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Will your favorite Super Bowl ad’s digital campaign be a touchdown or fumble?

What happens when a Creative Strategist and a Creative Director tackle Super Bowl advertising in today’s digital world? Find out in Emma and Colin’s latest blog! Plus, get your free interactive Super Bowl Digital Campaign Scorecard.


COLIN: So, Emma, for the first time in 37 years, Budweiser is skipping the Super Bowl. That means they’ve joined Coke, Pepsi, Audi, and Hyundai who are also taking a pass this year. All of these companies have framed their absence by citing realignment of marketing priorities driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. But I suspect there might be more to it. Thoughts?

EMMA: You’re absolutely right! While Pepsi is still sponsoring the half-time show, most of these brands have not missed many Super Bowls in the past. Sitting this one out is likely not only a reflection of the year we just had, but a belated alignment with the changing media landscape and reflection on the growing importance of accountability. So many of the past commercials have left me wondering if they really provided a strong enough return on investment to justify their existence. And it looks like that question is more top of mind than ever. 

Does running a Super Bowl spot still make sense?

COLIN: Super Bowl spots are really expensive. This year, it costs $5.5 million to run a single 30-second spot (and those who want to be included in CBS Sports’ livestream of the game must pony up an additional $300,000.) But I suspect the bigger issue is that Super Bowl spots by themselves don’t have the same impact they used to. Every year consumers are being bombarded by more and more marketing messages. At last count, between 6,000 and 10,000 a day. That means even the very best Super Bowl spots are having their time in our brains cut short by this never-ending avalanche of ads demanding our attention. 

EMMA: Realistically, brands can only see a return on their Super Bowl spend if they make sure they amplify it well beyond the broadcast itself. There’s inevitably a lot of discussion about the ad spots and if brands are not deliberately driving them, they’re leaving all that money in the ether. 

COLIN: A lot of the digital amplification efforts we see around Super Bowl spots are about amplifying the spot’s brand message, and at their best, creating new opportunities for consumers to engage with the brand, which is great. But there’s also an opening for clients and their agencies to leverage this momentum to aggressively move people lower into the purchase funnel, into engagement and conversion.

EMMA: Spot on, Colin. It’s not just about digital amplification, but a full-funnel campaign, where the TV spot is just the beginning. So, let’s try a little thought experiment. Imagine we had a client dropping $5.5m on a Super Bowl spot and wanting more than an honorable mention in the post-game review of the ads. What’s the first thing you’d want to know?

Building out your Super Bowl campaign digitally

COLIN: Well, first I’d be fervently hoping our client’s big Super Bowl idea has the kind of legs to carry it through all of our digital channels. In today’s world, that should be a major criteria for any client and agency, ensuring their Super Bowl spot can naturally and compellingly extend itself outwards with big, giant legs.

EMMA: Big TV ads like this, by definition, speak to a broad audience. Expanding beyond that single brand ad, and beyond the single channel, provides an opportunity to have more relevant creative and potentially personalize for different audiences.

COLIN: Like if you have a snack food company and your Super Bowl spot is playing off the idea of great taste. When you think of how to amplify this, you might consider how your Gen Z audience is all about sharing. So, you could give them the opportunity to create and share their own memes based on your spot. For millennials, you might target them with an enhancer message that your snacks are healthier than they might think. And for more value-conscious boomers, maybe we’re serving them up coupons to initiate product trial. 

EMMA: And it’s also important to look for ways to leverage the unique capabilities of whatever channels and platforms you’re using. Maybe it’s by going live on Facebook, using rich media in display, or doing custom filters on Snapchat. 

COLIN: Don’t forget about TikTok!

Increase your Super Bowl ROI by going further down the funnel

EMMA: How could I? You and I were talking about TikTok only last week. People still think of it as just for teens but its audience is maturing beyond that. And it’s shown it can generate not just buzz but actual dollars for clients. "Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical" has raised over $2 million for the Actors Fund and clever commercial activations are providing enviable ROI. 

COLIN: That’s a really powerful example of the need to stay on top of rapidly evolving channels. And, it shows how a well thought out and executed full-funnel campaign can deliver both at the top of the funnel and the bottom. Speaking of which, if you are taking your extended Super Bowl campaign lower in the funnel, you’ll want to use more direct, benefit-driven language with strong call-to-actions. Finding that perfect balance between serving the bigger brand idea and driving lower funnel response is both the challenge and where the fun lies when you crack it. 

EMMA: It is fun! So is watching how others do it. There’s a new first-time Super Bowl advertiser this year for an app called Triller. They’re positioning themselves as an alternative to TikTok. My money says they’ll be engaging in a robust full funnel digital campaign with a strong focus to drive people to download their app. 

COLIN: Okay first, note to self, name drop Triller to my niece and nephew to seem cool. Also, thank you Emma! You’ve just given everyone another reason to use the interactive Super Bowl Digital Scorecard we created as a thank you for reading this blog. 

EMMA: You’re right! So everyone, get in on the action by downloading your very own Super Bowl Digital Scorecard right here. It makes it fun and easy to rate your favorite advertiser’s efforts to digitally amplify their big spot. 

COLIN: On your phone, just open it with Adobe Acrobat Reader. I’m definitely using mine to see what kind of digital game Triller brings. I’m rooting for them!

EMMA: Right there with you. Game on! 

Digital Scorecard