Today, the act of creating a Super Bowl ad has become a month-long, integrated, cross-channel endeavor that requires a whole different strategy than before.


Over the years, Super Bowl advertising has changed greatly, but we’re still in a bit of a transitional period. While we still celebrate the accomplishment of creating a Super Bowl ad (especially for first-time brands), these days, the awareness-building potential goes well beyond 30 seconds of air-time during one of the biggest global live viewing moments of the year.

Today, the act of creating a Super Bowl ad has become a month-long, integrated, cross-channel endeavor that requires a whole different strategy than before. As brands transition from trying to create a memorable and/or funny 30 second piece of content, to developing a cross-platform experience loaded with ways to either personalize, or delve into and explore high-touch, lengthy immersions, it’s never been more important to have the right strategies in place to enable these high-impact experiences around moments when the world is watching your brand.

During the 2015 Super Bowl game, which had an average global audience of 160 million people, we saw brands pre-release their ads as early as 2 weeks in advance of the actual game. Dove for example posted a 60 second version of their “Real Strength” ad online on January 19th, along with the corresponding hashtag #realstrength to drive conversations on social media. While the notion of a “big reveal” is still deeply ingrained with many traditional advertisers, pre-releasing a Super Bowl ad is rapidly becoming the norm with many brands who are looking to increase exposure with the same piece of creative. Through paid, earned and owned media, Super Bowl ads find themselves being watched on multiple channels in a variety of countries, justifying their price tags even before they officially air.  

This cross channel strategy isn’t just relegated to the Super Bowl. Pepsi targeted soccer audiences with “Now is What You Make It” Campaign which included 30 and 60 second ad spots, along with an interactive video that unlocked additional content for engaged viewers. Timed to launch around the World Cup – the Super Bowl equivalent for the rest of the world – this campaign integrated television and digital to create an experience that was unique to each viewer based on how they interacted with the content. Again, audiences expect a level of personalization (often derived from localization) with the brands they interact with, as one well-timed ad spot simply will not deliver true engagement. 

A cross channel strategy is more than just delivering the same content across a variety of screens and platforms—it means interacting with audiences through personalized dynamic creative that speaks to them before, during and long after the 30 second spot airs. While a Super Bowl ad is a chance to reach audiences on a massive scale, it also provides brands an unprecedented opportunity to segment, re-engage and deliver more personalized experiences across multiple channels. 

If an advertiser is not focused on augmenting their Super Bowl 50 marketing strategy to reach specific, in market audiences across the globe, they’re severely limiting the overall performance of such a significant investment. If a brand has the resources to purchase a $5 million 30 second Super Bowl slot featuring the NFL’s top quarterback, then why not create 32 localized versions with less expensive retired players, and target local audiences with a message that connects directly to them? Last year, the website development company Wix emerged quite strongly with a similar tactic, rolling out 26 pre-game teaser ads across 16 different social accounts, in order to drive engagement with audiences well beyond the massive 120 million viewers for last years Super Bowl. This is the kind of thinking that brands have to embrace to cut through the noise today.

Linear television today still suffers many of the same limitations it has had since its inception that inhibit its effectiveness. Television advertising is still purchased today on very broad demographics that often leave brands overspending on their media. Again, it is powerful, but a successful marketing campaign today means developing an all-encompassing digital strategy that takes into account mobile, social, video and display. And with social media affording brands the opportunity to engage with audiences in real-time, there is more incentive for marketers to optimize for an integrated campaign strategy that looks beyond television. Brands often pull out all the stops to create their 30 second moment during the Super Bowl, but are they really doing the same simultaneously across the globe on multiple channels?

By focusing on longer narratives to engage target audiences through dynamic creative and more personalized communication that is optimized for conversion, Super Bowl advertising can be more than just a flash in the pan moment. The Super Bowl is undoubtedly the advertising event of the year, but by incorporating their campaigns across channels, brands can find themselves far surpassing the goals they initially set for themselves. 

Neil Nguyen