As TV events go, none come bigger or better (or anywhere near as bonkers) as the annual grid-iron clash that is the super bowl. Two teams, one ball, and an estimated audience of 113 killion in 2015.
Since its televised inception in 1967, the bits between the sport have been as admired, ridiculed, aped and generally talked about as the action on the field.
Superbowl spots don't grace the To-Do list of many creative agencies and studios, admittedly. Creative executions, which are single shot messages at a mass, mixed audience, are the toughest to nail: they need to be instantly gripping, memorable, quotable and as engaging to Grandma as they are to Little Johnny.
So the examples and imparted lessons set by the likes of WPP ( Michael Jackson and Pepsi), W+K (for whom Old Spice Guy made his debut) and more Mother (Becks' singing goldfish,) are valuable to every creative. Read on – Hike! Hike!
01. Think tactically
Big ad agencies will activate armies of marketeers in an effort to respond to data-drive, real-time information on audiences. You'll no doubt lack such luxuries, but that doesn't stop you from forming a rock solid content strategy that makes the most of analytic data, using sites like Keyhole and apps like TweetReach to research trends and key search terms.
02. Take a punt
Convince your client that taking a 'chance' on something more creatively daring is what single-shot advertising is all about. Save the safe, tried and tested tactics for niche campaigns, roll out the crazy concepts and persuade your client that bold is best. Failing that, quote Steve Jobs' infamous 1984 brief to Chiat/Day – "Stop the world in its tracks." Clients love Steve Jobs quotes...
03. Define your (field) goal...
Whether its sales conversions, site traffic, new subscribers or a general branded metrics around audience engagements and sharing, defining what exactly it is you're setting out to achieve is key. Super bowl spots tend to keep their calls to action at a mimimum, and instead aim for impact over activity – think retweets and viral shares rather than bottom line.
04. Play the crowd
Niche messages and generational in-jokes won't play with a mixed crowd, so think in broad, universal themes that include all and exclude none. In 1979 Coca-Cola did this when it showed one of the game's biggest stars, 'Mean' Joe Green, being pacified by a Coke-bearing child. Mums' heart-strings were tugged, while kids and dads oggled.
05. Adapt your gameplan
If an event doesn't go to plan, adapt your brand advantageously. Orio took advantage of Super Bowl 2013's 34-minute black out to post its infamous: "You can still get drunk in the dark" tweet, generating more than 15,000 retweets during the game. Washing powder brand Tide did the same, tweeting: "We can't get your blackout. But we can get your stain out."
06. Find the game space
You can learn from how the big agencies find a space for a brand message within a crowded and noisy creative space. Ogilvy & Mather's E-Trade's ad in 2000 featured a dancing monkey while the screen-text read "Well, we just wasted $2 million. What are you doing with your money?" Everyone else's ad seemed over budgeted by comparison.
07. Make a pass
No more than two weeks' after Super Bowl 2000, every phone call in the US was answered with the line 'Wassup?' A fortnight later the rest of the world was savaged by DDB's Bud ad and went viral. What made this even more successful was that it encouraged family members – from granny to baby – to get involved with the daft response.
Words: Tom Dennis
Opening image: The Force (opens in new tab), Voltswagen 2011 Super Bowl commercial
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