Gone are the days of broadcast partners commanding $6 - $7 million for a :30 during the big game and brands seeing the return on that investment in that singular moment alone. Although, who can argue that a captive audience of 100+ million consumers watching for every iconic polar bear, puppy monkey baby (what?!), funny talking Bostonian, and elegant Clydesdale is a bad spend when nearly half are there for everything that happens outside of first downs and field goal attempts? Savvy marketers in 2023 know that not only are people interested in the action that happens off the field but they’re also watching for the pomp and circumstance around the making of the ad, the personalities it features, and what’s in it for them. Compound that fact with this content-filled, always-on 24/7 news cycle we live in—a brand’s storytelling moments are no longer regulated to just the big game. Forward-thinking brands know that the :30-:60 in-game spot is only one touch point to reach your consumer and, to really get the bang for your buck, your message needs to be able to live in multiple verticals to get their attention—making the need to build campaigns that can live in the days and weeks before the big game even more important.
Take the month-long 360 approach FanDuel is employing this year. A live ad? Pretty cool. One that pays out the user if everyone’s bestie Gronk makes a field goal? Yea, I'm here for that (I’m not even a gambler). But it’s much more than the actual spot. It’s his prep. It’s the will-he, won’t-he water cooler talk. Editors and social media users have been talking about this for weeks already, and we’re still over a week out from the actual game. With the earned media impressions easily in the billions, they’ve arguably already won long before game day. They’ve taken a potential singular moment in time and expanded it to reach and engage a captivated audience that’s exponentially larger. FanDuel’s efforts are hitting the center of the ever-important Venn diagram when it comes to a brand awareness play married with performance impact.
Take P&G brand Downy or Frito Lay’s Doritos brand as two more examples. The slow reveal of their mystery celebs to reinforce the product attributes creates intrigue and gives both brands a credible runway to engage and reengage while doubling down on important product messaging. Brands that wait until game day are missing out on multiple touchpoints to recruit, re-recruit and retain consumers for their product(s). Limiting the moment a brand is in the spotlight to one day or the 24-36 news cycle after the game does not maximize the opportunity to talk to consumers during one of the most culturally relevant moments in the calendar year. Playing the waiting game can also be a gamble. The brands that are betting against the odds that their creative will have the goods to cut through not just the post-game wrap ups, but any unexpected cultural moments that may occur (cue the blackout). Exceptional marketers and marketing partners will see this as an opportunity and push for smart strategies that start the conversation long before the first whistle. This includes storytelling with key media relationships and smart SEO strategies paired with a competitive paid search approach.
But what about those brands that just don’t have the budgets to support this type of spend? The rise of streaming, the relentless growth of social media, and a regional TV buying approach could be just as impactful. By getting in on the pregame conversation, with the right strategy, a brand could show up in the big game conversation without the enormous price tag. This is especially intriguing for brands with smaller budgets or those who might otherwise be shut out of the formality of the big game spots because of competing brand deals or strict government advertising guidelines.
No matter the budget, if a brand is trying to infiltrate the cultural conversation, increase talkability and awareness, and drive impact to the bottom line in Q1, they must consider finding their way in, and not be afraid to test and learn different approaches when it comes to the big game.