3 February 2021

Superbowl 2021: What small brands can learn from the half-time advertisers

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Kicking off at 6.30pm EST on Sunday February 7th, Super Bowl LV sees the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at their home stadium. But with over 100-million predicted viewers, it won’t just be the players and coaches taking to the turf.

It’s a landmark event for marketeers, too.

Promising dramatic touchdowns and infinite watercooler moments, this is America’s most-heralded sporting event, and the most desired 30-second spot on television. So, as the countdown to Super Bowl LV begins, let’s look at what to expect, and the key takeaways that can help brands enhance their caller experience.


The Multi-Million Dollar Commercials

While you may not find it listed on your calendar, Super Bowl Sunday is widely accepted as an unofficial holiday across the States – in fact, aside from Thanksgiving, more food is eaten on this day than any other of the year. And if you need more proof of its cultural impact, just look to Nielson – not only do Super Bowl games make up 19 of the 20 most-watched television broadcasts in U.S. history, Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 still sits comfortably in the number one place with an estimated 114.4 million American households tuning in. That’s an exceptionally large audience for any brand – but more importantly, it encompasses a hugely diverse demographic, giving advertisers the opportunity to explore untapped markets and lasso them with career-defining commercials.

With only a limited number of slots, this results in a very competitive playing field, as big names across all sectors battle for the ultimate platform – one that unsurprisingly comes with an equally large cost. Prices for a 30-second spot in 1967’s inaugural Packers versus Chiefs Super Bowl cost $42,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $321,000, and today, brands can expect to pay an astronomical $5.5 million – on top of the cost of creating a multi-million dollar commercial. It’s big stakes for those willing and able to fork up the cash, but when done right, the value of these ads goes far beyond the final score.

Generally speaking, the tradition for Super Bowl marketing is to ‘go big or go home,’ but as America, and the world, is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has presented specific challenges for even the biggest of big hitters. Cautious of striking the wrong tone and causing offence, beverage giants Coca-Cola and Budweiser are taking a time out, alongside other regulars including Olay, Hyundai, Ford, and Little Ceasars – in their own words, investing their efforts instead into the ‘right’ resources. This leaves more room for other brands to shine – but they’ll also be treading very carefully, and given the climate, many are expected to opt for either crowd-appeasing light-hearted humor, or tap into human emotions with deeper, purpose-driven spots.

Ones to watch include Chipotle, which is running its first ever Super Bowl ad, asking “Can a Burrito Change the World?” and highlighting “Food with Integrity” standards to reduce carbon emissions, save water and support local growers. Look out for Pringles as well, who alongside unveiling their new branding will run a humorous spot that shows the consequences of becoming engrossed in creating flavor stacking combinations. Meanwhile, E-commerce company Mercari is focusing on contact-free consumerism, with a 15-second ad on decluttering and discovering new finds safely, reminding viewers they can “buy almost anything from home.” Used car retailer, Vroom, is balancing the humorous with the topical – using their airtime to highlight the woes of buying from a dealership and the benefits of their at-home car delivery. Both brands are also first timers when it comes to the Super Bowl – but they’re in good company, joined by a host of other companies including Huggies, Door Dash, and Hellman’s.


The Halftime Show

No Super Bowl discussion is complete without the Halftime show – an event in its own right, which elevates the drama of the most-anticipated game of the year by adding memorable and magical musical moments. Aligning global brands with global superstars, and broadening interest even further by introducing a pop-culture appeal, the tradition of inviting major artists to perform began in 1991 with a set from New Kids on the Block. Before this, the halftime show had simply featured college marching bands, drill teams and other performance ensembles – but as rival networks began counterprogramming, the NFL upped their game to win the monopoly on viewer interest. The result – era-defining performances including Diana Ross, Britney Spears, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and that Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.

Sponsoring the halftime show for the tenth year, Pepsi is touting Super Bowl LV as an ‘epic sound experience’ hosted by headline act, The Weeknd. In less than a decade, he’s amassed a global fanbase, countless award nominations and wins, and was named one of the most influential people of 2020 by Time Magazine. And as well as being set to grace one of the world’s biggest stages, he’s also the first halftime show talent to also feature in Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercial campaign. Titled, ‘Get Ready,’ the ad was premiered during NFL Playoffs to create advance buzz, and shows fans dancing and singing to the chart-topping hit ‘Blinding Lights’ before ending with a cameo from The Weeknd himself.


The Caller Experience: drawing inspiration from the Super Bowl experience

By combining the sheer marketing potential of some of the world’s biggest brands – the NFL itself, Pepsi, and every advertiser featured in-between – the Super Bowl represents the ultimate brand experience, providing valuable lessons to every company who strives to create an effective customer experience, and create long-term brand loyalty.

As a pivotal point in the overall customer journey, and a preferred method of communication for many consumers, it’s vital to ensure your caller experience is perfected. Offering a valuable opportunity to capitalize on time spent on-hold with creative marketing, an expertly delivered audio branding production reinforces brand identity through the combined strength of effective messaging, voice and music. Additionally, as shown with the success of the Halftime Show, music is a powerful tool in conveying brand identity, and by incorporating a unique Brand-Sound-Track™, you can add even more weight, and deliver the very best consumer experience.

So, while you’re watching this weekend, keep an eye on the music and marketing as well as the ball – you might just draw some inspiration for an elevated caller experience.


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