The Super Bowl isn’t just a huge football game. It is perhaps one of the most influential advertising platforms out there. Millions from diverse backgrounds huddled around screens, not just for the game, but also for the legendary commercials.
It is well-known that Super Bowl ads cost a small fortune. This year, CBS is charging upwards of $7 million for a 30-second slot during Super Bowl LVIII. For most brands, advertising in the super bowl is not an option due to budgetary constraints.
Now picture your company slipping through the crowd of giants buying airtime, to capitalize on the attention of this large audience, without spending millions. Impossible? Certainly not. It simply requires an ultra-strategic mindset and the ability to react quickly.
Despite the high cost and intense competition for premium ad space, organizations with smaller budgets can still compete from a brand awareness play. From industries such as healthcare, higher education, financial services, and specialty manufacturing, advertisers with a smaller budget and a well-executed strategy can drive significant impact leading up to, during, and after the Super Bowl. The following are seven tactics from a paid media standpoint that can help your brand take advantage of the national stage in a realistic way.
1. Plan Ahead & Gain Buy-in From Stakeholders
While it may be too late to launch an impactful advertising campaign (unless you create the next big thing in Super Bowl advertising), successfully navigating the Super Bowl ad landscape requires advance planning. Start the conversation early with your media agency or senior leadership team. It’s important to have a realistic expectation about your budgetary limits and the level of effort your organization can commit. By securing leadership buy-in and establishing reliable relationships with media representatives well ahead of time, you eliminate last-minute rushes, which allows more strategic, effective campaigns. Your TV, radio, or endemic digital site/network/publisher sales reps are a treasure trove of anecdotal industry knowledge that doesn’t find its way into research data sources. Those you are friendly with may also give you a first look at new inventory or packages that have yet to be secured or even marketed to others. Befriend your reps.
2. Spread Your Efforts Across Digital Frontiers
Embrace the ultimate democratization of advertising—technology. Utilize various platforms, like mobile banners, social media, streaming TV, and streaming audio. While traditional Super Bowl TV ads (in-game, adjacent, early broadcast, etc.) might be effective, the shift towards digital-driven content—platforms like Meta, TikTok, and X (Twitter)—can offer exciting alternatives. Creating a well-crafted social media campaign can deliver impressive results without the steep TV spot bill.
3. Utilize Second-Screen Advertising
Capitalizing on second-screen experiences—such as spectators checking their phones while watching the Super Bowl—can boost your in-game relevance. Connect with audiences on their smartphones, tablets, or computers. Engage them on platforms like Meta and X, where they might be commenting on gameplay, the halftime show, or those spectacular TV ads. This activity requires flexibility and being quick on your feet to react to a trend or meme that could come out of a commercial or moment in the game.
4. Capitalize on Low-Cost Opportunities
Explore economic opportunities like securing spots adjacent to the Super Bowl during pre-game or post-game periods for reduced spend. Additionally, you can leverage the power of organic social posts and content marketing to enhance your brand visibility without the high cost. Having a thoughtfully planned matrix for organic social messages and posts in advance ensures more timely and relevant engagement before, during, and after the game. Watch for trending topics or hashtags that could amplify your posts. As marketers, it is important to stay vigilant about the advertising and events surrounding the Super Bowl. Being prepared to react with well-timed posts to key plays or other advertisements can be instrumental. We can learn from Oreo during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout leaning into the millions of comments on X with a straightforward static image ad on the platform.
5. Engage in Digital Advertising Post-Game
Consider a post-game advertising strategy to make an impact on your brand. Use digital advertising, such as static and video creatives, or infuse game results into fresh creatives for continued relevance and interest. Social media is a powerful tool for amplifying your Super Bowl campaign. Use it to share behind-the-scenes content, engage with fans and influencers, and drive traffic back to your website.
6. Harness the Power of Data to Inform Future Changes
Track vital metrics such as reach, frequency, web traffic sources, and engagement rates. Understanding data from these metrics can provide a more nuanced understanding of your audience and the effectiveness of your campaign. Use the data you collect to optimize your campaign. Adjust your targeting, creativity, and messaging based on what’s working best for you. Measure the success of your campaign by comparing it to your goals and objectives. If you’ve met or exceeded them, then congratulations! If not, learn from this experience and apply those lessons to future campaigns.
7. Tap into Loyal Customer-bases
Smaller advertisers wield a powerful weapon – a more dedicated, loyal customer base. These are the individuals who appreciate the authenticity of your brand, extending beyond the glitz and glamour of Super Bowl commercials. Leverage the power of this existing loyalty by involving your customers in the narrative. Consider exclusive promotions or sneak peeks that make them feel like insiders. By tapping into this dedicated audience, you not only strengthen your brand's presence but also potentially turn customers into advocates, amplifying your reach through word-of-mouth and genuine endorsements. In Super Bowl advertising, the connection with your loyal customer base can be the secret that sets your brand apart.
Super Bowl advertising isn't a turf confined to the grown-ups in the room. With creativity, strategic planning, leveraging digital platforms, and capitalizing on existing audience connections, smaller advertisers can not only compete but thrive in the expansive landscape of Super Bowl advertising. In the evolving landscape of paid media and marketing, it's not just about the size of the budget but the ingenuity behind the execution.