It’s not all about the ad: the top Super Bowl marketing campaigns

While that coveted 30-second spot during the Super Bowl will be the most expensive ad a brand ever runs, those ads are getting a lot more impressions than just the 115 million viewers who tune in for the big game. Many brands release teasers — if not their full ads — in the days and weeks before the big game to get the buzz going. The morning of the Super Bowl, my favorite ad (more details below) already had over 30 million views on YouTube. Just as House Party campaigns empower advocates to share products with their friends, pre-releasing advertisements can create ambassadors for those high priced :30 spots: those who’ve already seen a great ad will want to share it and make sure the group they’re watching the game with pays attention when it airs. I know I was waiting patiently for my favorite until they finally played it in the fourth quarter. Others at my party behaved similarly, announcing, “Hey, I saw this one already — I love it!” and we’d all watched attentively.

As we mentioned in an earlier post, an effective Super Bowl ad is just one component of a diverse marketing mix. In fact, it’s been reported that most Super Bowl ads don’t drive significant sales. They do increase awareness, though, and can establish a lasting emotional connection between a consumer and a brand; my favorite ad of the year, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love,” really has nothing to do with the product itself, instead highlighting the emotional connection between two best buds.

Here are a few of the standout ads that ran this past Sunday, all of which work as part of the larger overall marketing mix to amplify their messages:

  • SodaStream® teamed up not only with Scarlet Johansson but with House Party as well, giving 1,000 advocates the power to show their Super Bowl party guests the home soda maker in action through the SodaStream Fizz and Football House Party campaign.

 

  • Doritos ran a "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, which gave amateur filmmakers a chance to have their ad run during the game. Submissions opened back in October, and various media outlets covered the exciting selection process along the way. (Talk about making those 30 seconds really last!) The top two ads — including the winner, “Time Machine” — ran during the game.

 

  • M&M's' 30-second Super Bowl ad was supported by a partnership with sports-radio station WFAN to drive traffic and sales in the M&M's World store in Times Square, where fans could watch live broadcasts of the station's shows.

 

Last but not least, we have to mention PUPPY BOWL X if we’re talking about great integrated campaigns. To increase tune-in and provide value for their on-air sponsors, Animal Planet threw thousands of House Parties in the homes of fans around the country, as well as creating an in-person experience on Super Bowl Boulevard in NYC. They also drove user engagement by featuring fan-tweeted photos on the air, with avian sideline reporter @MeepTheBird live-tweeting the whole event. The two-hour Puppy Bowl (repeated 6 times on Super Bowl Sunday) proved a powerful tool for advertisers; with over 13.5 million viewers — an 8% increase over last year — it was the #1 cable show on Super Bowl Sunday.

All of these brands have realized that the $4-$12 million spend on a Super Bowl ad alone isn’t enough to truly connect with today’s consumers; memorable branded experiences are  crucial to igniting advocacy, ensuring loyalty and driving sales.