5 Lessons from 2007 Super Bowl Commercials and Sponsors By Bobette Kyle

In this 2007 take on Super Bowl XLI marketing and advertising, I focus on advertising methods–lessons gleaned from the commercials and sponsorships (for marketing lessons from previous Super Bowls take a look here, under “The Super Bowl” in the left navigation). As you read each observation and lesson, think how you can apply the lesson (scaled down, of course) to your own business or brand.

Get Customers Involved with Your Brand

For the first time in 2007, fans were able to get in on the action by pitching, writing and producing Super Bowl ad spots. Chevy, the NFL and Doritos all featured fan-generated commercials. From a marketing standpoint, these contests generated extra attention to the brands before, during and after the Super Bowl. Doritos created even more buzz by hosting the contest on Yahoo! Video (where many of the brand’s target market hang out) and allowing their consumers to vote for the winning entry.

– Dale Backus and Wes Phillips co-created the winning “Crash the Super Bowl” Doritos commercial. “Live the Flavor” aired early in the first quarter. Kristen Dehnert’s runner up, “Check Out Girl” aired during second quarter.

– Katie Crabb, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee student, won the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge with her “Car Wash” entry.

– Gino Bona’s pitch for “Hard to Say Goodbye,” aired at the two minute warning, won NFL’s “Pitch Us Your Idea for the Best NFL Super Bowl Commercial Ever. Seriously.” contest.

Integrate a Website Into Marketing Campaigns

Each year ? as the Internet becomes more ingrained in, and a natural part of, our culture ? more Website tie-ins and references appear. These build Website visits in a variety of fashions.

– Commercials that directly advertise company Websites ? CareerBuilder.com, SalesGenie.com, GoDaddy.com and Etrade.com ? have become common in recent years.

– Some ads passively flash the brand’s Website on the screen during or at the end of the spot (Garmin’s garmin.com and Dorito’s snackstrongproductions.com, for example).

– Others ? such as Snickers (afterthekiss.com, which has been removed because of controversy over the commercial), Bud.tv and CBS (cbs.sportsline.com) ? encourage you to visit the Website for more information or to interact with the brand. In the case of CBS, announcers encouraged viewers to visit the site and watch Super Bowl commercials, and to find out more about mobile media products. Bud.tv is an Anheuser-Busch Website devoted to entertaining video and trailers related to the company’s brands.

Another, indirect way some advertisers build Website interest and traffic is to buy text or video advertisements on Super Bowl-related Web pages. In 2007, Super Bowl advertiser King Pharmaceutical (beatyourrisk.com) is purchasing video space on others’ Super Bowl Web pages. In 2005 (and in 2006 as well if memory serves), GoDaddy.com capitalized on its controversial Super Bowl commercial by running AdWords text ads inviting visitors to click through to watch the commercial.

Supporting the Community

Using marketing and advertising resources to support the greater good is win-win. The organizations are better able to continue their good work and the “piece of yourself” you leave behind makes for solid public relations.

This year the NFL, CBS Cares, the Bears’ Lovey Smith and Colts’ Tony Dungy donated time (and lost advertising revenue for the network) to support Big Brothers Big Sisters (bigbrothersbigsisters.org). The NFL also donated a 10 second spot encouraging viewers to volunteer at unitedway.org.

Sponsorships Sell

Maybe it was my imagination, but there seemed to be A LOT of sponsor spots this year. If the Super Bowl is any indication, sponsorships are hot commodities. Every “Super Bowl LVI is sponsored by…” announcement seemed to include a different set of sponsors. By my count, 2007 Super Bowl sponsors included (I’m sure I missed one here and there): Budweiser, Pepsi, FedEx, Toyota Tundra, Careerbuilder.com, GM, Bud.tv, King Pharmaceuticals, Wild Hogs, GoDaddy.com, HP, E*TRADE, and Doritos.

In addition to the “sponsored by” spots, there was “some video coverage provided by Budweiser,” a “Built Ford Tough Kickoff Show,” the “Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show” (not to be confused with the “Blockbuster Total Access Halftime Show Report“) and the game’s “Cadillac Super Bowl MVP” (presented during the “Cadillac Super Bowl Today Post Game Show”). Phew! Sponsorships are alive and well in America.

“What Didn’t Happen” is Viral

Some brands are generating buzz by touting commercials that didn’t appear during the game:

Anheuser-Busch-owned Rolling Rock beer aired a commercial the week before the game reporting a purported controversy about the brand’s “Men In Thongs” commercial possibly not being allowed to air during the game. There was no Rolling Rock commercial during the game. The supposedly “banned” commercial was, however, leaked online through popular video sites. This ? like the brand’s “Ape” commercial that didn’t air on television in 2006 ? smells contrived. The brand creates buzz and curiosity offline by airing apologies and explanatory spots on television. Meanwhile, the racier “banned” commercials circulate on the Internet.

Anheuser-Busch is also generating viral email campaigns around the Super Bowl. I recently received a forwarded email with the subject line “An early preview of Super Bowl ads?” Two commercials ? supposed “Super Bowl reject” commercials originating from Anheuser-Busch ? were attached. One features a “Brazilian Fighting Cockatoo” guarding a fridge full of Bud Light. The other ? starring what appears to be the same cockatoo and a trio of parrots in a pet store ? is a “whazzup” commercial from campaigns past. These both appear to be part of old campaigns, so I doubt they were truly contenders as 2007 Super Bowl commercials. BUT, they are effectively viral and supply incremental buzz for Anheuser-Busch products.

There you have it, five Super Bowl advertising lessons you can apply to your own marketing efforts. Utilize them and take your brand to the next level.