It's Not Just Commercials Anymore: The Changing Dynamic of Super Bowl Advertising

For the past 51 years, companies have been spending big bucks to purchase ad spots during the Super Bowl, recognizing the airtime as a major opportunity to reach millions of viewers in one night. In 1966’s Super Bowl I, 30-second commercials were sold for $37,000, a small price to pay for the attention of 25 million viewers.

Over time, as the return on investment became apparent, the price per 30-second ad spot increased steadily, reaching over a million dollars in 1994, over two million in 1999, three million in 2010, and so on. As companies invested more money in commercials, they also increased focus on content that would be played. A successful commercial that led to increased brand awareness and purchases would make the investment worthwhile… having a flop would not.

Companies are Recognizing the Importance of Interactive Campaigns before and during the Super Bowl. 

With ad spots being sold for over $5M and companies pulling out all the stops to captivate audiences, marketing strategies surrounding the Super Bowl have moved past just a 30-second ad. According to the New York Times, companies spent between 25%-100% of the total cost of Super Bowl ads on marketing tied to its promotion for Super Bowl 51, demonstrating the importance of an engaging commercial, backstory, and interactive campaign to drive a message home.

In 2016, Bai Brands, a beverage company based in New Jersey, advertised regionally during the Super Bowl. The positive impact on site visitors, engagement via social media, and over-anticipated purchase totals led to the company advertising nationally for the 2017 Super Bowl. Before game time Justin Timberlake, the company’s celebrity spokesman, released a teaser video on his social media pages (Instagram and Facebook). It was not clear what Bai Brand’s Super Bowl commercial would be, but Timberlake’s teaser release led to increased hype around the brand through discussion on social media.

A hit among viewers, Bai Brands’ engaging 2017 commercial, featuring Timberlake and Christopher Walken, tied in with Timberlake’s pre-Super Bowl teasers. His posts on social media influenced more visitors to click on Bai’s website, creating digital retargeting strategies. Michael Simon, CMO of Bai Brands dubbed this process, “The Super Bowl Afterlife.”

Tide’s commercial featuring Terry Bradshaw, former Football player and current game commentator, combined reality and social media to create an engaging backstory for its commercial. Throughout the Super Bowl’s second quarter, Bradshaw sat in his commentator chair with a stain on his shirt. Paying no attention to the stain generated discussion throughout social media: did he realize he had a stain? How could no one have mentioned this to him? Cut to Tide’s commercial during half time and we see a frazzled Bradshaw driving across the field, attempting to find a way to clean his stained shirt. Featuring Jeffrey Tambor and a deluxe washing machine, it was made clear to viewers that the controversial stain was a part of Tide’s campaign. The cleverness of the ad spot, the discussion on social media, and the connection between real life and the commercial, positioned Tide’s campaign as one of the most talked about during the game and in the Super Bowl Afterlife.

It's Not Just 30 Seconds: The Super Bowl Afterlife.

Social media engagement is the number one driver of website referral traffic and every company that advertised during the Super Bowl shared their commercial across their social media channels. Toyota-owned Lexus, for example, shared their commercial, “Experience Amazing,” through purchased ad spots on Twitter. Its message: “Lexus: #ExperienceAmazing all over again with our big game spot here.” was repeated throughout the online-sphere, to retarget those who had seen the commercial and promote the new Lexus LC and Lexus L9 to those who did not.

79% of marketers agree that email marketing actively generates ROI. Airbnb, after airing its 30 second commercial, “We Accept,” used email marketing to drive its message home to consumers. Two days after the Super Bowl, emails were sent out to its ecommerce list with the subject, “Acceptance starts with all of us.” Clips from the commercial were included in the body of the email along with a call to action button to encourage users to “Learn more.”

Super Bowl commercials are a staple of the Super Bowl tradition, and companies aim to drive home their message through other online ad buys as well. Interested? The team at MNI Targeted Media Inc. is ready to discuss more digital options to make sure your message is being delivered across all screens, and not only during the Super Bowl.