Build Your Marketing Playbook with Super Bowl Tactics

Each year, the hype surrounding the Super Bowl seems to reach a crescendo well before the actual game. One of the more unusual aspects of the big game is the fact that the ads are watched with almost as much interest as the game itself.

The reason for this phenomenon is simple: The Super Bowl is traditionally the single biggest television event every year. Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television show in history, averaging 111 million viewers. Reaching this kind of audience in a single block of time is nirvana for advertisers.

That’s why advertisers spent almost $230 million on 96 ads at last year’s Super Bowl.

This year, at a price tag of about $3.5 million per 30-second TV ad, only advertisers with the deepest pockets need apply.

Advertisers who spend that kind of money for a Super Bowl ad invest even more on top of it to make sure their ads break through and get noticed. More than that, advertisers want their ads to be talked about. That’s why some of the best television ads (and admittedly, some duds) appear during the Super Bowl.

But for the past several years, the ads on television have been only part of the picture. The real story has been the rapidly growing online component of Super Bowl promotion. For a relatively small incremental cost on top of the ad price, advertisers can buy a lot of before-and-after online support.

Already, some advertisers have begun to leak their Super Bowl ads via social media and other means to build the buzz. Kia is taking a unique media approach: Beginning February 2, the automaker will premiere its 60-second Super Bowl ad on 18,000 movie theater screens throughout the country. A single Super Bowl ad really becomes the center of an integrated media campaign that, if successful, keeps selling long after the Super Bowl has ended.

Coca-Cola’s Online “Polar Bowl Party”

At this year’s Super Bowl on February 5, a number of advertisers are pulling out the stops when it comes to online support. The most elaborate online venture may be from Coca-Cola, who will bring back its lovable animated polar bears in two new ads. The bigger story, though, is the novel use of online media.

According to Stuart Elliott of the New York Times:

“The campaign will be centered on a live video stream throughout Super Bowl XLVI at cokepolarbowl.com—a Web site hosted on Facebook.com—and also will include messages on Twitter. The contents of the video stream will be determined in real time… as bears wearing Patriots red and Giants blue react to the game, the halftime show and the commercials.”

Here’s the way Coke positions the online event on its special Facebook page:

“On Feb. 5, the Polar Bears are throwing their first-ever Coca-Cola Polar Bowl Party. They’ll be watching the game and chatting with friends from kick off unitl the clock runs out. RSVP now to hang out and chat with the Polar Bears during the game. Plus, with each RSVP Coca-Cola will donate $1 to World Wildlife Fund to help polar bears and their Arctic home.”

Bud Light, Chevy, and Bridgestone Get Into the Act

Other advertisers will also leverage online media to the hilt, according to Stuart Elliott.

Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light Platinum will feature a Twitter hashtag, #MakeItPlatinum, and another ad for Bud Light will urge viewers to visit facebook.com/BudLight. General Motors’ Chevrolet brand will offer a free “Chevy Game Time App,” available at both Apple’s App Store and Android Market. The app, which allows users to play games, interact via Twitter, and win prizes during the Super Bowl itself, will be promoted via a Super Bowl ad. Bridgestone Tires will tie its two Super Bowl ads to three online sweepstakes promoted on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Online Marketing Comes to Life

If you are a football fan, feel free to watch the Super Bowl for the game itself. But as an online marketer, keep a close eye on the ads run by some three dozen brands. Look behind the ads and study the fully integrated campaigns these brands will employ to attract attention. Notice what these advertisers do using online media before the game to generate interest, during the game to engage viewers, and after the game to extend the life of their marketing campaign.

Granted, most online marketers could never invest the kind of dollars these giants spend on Super Bowl advertising, but there is much to learn from the manner in which they use online media. You are sure to see some techniques that you can modify and employ in your own marketing. This year’s Super Bowl is where online marketing will come to life.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

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