What marketers can learn from the Super Bowl: Hint, it isn’t what you think

February 01, 2017

What marketers can learn from the Super Bowl: Hint, it isn’t what you think

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For many people, watching the Super Bowl is less about actually watching football and more about the epic commercials. Even avid football fans find themselves talking about the commercials at work on Monday.

But times are changing.

This year you may find yourself actually watching the game and using the commercials as an opportunity to get more wings, instead of the other way around. This potential disruption to the status quo stems from the noticeable absence of some major brands that decided to stay on the sidelines and forego advertising during the biggest football game of the season. Here is a list of some of the companies that opted out of creating the notorious Super Bowl ads:




Burger King





Frito Lay

Taco Bell

These brands, just to name a few, are pulling their Super Bowl advertising this year. There are myriad reasons why a company may not rush into the Herculean task of creating a 30-second commercial that will be seen by about 111.9 million live and possibly millions more online. Cost, for example, could be a deterrent for most companies. At just over $5 million dollars for 3o seconds of air time, and millions more to promote the ad, it is a pretty hefty investment for most companies.

It is also getting harder to justify. As Super Bowl ratings continue to go down, so does potential ROI. If people aren’t watching the game, it ceases to be the “sure bet” it used to be. Evidently, the cost of a 30-second commercial just doesn’t reap the same benefit as it has in years past, and many brands are catching on and jumping ship.

Another reason for diminishing interest in buying Super Bowl ad space is that it just doesn’t coincide with the launch of a new product or service. Case in point, for the second year in a row BMW will not be airing a Super Bowl ad. According to Trudy Hardy, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America, the timing wasn’t right for the brand. Likewise, Toyota has no new launches until spring and summer and so won’t be advertising during the game.

But there’s more to it than that.

Ads for the Super Bowl have always been super expensive and yet many companies have found a favorable ROI in high-quality, entertaining ads. What has changed?

Simple answer: You have.

And this is where marketers need to take note. Your audience dictates (or at least should) how you market to them. If your audience is watching TV and that’s where they find you, then advertise on TV; however, if your audience has gone digital (and they will if they haven’t already) then you go digital.

Instead of producing television commercials, many of these companies are redirecting resources to less traditional marketing methods. GoDaddy, for example, who for years made a name for itself with its controversial Super Bowl commercials featuring Nascar driver Danica Patrick, will eschew traditional TV spots for a digital live-stream commercial.

Whether your company is big or small, take a page from the playbook of GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Phil Beinert:

This online approach is a great example of how we are going about the execution of personalized, data-driven marketing strategy,” Bienert said.  GoDaddy’s marketing strategy has evolved from high-level domestic brand awareness (we currently have 83% aided brand awareness in the U.S.) to a personalized, data-driven approach aimed at a global audience.

Data driven. Personalized. Strategic.

Similarly, brands like BMW and Red Bull are producing their own epic content and are quickly evolving into media companies who also sell cars and energy drinks instead of the opposite. While these same companies are still continuously producing quality television commercials to increase brand recognition and awareness, they are also branching out to create more share-worthy content online because that’s where their audience is.

NFL viewership has gone down from past years while ads are more expensive. More and more people will be live-streaming instead of watching on TV (how strong is your mobile game?). GoDaddy determined that it was better off investing in social media campaigns and partnered with Facebook Sports Stadium. Facebook Live has already surpassed YouTube as the preferred live streaming medium, and Instagram and Twitter have both recently added live capabilities. Online video is not going away.

More and more brands will follow pioneers like GoDaddy, BMW, and Red Bull and reinvest advertising money in online media- imagine high-quality produced weekly programs on Facebook Live- creating a type of social media gold rush. Early adopters (if that term is even still applicable) will see significant growth as they create content that leads to a loyal online audience.

So where do we go from here? What is the future of the Super Bowl? Of the NFL? Of television in general? While a few brands opting out of spending $5 million for a 3o-second ad does not a crisis make, it is indicative of a larger trend. Television is going the way of music, publishing, and movies. In other words, it is on its way out (should not be surprising). People want immediacy and convenience without sacrificing choice. Just look at the enormous growth of streaming services in the last few years. Now those same streaming services are producing more and more of their own content, edging out the middle man.

In summary, the world is changing and your company will have to evolve, like GoDaddy, and look for non-traditional ways to reach your audience. As the traditional advertising channels continue to disappear advertisers will be forced to find new, non-invasive ways to create product awareness. Brands can no longer produce mediocre content as audiences will no longer tolerate it. As social media becomes more prolific, marketers will need to listen/ monitor those channels for real-time data, crisis management, and customer engagement. GoDaddy created a personalized, data-driven marketing strategy because they listened to what their audience was saying.



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