Marketing Message Takeaways from the Big Game


We love discussing and dissecting the ads featured during the big game. It helps to look at these big-budget commercials (4.5 million for a 30-second spot) from a small business perspective because there’s a lot we “small guys” can apply to our own marketing and advertising as well.

So without further ado, let’s get to it.
1. Repeat what works. In 2014, Budweiser won big, thanks to its poignant “Puppy Love” commercial featuring a puppy and horse (it was the most shared and most viewed Super Bowl ad). This year, the King of Beers smartly decided that it shouldn’t mess with success. It created a new storyline featuring America’s favorite canine-equine combo. Jury’s still out as to whether this commercial will surpass its predecessor in views and shares, but we predict there’s a very good chance indeed.

Marketing message takeaway: There’s nothing boring or unimaginative about repeating what you know works. For example, re-issue your most popular white papers with an updated/bonus section. Look at the list of your most popular blog posts and create a quarterly “best of” roundup. Re-post the pictures that got the most shares and comments on social media (use the popular “throwback Thursday” hashtag #TBT).

2. Take advantage of a captive audience. The audience for the big game is always massive and filled with way more than just hardcore football fans. If you want to get an important message out, this audience can’t be beat., an organization dedicated to putting a stop to domestic violence and sexual assault, understood just how many people it would be reaching when it put together this incredibly chilling ad. It’s certainly not the usual big game fare, and it definitely strikes a somber tone, but its message is important—and one that will likely touch many people.

Marketing message takeaway: Here’s how you have to think about it—when a bunch of people download a piece of content from your site, you now have a captive audience, right? You can market further to this audience in a variety of ways:

  • Add a call-to-action to the piece of content itself that promotes another piece of content or alerts people about an important message (like a sale).
  • Add calls-to-action on thank-you pages and thank-you emails—again, these would do the same thing…promote other messages.
  • Continue to nurture this audience with a lead nurturing campaign.

3. Don’t be afraid to target new audiences. When we think of Dove soap, many of us probably think of those body-positive commercials featuring girls and women. But guys use soap and deodorants too, right? Dove targets men in this commercial—specifically fathers—in an effort to promote its line of Dove Men + Care products. It does this by spending close to 50 seconds of the 60-second spot sharing images of dads from every walk of life with their kids. And just like that, Dove has successfully carved out a new niche.

Marketing message takeaway: Yes, you need to know your audience and you need to deliver content and messaging that resonates with this audience. But you also need to know when to expand and reach a new audience segment. Conducting focus groups and marketing research can help you determine whether this makes sense for your business—an investment, for sure, but one that could pay off in a big way down the road.

4. Let your fans help build you back up. Carnival Cruise Lines hasn’t had the easiest go of it these last few years, thanks to things like onboard fires and much-publicized norovirus outbreaks. Running advertising during such a huge event (one where so many people take to social media to share their opinions) could be seen as a risky or even foolhardy endeavor.

But Carnival approached this one in the right way: it created four ads and had its fans vote for their favorite. The winner—the “mystery spot”—ran during the game. Getting this fan approval first was a great way to make sure its message didn’t run aground (sorry, we couldn’t resist!).

Marketing message takeaway: Your fans are just that: your biggest supporters. Make sure you turn to them for feedback (through things like surveys), testimonials (video, social, text-based), and referrals. And if the unthinkable ever happens and your business or industry is faced with some bad press, get a plan in place to rally these fans behind you.

5. Don’t forget to have fun. This isn’t a new ad concept for Snickers—the company has been doing the “you’re not yourself…eat a Snickers” bit for years now, but that ad combines a healthy dose of nostalgia (hello, Brady Bunch!) and a surprise cameo at the end.

Marketing message takeaway: Sometimes marketing is a chore. But if it feels like that ALL the time, then you should stop and take a step back. Because if you and your team aren’t having fun with your marketing at least some of the time, then your customers certainly aren’t either.

Shake things up: hold a contest, write a blog post from the perspective of the office pooch, or create a funny employee video for an upcoming holiday. In other words, let loose and enjoy life a little—yes, even your marketing life.

Which big game commercial was your favorite? Share in the comments!

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