2003, 2007, and 2012.

  1. Tom Smith says

    Google/YouTube > NFL

    The democratization of media and advertising.

    If it’s good enough, interesting enough, relevant enough it will be seen.

  2. Rod McLeod says

    Lots of out of the box thinking coupled with creativity equals the best Super Bowl ads in recent memory. Now I’m going to eat Doritos for lunch, buy a Mercedes or a VW and throw away my iPhone.

  3. Michael Boamah says

    I condemn pre-releases for Superbowl commercial, teasers are OK for movies or TV shows because you need an audience but it’s a firm NO for an ad where viewers are guaranteed

  4. Gabriele 'Gaby' Woodall says

    …at the risk of being painfully corny: Social Media leveled the playing field and made marketing a whole new ball game – viva los medios sociales!

  5. Tom Denford ID Comms says

    Hi Tom

    I’m in the UK, and SuperBowl as you know is a global event and many of us over here watched it live. You may also know that the UK is one of a small number of countries in the world who have a mainstream TV channel (the BBC) which contains no advertising breaks at all.

    This year the BBC had the live rights to show the SuperBowl, which made for a strange experience: a SuperBowl with no ad breaks. Yes that’s right. Crazy huh?

    This was especially weird watching it as a marketer who has worked in the US and is married to an American and therefore so familiar with the SuperBowl also being the world’s greatest TV advertising day.

    Yesterday I got the chance to watch the SuperBowl without a single ad break in it, like I was somehow cheating the experience.

    And you know what, it’s pretty cool without the ads. Its fun to see what actually happens between downs and during the breaks and hearing all the extra commentary (hours of it) that you normally miss because of goofy ads for chips, cars and insurance.

    What I got to see was just a sports game, a big one, with all the razzle-dazzle, but without the ads. It was a privileged rare glimpse into a sports world without marketing. And (whisper it softly) it was MUCH better….

  6. Glenn says

    Most of the people touting the so called winners of the Super Bowl Ads seem to be focusing on metrics around eyeballs, RT’s, etc. To me, the only winners are those that change behavior in that they either cause someone to buy something or strengthen loyalty. I loved the Dodge “Farmer” commercial. But I don’t buy Dodges nor do I drive Pick ups. I eat M&M’s but I’m not going to eat more or less because of their commercial. Before anyone is declared a “winner, let’s see the sales or customer loyalty figures.

  7. Bill Carlson says

    Every year is a little different but I would say that in this particular case, the actual commercials didn’t live up to the hype — every once in a while (this year is a case in point), the game is actually more interesting! :)

    At this point, the pre-show hype and post-show reviews are actually of more value to advertisers than the 30-60 seconds of actual airtime. Even if consumers don’t like an ad, the brand is getting pushed and at least for the 2-minute attention spans we have all developed, impressions delivered!

  8. Jon Lehre says

    This year, not having cable, I decided to stream the game via the CBS website. I was VERY disappointed in the ads since they did not show many of the big name ones on streaming – at least not to my neck of the woods. I must have seen the mediocre Blackberry commercial and the truly awful Toyota Avalon commercial ten times each at least. Even then, there was little thought going into engaging a streaming audience. After all, if I am actively watching on my computer, I could go right then to their website, if so intrigued. Talk about an opportunity wasted! The only commercial I saw that even attempted to engage a social audience was the silly Coke commercial which interested no one in my family. Maybe next year, the media will treat streaming with a legitimate focus for ads instead of the afterthought it appeared to be this year. (I did view most of the other ads on YouTube and have to agree with Bill on the lack of anything big this year. Some funny stuff, yes, but nothing anyone at work is talking about.)

  9. says

    Hi all,

    Great perspective, thanks! I posted this before the Super Bowl (and ads) actually aired, so I’d only seen the teasers and pre-releases. I have to agree that it was mostly mediocre this year. This week’s print goes to Glenn. I really agree with your point to look beyond the retweets and eyeballs to actual sales results. That would be an interesting analysis — looking at the actual impact of Superbowl ads each year.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *