Marketing Briefing: For this year’s Super Bowl, marketers will seek to ‘stretch investment’ however they can

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At this time last year, marketers expected the Super Bowl to be even more important than usual for 2022 as live events like the Golden Globes and the Grammys had been off the air or postponed. That’s not the case this year, as the Golden Globes returned to NBC last week (with ratings reportedly down roughly 26% from when it last aired in 2021) and the Grammys slated for Feb. 5. 

Even so, marketers and agency execs say that the importance of the Super Bowl remains high as it is one of the few events where consumers are tuning in live and actually paying attention to the ads. That attention – harder and harder to come by – is why marketers are still willing to shell out up to $7 million for a 30-second spot on Super Bowl LVII on Fox on Feb. 12, despite the economic downturn. 

That’s not to say all brands are ready to pony up that kind of cash — some like Toyota and Carmax, among others, are sitting out this year’s game. As for categories, “movies and streamers are the category that is up the most,” said Jon Lefferts, evp of integrated investments at UM. 

The price increase at a time when many marketers are pulling back on ad spending given economic uncertainty will have marketers looking to get as much bang for their buck as possible with the game to justify the investment, according to marketers and agency execs. 

“Marketers are stretching investments as much as possible,” said Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism. “There’s a greater emphasis on TV placements integrating second-screen experiences to generate a halo effect of earned media [and engagement].” 

Gahan continued: “To maximize their dollars, brands will be maximizing consumer engagement. I think Coinbase’s QR code activation last year opened a lot of people’s eyes. The Super Bowl doesn’t need to be a pure brand-building exercise. Undoubtedly, we’ll see the impact of that. Forward thinking brands will be opening the aperture and expanding beyond ‘celeb + funny commercial = success’ model.” 

Will 2023 be the year of QR codes in the Super Bowl? That remains to be seen, but marketers will be looking to find ways to get consumers to pay attention to their brand – whatever that may be – beyond the 30-second spot they’ve got in the Big Game. 

“A few years back, brands were trying to rewrite the rules for the Super Bowl by using the second screen,” said Tom Murphy, CCO at Wunderman Thompson North America. “The coolest thing possible was to hijack attention by not even having a spot in the game, but doing something designed to steal attention.” 

Murphy continued: “But in the last two Super Bowls, we’ve seen brands breaking the rules with their spots themselves – most notably Reddit, and then last year, Coinbase. Both of those ads rethought what a Super Bowl spot can be. This year, brands will be out to mess with the structure of what a spot on the game can be.” 

Some expect that might be by using AI in some way, something that’s become a very hot topic in marketing and media in recent weeks. “I think we’ll be seeing a lot of references to or use of AI,” said Ben Wolan, executive creative director at DDB San Francisco. “With the rise of Midjourney, Dall-E, and ChatGPT, it feels inevitable.” 

Keith Cartwright, founder and CCO of agency Cartwright, echoed that sentiment: “If I had to guess, AI will play some role in this year’s Super Bowl, too. It’s the talk of the tech world and ours.” 

That being said, marketers expect that a return to humor will dominate the Big Game ads as the current climate makes people seek out a good laugh in challenging times. “We know comedy will probably be king,” said Cartwright. “People are still looking to laugh, especially during a moment like the Super Bowl.” 

3 Questions with Garth Knutson, head of marketing at Aflac

Aflac is carving out more budget for women’s basketball. Why?  

From a business strategy perspective, it makes sense for us to invest there. But also, it’s the right thing to do. If we can use our superpowers for good, which in this case is a sponsor with monies to invest in a player and a fan experience, it was an easy decision to make.

How did you communicate with your team about this change?

I had this whole ramble about how it got me a mixture of fired up and sad. [I sent] a very pointed email: Plan on the ground activities for the men’s Final Four are canceled. All planning efforts, including budget, will ship towards a Women’s Final Four dominance effort. Friday, March 31, 2023, between 51% and 100% of our activation spend will be allocated to the Women’s Final Four in Dallas. 

What’s Aflac’s overall sports marketing strategy? 

We know that the audience we’re targeting are fans of college sports. Specifically, college football and college basketball. Which is why you’ll see us advertising heavily throughout the year, on Saturdays during college football season, and during March and April, with the NCAA March Madness tournament for basketball. That’s top of mind for me. How do we insert ourselves in a way that’s meaningful to our target audience during these passion points that they have? The bulk of the spend for a program like this, for March Madness, will be in linear. After that, the next biggest investment is our on-the-ground experiential activations. And that’s similar for both football and basketball. There’s CTV and OTT in there as well. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

The Netflix series “Emily in Paris” is still a top 10 show in 92 countries three weeks after the newest season premiered on the streamer. The titular Emily is a marketing executive, she is able to afford lavish lifestyles, designer outfits and glamorous parties, which may be why the show is apparently making viewers more interested in the gig. According to Movchan PR, “Emily in Paris” triggered a huge spike in marketing job searches. Here are some key findings:

  • Searches for “freelance digital marketing jobs” have risen by 684% in the U.S. 
  • Searches for “remote marketing jobs no experience” and “online marketing jobs” are up 420% and 315% respectively
  • Searches for “learn social media marketing online” and “learn marketing for beginners” are up 800% and 400%Julian Cannon

Quote of the week

“The whole identity thing is like the emperor’s new clothes… you need to gain a deep understanding of the privacy routine of the vendor.”

— A former in-house media executive, who now consults with CPGs on their retail media strategies, on how to gauge the right solution for the cookieless future

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