Super Bowl 2017 Advertising: Only the Strategic Will Survive


Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a five part series where we discuss the brand stories tied to participation in big event marketing.

Super Bowl 2017 Advertising - Only the Strategic Will SurviveBy Brian Cristiano, Founder & CEO, BOLD Worldwide

Super Bowl LI is upon us in a mere 12 days, and everyone is wondering: what brands will blow it out of the water this year and what brands will just blow it? The Super Bowl is unlike any other advertising opportunity. Sports fans, arguably the most passionate people in the world, have their eyes glued to the TV screen, waiting not just for a game-changing play, but also, for once, for the ads. EVERYONE is watching.  

So whose big spend will pay off this year? Brands who can find a way to integrate themselves across all channels and platforms.

It’s not enough to buy a $5 million 30-second spot on Fox anymore. Brands need to have a strategy in place for how to start a conversation around that ad to make a lasting impression, starting with a few key moves:

  • Know your audience: Super Bowl viewers are partying, drinking, and having fun — and they don’t want you to kill their buzz. No one wants their happy Super Bowl Sunday memory ruined by a sad story. Don’t bring viewers down with an overly-serious ad. Match the atmosphere of the event with a light-hearted, funny, authentic spot.
  • Tease your content: Super Bowl spots can cost upwards of $6 million. Advertisers should make the most of their investment by pre-releasing content in advance of the game. Giving viewers a chance to preview the ad(s) beforehand generates chatter for your brand leading up to the game, builds excitement for the day of, and keeps viewers buzzing even afterwards.
  • Play up your social: Advertisers need to start understanding the value of integrating across social channels. And recycling the same made-for-TV video across social just isn’t going to cut it. Not all content is created equal, so take the time to understand the unique media consumption habits across platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, and determine from there how to best reach your target audience through each channel.

Beyond those basic principles, this year Fox is creating a whole new ball game by offering brands two completely new opportunities: live ads and digital-only packages. But are they worth the cost? Again, only for those brands who keep the conversation going across channels.

Live ads allow brands to reach the same number of viewers through an authentic experience. If you have the attention, you have the opportunity, and during the Super Bowl, you have the attention. A Super Bowl live ad could be the perfect opportunity to create a viral moment. And with live ads, brands have a unique opportunity to keep the fun going by streaming live on Facebook and Twitter. Just remember to keep it interactive and unexpected — or else it will fall flat.

On the other hand, a digital-only package on Fox’s website alone isn’t a wise choice for anyone. It has to be a piece of a larger campaign. For bigger brands with one or two TV spots, it’s a no brainer, adding another layer of exposure. But for smaller brands hoping to jump on the Super Bowl ad bandwagon for a smaller budget, a live-streaming ad alone is a waste of money unless amplified with activations across social channels. Although everything is headed digital, the Super Bowl is still one of the last holdouts during which broadcast ads still win.

Outside of having memorable and talked-about ads, the advertisers who will find the most success at the Super Bowl will be those who find a way to connect with their target audience across multiple platforms and continue the conversation. I’m interested to see what brands step it up in 2017.

About the Author: Sports fan, marketing expert, entrepreneur, competitive cyclist, husband, rescue dog dad. As Founder and CEO of BOLD Worldwide, Brian Cristiano helps sports brands like Polar, R&A Cycles, the New York Mets, Pepsico, and Feetures find their voice in a notoriously crowded space. Brian is exhilarated by the constantly evolving sports marketing scene and pours that enthusiasm into each episode of his daily podcast, the Sports Marketing Huddle, a show for the forward-looking sports marketing pro. He has a deep understanding of how social, video, emerging technology, and live activations contribute to sports, fitness, and lifestyle brands. This knowledge and awareness enable the team at BOLD deliver innovative results for clients, while Brian’s passion for sports marketing drives him and his team to consistently create cutting-edge content light years ahead of competition. 


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