The Game Has Changed

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Jeff Barrett
Jeff Barrett



When it comes to Super Bowl commercials, some may get distracted by the new price of a 30-second spot. That's not the story. The price is always going to rise, and $3.5 million is money well spent — if done properly. Others may conclude that irreverent humor is the best play. That is not necessarily true. Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" spot was the best thing I had seen since Field Of Dreams. Full disclosure — I'm from Michigan. Others may think that with all the previews posted, they have already seen it all. Not even close. It is true that some advertisers show the whole commercial before, but the smart campaigns show you just enough to pique your interest or leave you wondering.

What this new landscape is showing is that the model is changing. Super Bowl success is not won or lost on Sunday. It is achieved in the week preceding and the week following the game.

Before the Super Bowl:

More and more attention is being placed on how to engage an audience with social media. Engagement is the first step. A lot of companies, like Go Daddy, Coca-Cola, and E*Trade, are using recognizable franchise images this year. Other advertisers are using recognizable pop culture references like Ferris Bueller (Honda) and vampires (Audi). Either way, these companies know that with recognition comes response.

The soft launch of the commercial has become just as important as when it actually airs on Super Bowl Sunday. It is this initial attention that creates engagement. Engagement leads to discussion. Discussion leads to conventional media coverage. Conventional media coverage leads to more views, impressions and distribution of the campaign. The soft launch circumvents a media buy. If done correctly, it will lead to the equivalent of millions of dollars of exposure.

Think of the Super Bowl spot as an entrance fee to the club. From there, the week preceding becomes an opportunity to generate free attention and double, or even triple your exposure.

During the Super Bowl:

Use a hashtag. People like to tweet during large events, especially when it comes to sports. I would not be hesitant to post the hashtag in the bottom left corner during the duration of the commercial. Granted, it depends on the mood of the piece. Generally speaking, this longer duration will lead to more tweets, more engagement and more discussion about the commercial after the Super Bowl.

Note: Do NOT use a QR code. No one is pausing their screen to scan it with their phone. It's a live event with a large group. The same goes for Shazam. In this case, people will be too busy to take that extra step.

After the Super Bowl:

This is where the news, critics and the public decide which commercials they liked the best. This is partly contingent on the content, but equally contingent on what was discussed the most and what created the greatest buzz in social media. If you have the crowd, you have the media. It is possible to create just as much value, from a media buy perspective, after the Super Bowl as it is during the event.

To be a successful Super Bowl advertiser, it takes planning. It takes social media engagement that yields conventional media coverage. It takes generating an action during the game. It's not complicated, but there is more to consider than ever before.

Advertising moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.


Screenshot: Honda 2012 Superbowl Commercial

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