7 Common Advertising Strategies Brands Use During the Super Bowl

Ah, the Super Bowl. That time-honored tradition where we gather to consume enough guacamole to cover Philadelphia’s football field up to your waist (no, really, look it up). 

But Super Bowl Sunday is more than just an opportunity for snack food. Super Bowl ads will cost a record-breaking $7 million this year, and nearly half of Super Bowl watchers claim that they’d rather watch the TV commercials than the game.

What can you expect from Super Bowl 2023 this Sunday? Will companies pull out all the stops for this year’s big game? And can you get your in-laws to stop talking about Rihanna’s halftime performance? Find out the answers to some of these questions below.

What to Expect from Super Bowl Sunday 2023

This year marks Super Bowl LVII. If you squint hard enough and do a little math, you’ll see that this year’s Roman numerals translate into Super Bowl 57. What can you expect from Super Bowl Sunday? Here’s a quick checklist to ensure you’re prepared for the game — though you’re on your own for the chips and dip.

Who’s Playing in Super Bowl LVII?

This year, viewers can watch the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. The Kansas City Chiefs had previously won Super Bowl 54 in 2020, though the Philadelphia Eagles had won the Super Bowl in 2018.

What Network Will Air the Super Bowl?

Wondering where to watch the Super Bowl in 2023? The big game will air on the FOX network, which means you won’t need to talk your spouse into getting cable TV just to watch a game.

What Time Will the Super Bowl Start?

Kickoff starts at 6:30 ET, though if you’re the kind of die-hard fan who wears a jersey or paints your face, FOX offers over seven hours of pregame coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. ET.

What Commercials Will Be Airing During the Super Bowl?

Okay, it’s weird to talk about “building anticipation” about a TV commercial, right? Maybe, but Super Bowl commercials have become a tradition unto themselves. Where would American society be without the Budweiser frogs or the E-Trade Baby?

This year promises to be no different. If you tune in, you’re likely to catch a few of these Super Bowl ads in 2023:

  • PopCorners, featuring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad

  • Michelob Ultra, paying homage to the classic comedy Caddyshack

  • Pringles, featuring pop sensation Meghan Trainor’s hand stuck in a Pringles can

  • M&M’s, featuring new spokesperson Maya Rudolph

  • Doritos, whose two ads will feature Jack Harlow and Missy Elliot

  • Crown Royal, featuring rock legend David Grohl of the Foo Fighters

That’s just a sampling, of course. During Super Bowl 2022, viewers could take in 60 different TV ads, which showed that some of the biggest competition had little to do with the end zone and more to do with scoring new customers.

7 Super Bowl Advertising Strategies

So what’s inside the playbook for Super Bowl 2023? Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best strategies companies are using to capture your attention during Sunday’s game.

1. Under the Influence: Celebrity Endorsements

Did you notice anything about that list of TV ads? Nearly all of them feature a celebrity of one type or another. In the age of the “influencer,” it pays to have a well-known celebrity appear in your ad. Doing so allows companies to build on the credibility of the influencer’s established brand.

Small companies can follow suit even outside of Super Bowl Sunday. Sure, your marketing budget might prevent you from getting Morgan Freeman to narrate your commercials, but even partnering with a local celebrity or online influencer can help you generate brand awareness.

2. Humor Makes It “Stick”

A 2018 study found that people remember funny ads more than any other kind. In the early 2000s, college guys couldn’t greet each other without the “Wassuuuuuup?!?” line from the Budweiser commercial. And last year, viewers laughed at the idea of an Amazon Alexa shattering the domestic harmony of Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost.

Humor can be tricky, but it pays big dividends. Creating ads with an unexpected twist can help your brand “stick” in the minds of viewers and may even get them to share something that makes them laugh.

3. Hit Them Right in the Feels

Super Bowl advertising strategies tend to go in one of two directions: side-splitting humor or heart-melting emotion. For example, Dove’s 2015 “real strength” ad emphasized the need for paternal care, and last year, Toyota created a Super Bowl ad featuring Paralympians Brian and Robin McKeever.

This strategy can be risky since viewers can smell a gimmick a mile away. However, creating marketing content that uplifts and empowers can create positive sentiment among your target market and highlight how your brand impacts the community.

4. The Nostalgia Factor

Hollywood has already cashed in on the nostalgia craze with reboots of such classics as Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Ghostbusters. Viewers — including millennials — appreciate the chance to revisit a piece of their past. 

Super Bowl television advertising also capitalizes on this, delivering ads featuring references to Wayne’s World, Breaking Bad, and other references to our recent and not-so-recent past.

To pull this off, marketers must find a common memory or narrative their target market will share. Sometimes, it’s as simple as an aesthetic, such as using neon colors to give your brand an ‘80s vibe. 

And if you can combine this strategy with something that makes your audience feel something positive, then “you’re killing me, Smalls” (cue Captain America saying, “I understood that reference”).

5. Focusing on Younger Audiences

With so many ad-free digital streaming platforms, TV commercials aren’t a regular part of a young adult’s viewing experience. But when companies have a captive audience on Super Bowl Sunday, they take advantage. 

Budweiser, for example, is aiming its ad at younger audiences, relying on Kevin Bacon (there’s that “nostalgia factor” again) to appeal to millennials.

If you don’t have a huge marketing budget, this can be challenging. TV advertising might not be the most effective method — and it’s not like Kevin Bacons grow on trees. But identifying the needs of millennials and Generation Z can help you tailor your message and provide solutions that appeal to a new generation of consumers.

6. Promiscuity (Still) Sells

A generation ago, viewers fell in love with supermodel Cindy Crawford for drinking a Pepsi. This year, the tradition continues, with viewers getting an eyeful of a naked (yet strategically-covered) Anna Faris, posing as Eve in an ad for avocados.

Promiscuity sells — or grabs your attention, at the very least. But despite this continued strategy, there’s risk involved. For starters, the boundary between “sexy” and “exploitive” can be fuzzy and can create a negative brand association if you’re not careful. 

But more importantly, some research shows that while viewers may remember the sexy ad, they might not remember the product. So while Super Bowl ads continue to feature skin, marketers may find that this strategy is more than they can bear (get it?).

7. Social Media Marketing: Going Beyond the Commercial

Do you watch TV with your phone in your hand? You’re not alone. A 2019 Facebook study found that a whopping 94% of study participants watched TV while holding a phone. 

Super Bowl ads understand this, which is why they’re incorporating social media hashtags like #doritos or #stuckinpringles into their Super Bowl ads to monopolize viewers’ divided attention.

That’s good news for smaller businesses. Your marketing budget may not allow you to hire big-name celebrities. Still, you can at least find ways to build a social media marketing campaign that helps you get noticed and even generate online customer leads.

Make More Guac

Super Bowl ads reveal something about American culture. They also reveal something about the American consumer. And by devoting so many dollars, companies show the importance of a well-crafted marketing strategy

Businesses that adopt some of these strategies into their advertising campaigns might not see the kind of revenue Toyota or Doritos do, but you just might see your profits increase.

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