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The Game Before the Big Game

Posted on  29 January 15  by 


by Kelli Theiler

Super Bowl XLIX will air this Sunday, February 1 to over 180 million viewers nationwide. 30 seconds of airtime will fetch a staggering $4.5 million. This, along with factors like social media engagement, has raised the stakes even higher for brands to bring their a-game to the big game. And whom are brands mostly trying to impress with those ads? Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. Will humor, tenderness or something else altogether be the winner in the minds of Millennials this Sunday? We have a few predictions.

Some key themes are clear based on the ads and teasers released so far:

  • The Infiltrators: Some brands have taken advantage of the buzz around the big game without spending any of their budgets during the game itself (Newcastle, Volvo and Papa John’s).
  • The Early Releasers: More brands than ever have released multiple teasers and the ads themselves in an attempt to garner more buzz (Snickers, Budweiser, Squarespace and many others).
  • The Dad-vertisers: Three brands have gone all-in on dads this year (Nissan, Toyota and Dove Men+Care).
  • The Jokesters: Brands have teamed up with some celebrities to help poke fun at themselves (BMW, T-Mobile).

The case for The Infiltrators: Newcastle’s genius casting of Aubrey Plaza in the Band of Brands spots is really speaking to Millennials. Plaza is dry and irreverent, poking fun at the industry and helping Millennials feel smart for being in on the joke. As Budweiser is the exclusive beer sponsor of the Super Bowl, no other beer brands are allowed to advertise — which makes it ever-more interesting to see what competitors come up with.

The case for The Early Releasers: With the costs of spots increasing at alarming rates each year, brands have realized that they need to make the absolute most of that investment. One of the best ways to do that is create mini-campaigns around the spots themselves — complete with microsites, social engagements, pre-show sweepstakes and so on. Millennials are used to immediacy in everything they do — communicating with friends, shopping online, watching shows. They are less interested in sitting back and watching the ads flow over them for the first time during the game.

The case for The Dad-vertisers: No Super Bowl commercial break is ever complete without brands attempting to tug at viewers’ heartstrings. Expect dads to play center stage in this regard, with teasers from Dove Men+Care, Nissan and Toyota showcasing real fathers and their kids. Brands are beginning to realize that Millennials are becoming parents – and traditional-role defiers at that.

The case for The Jokesters: Humor is sure to be prevalent this year as in recent years, but the funny teaser that seems to be getting the most traction with Millennials is T-Mobile’s Data Stash with Kim Kardashian. Young consumers enjoy seeing a brand – and a celebrity — poke fun at itself.

About 80% of Super Bowl ads do not increase sales, but brands justify the hefty price tag with the sheer number of eyeballs and buzz they’ll get. They’re more likely to gain favor with Millennials with irreverence, immediacy, up-to-date social customs and a self-knowing wryness. Now pardon us while we go make some guacamole.


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