Why Super Bowl Commercials Set a Bad Advertising Example

The “Big Game” is just weeks away, and while the chances of each team is still being debated, the television commercials, that have become as much a part of the game as the coin flip, are already vying for bragging rights.

At up to $5 million dollars for a 30 second spot, these commercials often rely on an extra dose of humor, drama, celebrity, or sometimes puppies to stand out among the typical advertising fare. While commercials are usually the reason to keep the remote close by, Super Bowl commercials are must-see television.

So, with millions of people watching, and countless office conversations and viral content at stake, how can this advertising set a bad example for businesses and organizations?

Targeted Marketing

One of the most important rules of marketing and advertising is to know your audience. Before you do anything else to promote your brand, you need to have a full understanding of the people you are trying to reach. Without this fundamental knowledge, expect to waste a lot of time and money. 

So who is the targeted audience for Super Bowl advertising? In a word; everybody. The Super Bowl attracts all ages, races, and genders. The social tradition of Super Bowl parties, along with its history as a pop culture event has extended its appeal far beyond sports fans.

The money, the viewers, and the hype surrounding Super Bowl advertising sends a message that bigger is always better, which is very rarely true when it comes to small business marketing.

Instead of going for the big splash, most organizations will be better served if they take the time to truly understand their audiences, and develop a marketing plan that will reach them with a message designed to engage and persuade.  If done properly, a targeted digital or direct mail marketing campaign could have far greater impact than the television commercial or billboard that you hope everyone will see. 

Extensive Marketing Campaigns

Snickers, Honda, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Google. These are just a few of the brands that will be on display during Super Bowl LI. Established, global brands with incredible recognition and extensive marketing efforts across many mediums.

These companies will all be hoping to gain the favor of Super Bowl viewers, become one of the fan-favorite commercials, and reap the rewards that come with such an achievement.

However, each one of these organizations also has an ongoing, integrated marketing campaign underway that will never receive the broad-based attention of a single Super Bowl commercial. This is despite, in all likelihood, other pieces of the campaign having a much greater impact on their bottom line. Utilizing some combination of television, print, direct mail, online, social media, billboards, branded content, public relations and more, these companies have a clear understanding of how to reach their audiences, and have decided a Super Bowl commercial supports their plans.

For business owners looking for ideas to upgrade their own marketing efforts, I suggest looking beyond the 30-second commercials airing Sunday. Instead pay attention to the strategic approaches these companies are using to build their brands. Explore how they interact with their customers online, which content they are prioritizing on their websites, and take note of the consistency with which they communicate across platforms.

While Super Bowl commercials are one of the most entertaining forms of marketing, they are just a slice of a much larger effort. And, seldom are they the beginning, or end, of the marketing conversation.

Creativity Before Messaging

One of the reasons Super Bowl commercials have become so iconic is due to the incredible creativity that they exhibit. The Office Linebacker, Darth Vader Kid, and Michael Jordan and Larry Bird’s Game of Horse were all lauded for their creativity.

But, it’s important to remember that messaging is, and always will be, the most important aspect to your advertising. If the audience doesn’t understand how your product or service can be a solution for them, it won’t matter how hard they laugh or how much they enjoy your creativity.

I’m sure a lot of people have a commercial that stands out in their mind, but are unable to recall which company the ad was actually promoting. In the case of the commercials mentioned above, did you know which products they were designed to sell without watching them again?

While the creative aspect of your marketing is incredibly vital to its success, a strong, on-brand message should be your first priority. Once you have this foundation in place, you can begin to develop creative marketing that results in action, not just attention.

If you’d like to discuss how your organization can tell its story with championship-level marketing, start the conversation here.