I know I'm not alone when I say it's never too early to start thinking about the Super Bowl... Super Bowl advertising that is. It is the marketer's biggest holiday after all.
Last year was particularly exciting as we witnessed the official birth of what I call "News Drafting" from Oreo, with it's now infamous "Dunk in the Dark" Twitter ad that instantly broke during the blackout, which not only made marketing history, but left viewers scratching their heads with "how did they do that?" Oreo is not the first brand to hop on the "news" and make a comment in the moment, but it certainly was the first to do so on such a large playing field.
We also saw an unprecedented rise in pre-game social media screenings, so prevalent that there were very few new creative surprises during the actual game. While it helped spread the marketing investment, it also made for a very different viewing experience, somewhat disappointingly actually.
And finally, last year was widely recognized as the "Year of the Woman," as we saw brands more broadly acknowledge female viewership with advertising clearly targeted to them. I guess we collectively finally realized that football is not just for men anymore.
So what's in store this year? I have no personal connection to anything running this year, but here are a few predictions from the sidelines.
First of all, every brand under the sun is going to try their take on News Drafting; it's almost a guarantee. As we saw this trend grow from pop culture moment to moment through the year, the Super Bowl is surely going to be a wild romp as brands compete to be the first to comment on what's happening in the moment. I'd also be completely out of touch if I didn't predict that we'd see the continued rise of the hashtag, as brands use social media integration to increase consumer engagement and extend their advertising.
While we often see Super Bowl advertisers dominated by snack, beverage and car brands, I think this year will be different. While all the usual suspects will be there for sure, I predict a domination of retailer brands and a creative use of this space to promote sales. The holiday season was not necessarily kind to retailers this year, nor has the weather been shopper friendly so far. So retailers, and their big marketing budgets, are going to need to drive traffic somehow. My bet is that they'll use the high viewership, as well as all the pre-buzz in social media, to pitch sales events and volume builders to build momentum again. And a lot of this will happen before first play ever happens, both offline and on.
I'm going to prematurely call 2014 the "Year of the Stunt," as we see the Super Bowl kick off an entire line up of brands using stunts and pranks they've caught on film as their advertising creative. Brands like Volvo and Toys 'R Us have shown to break through the clutter, to cause a stir, and to quickly build buzz, so I think we'll see it break out into the mainstream on 2/2/14.
It also won't be just the brand media buyers participating in the Super Bowl movement. The event is top of mind with consumers, so it'll likely be top of mind for any brand trying to capitalize on the attention and potential sales volume. Take a look at the "shortage" of the dip-favorite Velveeta that has already coincidently hit the news, thanks to the onslaught of football games weekend after weekend.
Be mindful, however, that this activity isn't reserved just for the big mega brands. Local, small business, and entrepreneur brands can cut in as well, generating big results without the big budgets. Lest we forget one of the biggest winners from last season, Baltimore's local furniture store Gardiners, who cashed in big with a localized Super Bowl contest that scored national attention and record breaking sales. Touch down!
That's what I love about marketing, any time of the year.