Super Bowl

The Super Bowl Frenzy Begins

28 Jan 2019  

Welcome to the biggest week of the year for marketers in the United States. The Super Bowl is coming right up. Over the next several days, we will see some of the world’s largest and most talented companies roll out Super Bowl campaigns costing millions of dollars. It is worth paying attention; you can learn a lot about the state of marketing and business.

Why the Super Bowl Matters

For marketers, there is nothing like the Super Bowl; it is a distinct and completely unique event, for several reasons.

First, the Super Bowl has a massive viewership. Over 100 million people will likely watch the Super Bowl this weekend. That is roughly 1/3 of U.S. residents. For marketers hoping to reach a large share of the population, this is a tremendous opportunity. More important, there really aren’t alternatives. The Oscars, usually the second most watched show of the year, had only about 30 million viewers last year, and this figure has been falling quickly in recent years.

Second, people pay attention to Super Bowl ads. Most of the time, people work very hard to avoid watching TV ads, and they are getting quite good at it. The Super Bowl is different; many people – some argue most people – watch the Super Bowl to see the ads. For a marketer, this is a rare and delightful dynamic.

Finally, the Super Bowl generates a huge amount of social media chatter and buzz. This gives marketers an opportunity to engage with customers.

What to Watch For

Pay attention to several things this week as the game approaches.

– Creative themes: Super Bowl advertising reflects public sentiment in the U.S. All the advertisers do extensive research, so the concepts build on what people are thinking about, excited about and worried about. This weekend, we will hear about student loans, wind power and women’s empowerment. Watch for what other themes emerge.

– Controversy: It takes a brave marketer to do anything polarizing or political on the Super Bowl. The 84 Lumber ad from 2017 was pretty unique (and not a huge success!). Will Gillette run its new and controversial ad? Of course not. But a small advertiser might take a risk.

– Pre-Game Hype: This week many of the advertisers will be trying desperately to capture your attention. What will they try? Will it work? Some advertisers this year are releasing two rounds of teaser spots. Here is one from Pepsi and another from Olay.

– Ambushers: A classic strategy is to ambush the Super Bowl, taking advantage of all the excitement without actually running an ad. This is much easier said than done, however. It takes real creativity and a bit of luck. Look for advertisers who embrace the challenge and watch the results. Skittles, for one, has a simply bizarre – and charming – campaign in the works.


Advertising on the Super Bowl is a bit like riding a rocket. There is intense action for a short period of time. It all might end well, or it might be a disaster.

Every Super Bowl marketer is putting their career on the line. It should be an exciting few days.

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