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3 Super-Sized Strategies for Football’s Biggest Weekend

Are you ready for some football?

Super Bowl LI is scheduled for this weekend, featuring a highly anticipated matchup between two of the league’s best offenses in Tom Brady’s New England Patriots and Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons. While interest will certainly peak in the Northeast and Southeast United States, the big game promises to draw an enormous audience across the rest of the country, and the world, as well. In fact, according to Nielsen, last year 111.9 million viewers tuned in, perhaps equally interested in watching advertisements as in watching football.

Over the years, the game has transcended sports, representing a cultural phenomenon and an unofficial holiday where consumers gather together to eat greasy food, drink beer, and rank the advertising efforts of their favorite brands. For fans, this weekend is a standalone event, another social gathering on an otherwise full calendar. For brands, however, the game is the culmination of months of hard work, planning, and collaboration. Iconic advertisers such as Budweiser, Doritos, and Chrysler have built anticipation for their Super Bowl activations over an extended period of success, while others weave in and out each year attempting to make a splash with Super Bowl audiences.

For all brands, the Super Bowl marks an annual lens into consumer interests and trends. Whether your brand is planning a specific activation for the game, you are likely tuning in to see how others address technological and societal shifts with their audiences. Recently, there have been seismic changes to broader advertising that have dramatically impacted the ways in which brands engage with their consumers. This year, there are three distinct strategies we believe will help brands get more from their Super Bowl activations:

Catering to a Global Audience

While the Super Bowl is an inherently American event, recently the NFL has taken big steps towards globalizing interest. Over the past three seasons, 9 games have been played in London, and the league announced that four more games will be played there next season. Additionally, in 2016 the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans faced off in Mexico, and the Raiders are returning there next season to play the Patriots. Certainly, advertisements have always retained interest overseas, but as the game itself gains greater adoption in a global market, the impact of associated advertising is sure to grow accordingly.

Catering to a Connected Audience

As mobile technology has proliferated, there has been an associated fear with television advertisers that audiences will be too distracted to retain messaging. While consumer attention spans have dwindled, the shift in behavior has actually become an opportunity for smart brands to engage customers across multiple channels at once. And here’s the good news, during the Super Bowl, consumers are very engaged. In fact, according to Adobe Digital Insights: 

78% of fans will be busy on social platforms while the game is on

What are they sharing? The top online activity is sharing thoughts about commercials followed by reactions to the game (38% to 32%, respectively). Additionally, due to an increase in consumer touch points, brands that don’t have budget necessary to pay for television spots can still take advantage of the event with digital efforts. As an example, a couple of years ago Volvo launched a campaign on Twitter called “The Greatest Interception Ever” using the hashtag #VolvoContest, which asked fans to enter a friend to win a VolvoXC60, when rival automakers’ commercials were airing. The campaign generated 55,000 tweets, 114,000 mentions, and according to Volvo, yielded a 70.7 percent year-over-year increase in XC60 sales in February 2015.

Creating More Immersive Experiences for Consumers

This leads us to the final strategy, which is creating better experiences for consumers. Often times, this can include tapping customers to help co-create content that can support both Super Bowl and post-event campaigns. Due to the inordinate level of interest, attention, and passion held by consumers leading up to and during the event, smart brands that align themselves with the Super Bowl organically can drum up the same kind of consumer-generated content. For instance, consumers turn to one another for inspiration on how to celebrate. According once again to ADI, party hosts look to Pinterest (68%) and Facebook (26%) for decorating ideas and recipes to support the event. We wrote last year about the decade-long consumer-driven activation by Doritos, where the brand asked consumers to #CrashTheSuperBowl and compete in a commercial production contest where the winner would be used during the game. Additionally, the use of emerging technology will help craft more immersive experiences that will make the consumer a bigger part of campaigns. Hyundai, for example, plans to create a 90-second ad during the game and air it directly afterwards, filming at a military base where soldiers will watch the game in a high-tech, enclosed pod. Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, in its 13th year, is being sponsored by Pedigree, and will feature a virtual reality, “pup’s-eye view” of a dog named Buttons. Newscred has a great write-up on these and other notable activations.

Whether your brand is actively participating during the big game, or will be watching closely to see what works, and what doesn’t, we’re hoping for an exciting matchup with stellar advertisements. Enjoy the game!

[Author’s Note: Go Pats!]

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