The Four Keys to Super Bowl Marketing on a Pop Warner Budget

gangnam-style-pistachiosSuper Bowl XLVII is in the books and the talk of water coolers now shifts from the actual game to the commercials. Super Bowl Sunday is the most-watched event in television, where dozens of companies feel content to spend up to $4 million on 30 seconds of television ad space. Even household name brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi find the massive investment worthwhile to maintain their position in the market and maybe—just maybe—pick off consumers who were loyal to a competitor.

If you’re the owner of a small business, you obviously don’t have the means to advertise on Super Sunday. But there are still lessons to take away from these epic commercials. Whether you want to take your marketing efforts to local TV, radio, social media, or group SMS, it’s important to take tips from the most established names.

Below are a few recurring themes among Sunday’s most talked about ads. The one thing they all have in common: they’re free. Any company can use them but many small businesses feel too intimidated to try. Don’t make your business one of them. Use even one of these elements and you won’t need to hire Bar Rafaeli or The Rock to drive your message home.

Humor – Any analysis of Super Bowl commercials immediately goes into which ads were the funniest. Broad humor, subtle humor, pop culture humor, risqué humor, all humor was fair game during Sunday’s broadcast. After all, 30-second advertisements make the perfect medium for comedy: quick and concise without letting a joke overstay its welcome. But writing humor is a minefield, where a joke that doesn’t land will lead to more cringes than customers. Test every joke thoroughly if you decide to go this route.

Sincerity – If you don’t want to attract consumers with humor, sincerity works just as well. A few simple, honest words go a long way in a society jaded by loud, bombastic nonsense (like, say, 250-pound men bashing each others’ heads in at full speed). If you and your company can be the ones to have society stop for a moment, look around, and enjoy a genuine emotion, it will be handsomely rewarded. Don’t try to aim for a tear-jerking piece. Just be candid and human.

The Unexpected – No matter what style you choose to use for your pieces, the most memorable are the ones that throw the audience for a loop. Most people go through the drudgery of everyday life only half paying attention to what advertisers and marketers tell them. What’s worse is that the marketing field is so full of copycats that audiences immediately tune out because they think they know what’s going to happen. So a sudden diversion from the expected will command their attention for at least a few seconds. If you use those seconds wisely your message could last a very long time.

Courage – Some of the advertisements succeeded; some fell short of their goal. But they all endeavored to create something new for, in many cases, one of the biggest days of their business. It’s the challenge of creativity: not actually being creative but being bold enough to attempt creativity in the first place. Even the most cynical media soul must give those businesses some credit for that much.

The most prestigious agencies in the world spent a great deal of time and money essentially getting back to the basics. If all you’re equipped with is a smart phone and a group opt-in SMS account you can create the same effects in 160 characters or less. Gather your team (or at least a few friends), brainstorm ideas, and inject some freshness into your campaign. With a little luck we might see you in time for Super Bowl L.

Eric Duncan

Eric Duncan writes about Marketing for TextMarks--The industry leading SMS Marking & Communications platform.

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