What Marketers Can Learn from Super Bowl 50



Posted: February 10, 2016 | Modern Marketing

The Super Bowl is an annual event for everyone–from sports fans to music fans to commercial junkies to food lovers—it’s an event that’s transcended a sports competition. And as a marketer, participating in the Super Bowl can be your dream come true or your worst nightmare. On one hand, you have the attention of hundreds of millions of viewers across a wide variety of interests, demographics, preferences, and more. There are very few other opportunities in which marketers have the opportunity to message to such a massive and diverse audience. But on the other hand, these millions of viewers are also incredibly judgmental (myself included), and the costs can leave you wondering whether or not your 30-second, $5 million ad was worth it.

After watching my beloved Broncos win the world championship of football (I am still on cloud nine), I started thinking about how the Super Bowl applies to my career as a marketer. Here are three key things that marketers can learn from the Super Bowl and how we can apply it to our day-to-day work:

1. Don’t overthrow the ball

Thanks to companies like Amazon, your audience now expects a personalized experience with each and every brand they interact with. This means marketers need to be constantly listening to our audience and determining what the right response is–and this is no easy task. Not only that, but our response needs to be served on the device they’re using exactly when they want it. The Super Bowl is certainly a tough time to have a single commercial or ad hit on all these marks for everyone watching–which is why testing is so critical. There is not a marketer out there that can afford to invest in a big Super Bowl spot and not be fairly confident the message will hit the mark. The majority of companies that advertise test several messages prior to the big event. For example, Avocados from Mexico ran four variations of their campaign in October, ultimately leading to the one below that ran during the Super Bowl.

Takeaway Tip: Test ahead of time. You can have greater confidence you are providing your target audience with the message, offer, or product variation that is the best for them.

2. Get them pumped up

Your audience is human–which means you can speak to their emotions, whether that’s making them feel angry, shocked, sad, or happy. And I think we can all agree from personal experience, when marketing strikes an emotional chord, it is usually going to be remembered whether it’s good or bad. One example from the Super Bowl (that I can’t quite figure out if it was a good or bad reaction) is the Puppy Monkey Baby commercial. This commercial was down-right WEIRD! But everyone who watched the Super Bowl probably remembers it. Even the YouTube video has garnered over 11 million views after only one day. So whether you liked it or found it totally wacky, you most likely remembered it–which builds brand awareness.

Takeaway Tip: Remember, you are marketing to people! Your message will stand out and be memorable if it strikes a chord with the audience. Does your campaign entertain, educate, or inspire?

3. Don’t make your plays too complicated

Confusing your buyers is probably the worst thing you can do for both customer acquisition and retention. It’s important to convey a single, consistent message to your audience on every channel. Take Apple for example–who has simplified the decision-making process better than anyone else in the industry. So the key to effective marketing? Simplicity. Colgate embodied this idea with their commercial during the Super Bowl that had a very simple message–save water. This was a great way to showcase their brand by getting a simple, yet very important message across.

Takeaway Tip: Convey one point at a time. Multiple messages may confuse your buyers and get lost in translation.

So no matter what you are marketing, whether it’s cell phones, soda, toothpaste, or even B2B software, it’s important to keep these three tips in mind when engaging with your audience. Do your research and get to know your audience to gauge how they will react to your offer. Also, make your content and marketing stand out by hitting an emotional cord with your audience, but make sure it’s positive. And finally, keep it simple–complex offers will confuse your buyers.

Do you have any marketing lessons from this year’s Super Bowl? Comment below with your thoughts!


Lizzy is a Marketing Programs Manager on the Demand Generation team at Marketo. She works on the development, execution, and analysis of email marketing campaigns. She graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is an avid college sports fan.

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Hut, hut, hike! Follow these 3 tips from the Super Bowl to get you some marketing touchdowns

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