February 7, 2012

Winning big without a Super Bowl budget

What can pro-social marketers learn from Super Bowl ads?  Not much on first glance.  Most of us engaged in pro-social marketing can only dream of having enough in the ad spend budget to be a Super Bowl advertiser.

But not so fast.  We can all score some learning from the Super Bowl ads; namely, whether you’re releasing a PSA or a multimillion-dollar campaign, the takeaway from this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads is that it’s all about buzz.

Almost half of this year’s Super Bowl spots appeared on the internet up to a few weeks in advance of the big game, up from just a few last year. [1]  Volkswagen, which had one of last year’s most well-received commercials, premiered this year’s spot online on January 18th, a full 17 days in advance of its on-air premiere.  This generated over 11 million views on YouTube in advance of the game.  Advertisers that waited until the Super Bowl to surprise their audience and make a big splash were themselves surprised when their Super Bowl spot failed to make the same impact as their counterparts who released their spots early.

Insurance company MetLife is using social media to maintain their buzz.  They have incorporated the famous cartoon characters used in their Super Bowl commercial into their Facebook brand page, inviting viewers to meet the cast and asking them how many times they spotted Waldo in the commercial.

Marketers must not discount that traditional and social media play complementary roles, and marketers that take advantage of this will have a higher-impact campaign.  Indeed, the Advertising Research Federation’s (ARF) report on Super Bowl advertising found that, pre-game, “[c]ompanies that … engaged the media with announcements, commentary, advertising creatives, and controversies increased their coverage after the game.”[2]

The ubiquity of the internet has made it possible for marketers without big budgets and those with Super-sized budgets to create a buzz and engage with their audience.  Marketers should look for creative ways to mix traditional and social media to win big with their campaign.


[1] Elliot, Stuart. “Before the Toss, Super Bowl Ads.” The New York Times. 2 Feb. 2012; Web. 3 Feb. 2012.

[2] Pak, Mi. “Research on Super Bowl Advertising Effectiveness.” Warc, 2 Feb. 2012. Web.

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