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February 11, 2020

How to Stand Out in a Crowded Media Space: Super Bowl Edition

By now, we’ve all seen Bill Murray in this year’s top-rated Super Bowl commercial and the expertly crafted Boston-themed “Smaht Pahk” ad that no doubt provided New England with much needed laughter after the Tom Brady Hulu spot. This year, 30 second Super Bowl spots cost brands a whopping $5.6 million and numerous star-studded, in-your-face messages populated our screens . But ultimately, brands that channeled nostalgia or a lighter tack truly stood out in the pack. 

Why did these commercials create the most mass appeal? According to Liz Taylor, the global chief creative officer of Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett and North American creative lead for Publicis Communications, advertisers could choose either to tap into the darkness casting a shadow around much of the world right now or dial into their lighter side and create moments of laughter. Per an interview with CNBC’s Megan Graham, Taylor went on to say that “I kind of like that people are going for light humor and entertainment … we have to entertain, and we’re still selling things at the end of the day.”  

To that extent, the “entertaining” begins before the actual ad airs, and brands who capitalize on pre-buzz often steal the show. To borrow a line from seemingly any coach of any sport at any level, preparation (yes, we’re talking about practice and preparation AI) is key to victory. 

In the world of Big Game ads, a clever pre-game strategy is paramount to the awareness and coverage brands seek throughout Super Bowl week. As you might have seen, it was brands that negotiated with talent to have them appear on shows like Entertainment Tonight, Today Show and Good Morning America that generated the much-needed sustained buzz in a highly saturated space –  check out this year’s Lil Nas X Today show appearance for a shining example of brand messaging meeting ad promotion.    

But it doesn’t stop with the broadcast appearances. This year’s most effective brands amplified their ads with behind-the-scenes clips, paid and earned social media activations and brand executive interviews with media, television and advertising reporters. In this case, more is more.   

This year, perhaps more than ever before, the Super Bowl arrived in a notably divisive political and societal climate. For brands like T-Mobile, who recruited Anthony Anderson’s mom for a lighthearted, fun spin on 5G, who embraced wit over opposition, this year was a raving success.  

To those competing for the big spots next year, remember: sustained, clever news hits and a spirit of entertainment and fun are the keys to success. After all, don’t we all just want to be entertained?  

By: Conor Febos, Account Director