Hacking the Super Bowl: Brands Bypass Commercial Breaks to Creatively Attract Attention

1280px-Super_Bowl_XLIII_-_Thunderbirds_Flyover_-_Feb_1_2009Ad prices soar as conventional wisdom is replaced with outside-the-box campaigns.

Marketing has grown far beyond the small screen. Even with record numbers of viewers and the participation of the world’s most creative ad agencies, airing a commercial during the Super Bowl can still hurt a brand. While it may seem like the most controversial ads get hit the hardest, a lackluster spot may still consume a massive portion of a company’s marketing budget while failing to attract new customers.

Buying a 30-second spot for $5 million or paying double for a minute are rarely options. Though it would be easy to sit on the sidelines, brands have challenged traditional methods of marketing during the big game. They might not be reaching a tenth of a billion people, but the most brilliant campaigns hardly need to.

The age of the millennials has only just begun, and there are lessons to be learned. They love to multi-task, and what better way for a brand to keep them distracted than with a viral campaign to participate in? Commercial breaks during the Super Bowl still attract the buzz, but with a smart phone in nearly everyone’s pocket, there is no surprise that a well-run social media campaign can, for significantly less money, attain substantial success.

Esurance began a trend. During the 2014 Super Bowl, they were the most-tweeted brand – and they didn’t even air a commercial during it. Instead, they touted their money-saving abilities during a post-game ad, featuring actor John Krasinski. In it, he encouraged viewers to participate in a sweepstakes offering of the $1.5 million Esurance saved.

According to Ad Age, Esurance’s total media spend that year was $263 million, proving even brands that can afford to air an ad during the game are thinking outside the box. They utilized celebrity marketing, but it was their clever approach that stole the show.

There is a difference between having a big budget and big ideas. Those with both tend to fare the best, but even the cleverest campaigns can be free. Volvo, who opted out of advertising during the game, crashed the Super Bowl with a groundbreaking Twitter campaign, instructing fans to tweet at them during rival automaker’s commercials for the chance to win a car. They trended globally throughout the game, proving that it is not the platform that earns fans’ attention. It is the idea.

photo credit: www.wikipedia.com

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