Fun fact: More Super Bowls have been won by quarterbacks wearing the No. 12 jersey than any other number. And I, too, have an affinity for the number 12. It represents how many consecutive years my organization has executed strategic Super Bowl focused campaigns for clients (so far), including playing a hand in developing over ten 30-second spots, countless social, digital and onsite game executions and two official halftime show sponsorships. As I write this, our team at Levelwing is hard at work on number 13.
Levelwing has delivered integrated executions on the world’s largest stages, from market-leading brands like Bridgestone to challenger brands like Gildan. The Super Bowl ranks right up there on the largest stage, and the experiences and knowledge we have gained are immensely valuable.
Ideally, the Super Bowl is not just an event but rather a series of carefully coordinated weeks of executions that climax with the Big Game and then an afterlife lasting for many weeks and months.
The Super Bowl for many years was the greatest day for advertisers, but today it is not. That change began when 30-second spots that previously aired in-game for the first time were released before Sunday. Now there is rarely any element of surprise. This is great news for brands because game day is now an opportunity to be game year, providing a much bigger and more far-reaching opportunity than ever before.
From a marketing perspective, those who believe the Super Bowl is a one-day event are missing the bigger picture, and they are missing the optics of what could be achieved for a brand and how it can impact brand positioning for many years.
There are three core things for a brand to understand about the Super Bowl as an advertising opportunity, too. It requires long-term commitment for optimal value, digital must be the star rather than a supporting actor and relationships are everything.
Here are some lessons learned on how to maximize this sizable investment.
Long-term commitment for optimal value
Continuity of a brand and its message extended over a reasonable length of time is imperative to your marketing strategy. It is like driving a car—in order to keep it moving, you need to continually invest in gasoline.
For the Super Bowl, that means having a pre-game strategy and seeding relatable content and brand activations to your target from weeks to one-month prior. For in-game strategy, it means having on-site and/or real-time content and engagement from Thursday through Sunday on Super Bowl weekend.
For a post-game strategy, it means having a comprehensive media and content plan that engages your target for many months after the Big Game. This can be hard for many brands because of the long-term commitment to a consistent process or plan. The shine and interest of the game wears off pretty much immediately after—literally within a few days—so brands pivot to other activities and squander the initial progress that was built. It’s an unfortunate decision. It’s like taking a rocket to the moon with no return pod; your investment dies.
Digital must be the star, not a supporting actor
Back in 2008, digital media was an afterthought, but as recently as 2017, digital was still considered a support mechanism for Super Bowl campaigns. For a brand today, the entire campaign strategy—the concept, the creative, the athlete engagements, the media, the onsite activation—should be built around a digital-first approach.
A brand can gain more impact from a digital Super Bowl asset than the game itself. For most Super Bowl advertisers, the halo effect for the brand diminishes tremendously within a 48-hour period after the game. One of the best ways to extend this effect is via digital media, particularly social media. This takes commitment, investment and a focus on the long-term view. So don’t stop after the game because digital platforms like social media, OTT and advanced TV targeting are key to keeping your brand message alive.
Relationships are everything
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes great partnerships to foster a Super Bowl campaign. To share a real-life example, the Levelwing team has worked closely with Lagardère, making Super Bowl 54 our 13th partnership together. It is just as critical to have strong working relationships with your partners as it is with your clients. This is what gives the fundamental capability to deliver and creates a higher likelihood for success. In this case, Levelwing delivers media, creative and social content and Lagardère delivers the athletes and NFL logistics. It’s a partnership made in heaven that has played out on the worldwide stage.
Remember, the Super Bowl is not a single event because game day is every day. To find success, you will need outstanding strategic thought, strong fundamentals, a commitment to a long-term plan, a digital-first approach and trusting relationships.