Marketing Briefing: Why some brands are looking to the metaverse, NFTs to hack their way into the Super Bowl this year


This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

For years, savvy marketers have tried to get consumers’ attention during the Super Bowl without paying the hefty cost of a 30-second spot. That’s no different this year — why pay $6.5 million for a 30-second ad if you can get people to pay attention to your brand for a fraction of that cost — as brands are looking to use the metaverse, NFTs and more to crash the Big Game. 

That brands like Miller Lite (the beermaker is using a metaverse bar to get around Anheuser-Busch’s category hold on Big Game sponsorship), Animal Planet (the network is giving out NFTs for the Puppy Bowl) and Frank’s Hot Sauce (the CPG brand is touting an “edible” NFT for the Super Bowl), among others, are leaning on the metaverse and NFTs to hack their way into Big Game advertising without paying the cost of a Super Bowl spot isn’t surprising.

Marketers and agency execs say that Super Bowl hacks are  “often centered around some new technology or platform, where eyeballs aren’t costing a huge premium, and the brand gets PR and credit for being a first mover,” said Bob Rayburn, executive creative director at Innocean USA. 

That being said, while these brands will likely get credit for bringing metaverse and NFT experimentation to shoulder Super Bowl activations, marketers and agency execs caution that leaning on new technology or platforms to get people to pay attention can be risky. Without a tie to the brand’s purpose or a reward of some kind for that attention, the move can be seen as nothing more than an attention grabbing gimmick hopping on the latest trend. 

“Marketing prospectors in the new metaverse gold rush seem to have things backwards and brands building a Web3 presence are mostly going for quick hits of a blockchain-based high,” said Ethan Rechtschaffen, associate strategy director at Deutsch New York. “It’s buzzwords as substitutes for strategy, headlines over earned attention.” 

“Right now, brands tackling ‘metaverse-adjacent’ land are trying to build virtual Disney Worlds instead of thinking about what makes Disney World eternally popular,” Rechtschaffen added.`  

Rather than leaning into the metaverse or NFTs simply because they are popular and new, marketers need to find ways to make them meaningful beyond a headline if they are going to use that approach to hack this year’s Super Bowl advertising, according to marketers and agency execs. 

Even so, some believe it’s inevitable that marketers will make mistakes when doing so. “Similar to when brands were first integrating social media into their marketing plans, there will be some really creative, amazing experiences and some that will fall flat,” said Jake Webb, co-founder and president at Slash MGMT. “The key with any NFT or metaverse project will be creating utility and connection to real-world value.”  

Paige Raiczyk, social content strategist at Berlin Cameron, echoed that sentiment: “People will pay attention if you give them value outside of an entertaining Super Bowl spot.”

3 Questions With Templafy CMO Greg Sheppard

What was the experience transitioning from chief revenue officer to chief marketing officer? 

In my new role as CMO at Templafy [a content management platform], I lead traditional marketing disciplines like demand generation, product marketing, strategic communications, but I’m also responsible for sales enablement, segmentation, pricing and packaging, which brings together most of the go-to-market teams, partnering with our sales and customer teams. Similar to sales, B2B marketing is very metric-driven. But outside metrics, and also like sales, in marketing there is a contextual element where you have to trust your instincts when there isn’t enough data. Building this foundation as CRO strongly helped my transition to CMO earlier this year. 

What were the important transferable skills during that transition?

More tactically, understanding the customer is a skill that is absolutely transferred from CRO to CMO. In sales, it’s understanding the customers’ challenges and how our platform can solve those problems for them. In marketing, it’s the same thing — the difference is just in how you execute [on] that understanding.

How do the skills you took from being CRO to become CMO help drive alignment across teams?

As CMO, I’ve been able to succeed in this largely due to my ability to understand the customer and their needs from both perspectives. This knowledge led me to work with the marketing team to implement new messaging. This messaging is now rolling out not only across marketing channels and sales but also across the organization in areas like product and engineering teams so they can utilize that in their work as well. — Kimeko McCoy

By the Numbers

The way people use social media is changing. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed people to spend more time on social media for everything from everyday entertainment and connecting with friends to product discovery and live shopping. As internet culture continually shifts and changes, new research from Imgur and market research company GWI reveals that more than half of survey respondents say it’s important that brands are able to keep up and speak internet-based language. More key findings from the survey below:

  • The number of Gen Z platform users who said they were using filters on Instagram postings dropped from 28% to 22%, between Q4 2020 and Q2 2021.  The number of respondents who said they were doing the same on Snapchat went down from 42% to 38%.  
  • 60% of Gen Zers said they believe it “is OK for people to say when they are struggling” in 2021, which is up from 57% the year prior. 
  • 61% of internet users who responded to the survey agree that it’s important that content from brands online is entertaining.  — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the Week

“These companies have too many priorities, and one person is doing the job of multiple people. You can do summer Fridays, you can do a day of rest and you can do vacation time. But the issue is when you get back to work, your workload is still there.”

— A brand salesperson in a recent Confessions interview on why they were relieved to get fired as companies expectations are still leading to overwork and burnout.

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