To be fair, the Superbowl has not always been a point of interest for me.
Much to the chagrin of my husband and in-laws, I still sometimes cheer when the wrong team gets the ball (entirely on accident, I swear!).
But this year, I was captivated. Not because of the on-field action but by the realization that this is one of the biggest weekends in advertising in the United States! Those advertisers paid $70M for each 30-seconds spot. When you’re putting that kind of money into distributing your message, you better believe that you’re putting a pretty hefty amount of time into refining that message for maximum impact. At least, you’d hope so.
So here are my top four observations from watching more than half-billion dollars worth of advertising, and how you can apply it across your small business marketing as well!
First: Leverage Partnerships!
Holy moly! Did you notice how many of those ads had multiplebrands featured in them?
Partnering on advertising is a phenomenal way to offset someof the cost of that advertising. Beyond that though, it’s a great way to exponentially expand your reach. What if you could get three of your network partners to share your messaging across their network as well? (PS if that idea doesn't excite you...you need a better network!) And, of course, vice versa. The potential reach is massive.
What if you could come up with a co-written blog with a referral partner?
Or a video that you film together that features both of you and split the filming/editing costs?
Can you get permission to use someone else’s brand in your marketing in order to leverage the trust of that brand? For example, how often have you seen someone use “As Seen On” in their advertising? Because it leverages the trust that that brand has built.
Some of the most memorable brands were the ones running ads online during the game. Seeing Google have an ad on the home page promoting the Pixel, with the same messaging as their ad during the game, reinforced that message not long after I saw the ad itself. M&M did the same. A religious organization did the same (That…I’m unfortunately forgetting the name of off the top of my head…But I do remember the black and yellow branding!). TurboTax.
There’s something special that gets triggered in our brain when we see a brand in multiple places. It builds trust. It builds memory. It makes us more familiar and comfortable with the brand so we’re more likely to reach for it next time we need what it offers.
Third: Tell Stories!
There’s something special about a Superbowl ad. You are waiting for the twist, the funny angle, the celebrity appearance, the pull on your heartstrings. They make you feel good, or smart, or amused!
And that is most memorable when it’s got a story attached to it. Even without a celebrity, one of the ads I remember most clearly is the TurboTax commercial angled at small business owners. It shows a young guy who clearly loves his plants, taking meticulous care of them. He snips a tiny bud here. Caresses one there. Then the camera pulls back and he’s surrounded by thriving plants as the narrator advises you to do what you love and let TurboTax take care of the rest.
It spoke to me and stuck in my mind for obvious reasons (applicable,much?) but I also really loved the story they drew with just a few shots. You knew that this guy opened a plants shop because he loves plants. And that he’s onsite nights and weekends taking care of his special guys! You know that he’s the guy who goes to plant-care conferences instead of business conferences. And he’s the guy that can talk for hours about a Ficus. And you know this without TurboTax having to tell it to you verbatim.
Instead of saying it, they painted a visually evocative and emotionallycompelling picture.
Think about what STORIES you can start telling in your advertising,and how you can SHOW them.
Don’t post about how “We make it easier to hire!” make a video where you’re literally burning a resume and saying “The old way is out! It’s time to make hiring easier!” And that says “Oh wow! This is new, and exciting! I want to check this out!”
Fourth: Don’t be Afraid to Play The Long Game!
A few weeks ago, M&M announced that they were doing away with the M&M spokescandies. It basically sparked an online riot!
They’d already gotten rid of the stilettos and boots…now they were doing away with the candies entirely? This prompted actual rants on Fox News about how ‘woke’ the world is getting and how angry everyone was. It
prompted calls for boycotts etc.
M&M ran a series of ads with a new spokesperson, an actress who claimed she was going to rename M&M’s Ma&Ya’s to reflect her name.
In their Superbowl ad, the new spokeswoman is going off the deep end and ranting about chocolate covered clams. I’ll be honest, I was lost (which, I think is why this ad isn’t being talked about nearly as much as it could have
been!). At the very end of the add, in the busy background of insanity happening, you see the red M&M with a “Help me!” sign.
It sparked a “Wait…are the spokescandies back?” moment for me…Then later in the game, almost at the end, a commercial for a streaming service was doing a recap of the game and one of the two figures looked at the
other one and goes “So the M&M Spokescandies are back?” And the other gal goes “Yup!”
And it was official!
And it was memorable.
And they got a TON of free publicity!
Also, I love the fact that they did this without really playing off major controversy. I think they could have done the reveal of the fact it was a prank a little better and caused a lot more conversation (How much funnier would it have been to have the actress going off the deep end…then jumped and tied up by shadowy figures…and then the spokescandies pop up and say something like “Well…that’s not happening!”?). But it was well-pulled off and they committed to the long game!
Too often we think we have to get return immediately. But sometimes, building some tension and excitement is a great place to start!
I know that all of these can be intimidating and overwhelming to implement…and you don’t have to do it alone!