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With the clock ticking down to the kickoff of all things Super Bowl, the marketing industry is abuzz with excitement for and speculation over what we will see between touchdowns on Sunday. But smart marketers know the game starts well before the actual game, and can last long after the champagne runs dry. Super Bowl XLV will air on Fox, and AdAge reported last week that the network’s advertising roster is sold out. As details of the game’s major commercial players continue to leak online, we can rest assured that the usual suspects — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bridgestone and PepsiCo’s Doritos to name a few — are gearing up. But so, too, are some new faces. Electronics megastore Best Buy will make its first ever Super Bowl appearance (so will Kim Kardashian), and it’s promising to deliver news that will “revolutionize” retailing. The brand has made no secret of its desire to enter “more iconic” ad spaces, and the Super Bowl — considered by most to be the Grand Poobah of commercial advertising due to the game’s impressive viewership numbers (last year, Nielsen reported 106.5 million viewers tuned in) — is also greasing the tracks for the 83rd Academy Awards (to air Feb. 27). Speaking of, on Sunday major studios will air several highly anticipated trailers, such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Thor” and “Transformers: The Dark Of The Moon.” Other would-be surprises include the unveiling of the third Go Daddy Girl, and Kardashian’s Sketcher’s spot (“What will she wear?!”). Football, it seems, is almost secondary (especially if you’re anything but a Packers or Steelers fan).
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems as if the Super Bowl sets the stage for marketers to gauge the current cultural pulse. As brands gear up both on- and off-screen to engage consumers, savvy ideas, lessons and opportunities abound.
Marketers know that most of the action takes place pre- and post-game, in stores and — increasingly — online. Below are 7 things to tune into on Super Bowl Sunday, many lessons to be learned for your game plan for the coming year. How can they work for your brand?
1. Creative Consumers — My Vertical Marketing Network coworkers and I have discussed the power of Web video, and on Sunday we’ll see a twist on the medium, when PepsiCo’s PepsiMax and sibling brand Doritos unveil the winning submissions for the fifth-annual “Crash The Super Bowl” contest (above is last year’s winner).
2. Global Influence — For the first time, fan favorite Anheuser-Busch InBev will plug an import brand: Belgian beer Stella Artois. The move is meant to “enhance” — or call wider attention to — the brand at a time when all eyes are onscreen, and early reports of the Stella spot sound promising. Don’t worry: the Budweiser Clydesdales will still make an appearance.
3. Online Goes Off — With Facebook, Google and Living Social making an aggressive play with daily online deal campaigns, groundbreaking Groupon will go offline and onscreen to capture consumer attention.
4. Major Minorities — Hispanic outreach was a major player in the NFL’s 2010 Super Bowl marketing strategy, and it paid off. African American and Hispanic viewership was up the past two seasons, and both will likely continue to rise. Let’s see what brands put these statistics to use. Smart ones certainly should.
5. Hashtag Hashtag — Audi of America’s fourth consecutive entry in the big game promises to contain a hashtag — i.e., #audi, #superbowl — which will allow consumers to engage in online conversation regarding the brand and its advertising on social media site Twitter.
6. Social Sidelines — In 2009 and 2010, only one brand — E-Trade — closed its Super Bowl ad (above, an ad from 2010) with a teaser to its social media outlets. With social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube becoming major marketing players, smart brands should want them as teammates. The social sidelines are the only sidelines worth gracing.
7. Cultural Coattails — There have always been brands that take advantage of the Super Bowl without shelling out millions on advertising. But never before have we had so many tools to connect with consumers. This week — before the game — keep an eye out for brands making the most of the madness. And after Sunday, consider ways this cultural phenomenon will continue to play out.
The powerful impact of the Super Bowl is undeniable, and it carries with it countless opportunities for brand exposure. On Sunday, consumers will be focused on the Super Bowl XLV experience, while experienced marketers should focus on which brands are gaining the most yards with the most creative game plans.
Are you ready for some football?