These Proven Ad Tactics Will Make Your Next Campaign A Touchdown
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These Proven Ad Tactics Will Make Your Next Campaign A Touchdown

January 28, 2016

Jennifer Mills

Proven and perfected amidst the limelight of the Super Bowl, these key tactics will position your campaign to stand out from a large competitive field, inspire positive viewer reactions, and create that all-important brand buzz any time of year.

Every February, American football fans eagerly await the pinnacle of their season: the Super Bowl. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the game and anticipation is high, but not just for the main event; amazingly, almost half of all viewers now tune in only to watch the commercials that air throughout the game.

Super Bowl advertising has rightfully earned its place as a cultural phenomenon; each year the most successful ads succeed in capturing viewer attention and emotions, resulting in immediate brand buzz and a voice in pop culture.

Historically, however, there has been one key problem: successful Super Bowl advertising is largely a flash in the pan moment for brands. Landing in the “top 10” list one year does not necessarily make next year’s creative battle any easier. This problem is also inherently true for campaigns that run during the rest of the year, with brands often struggling to build sustained viral success.

Developing a campaign that inspires an emotional reaction is a tried and tested strategy to increase recall.

If 50 years of Super Bowl advertising has taught us anything, it’s that there are recurring approaches that all successful brands incorporate in order to beat the system and ensure continued campaign success. Proven and perfected amidst the limelight of the Super Bowl, these key tactics will position your campaign to stand out from a large competitive field, inspire positive viewer reactions, and create that all-important brand buzz any time of year.

Tactic #1: Constantly Evolve Your Creative

Keeping a running Super Bowl campaign fresh requires intense creative evolution. There needs to be enough of an impact each year to not only sustain viewer attention, but to build anticipation in the run-up to the following February. Dependably innovative executions on the same theme keep brands buzzworthy and in the zeitgeist year after year.

Best-in-Class Example: Doritos

Doritos first debuted its “Crash the Super Bowl” contest in 2007, and has ensured fresh creative executions ever since by crowdsourcing their commercials from fans. Super Bowl 50 marks the last year of the contest, which has enjoyed a steadily successful run worth applauding. 

Tactic #2: Add a Dash of Celebrity

It can be easy, especially on advertising’s biggest day, for celebrity endorsements to become white noise. In order for star power to breakthrough, brands need to be strategic about its incorporation within the campaign narrative. Successful campaigns have looked beyond obvious A-Listers and instead cast celebrities who, at first glance, may not be natural fits for the brand. When combined with a compelling storyline, a campaign featuring unlikely brand ambassador(s) keeps audiences engaged, and ensures each spot feels consistently fresh.

Best-in-Class Example: Snickers

Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign has been running for multiple Super Bowls, and for good reason. From Betty White playing football with Millennials to Steve Buscemi throwing a temper tantrum, Snickers’ celebrity guests are always featured in unexpected ways that consistently delight a wide audience each year.

Tactic #3: Spark an Emotional Connection

In order to capture attention on the world’s biggest stage, brands in all industries must find new ways to connect with viewers. Especially for products that aren’t intuitively sentimental, developing a campaign that inspires an emotional reaction is a tried and tested strategy to differentiate and increase recall. Compelling approaches to conveying emotion include exploring how a product positively impacts people’s lives, and telling a story that relates back to a company’s core values.

Best-in-Class Example: Budweiser

Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” has been hailed as the most popular Super Bowl ad of all time, so it’s no surprise that the iconic brand is a prime example of this best practice. Budweiser’s recent Super Bowl campaign demonstrates how a company can tap into audience emotions while still remaining true to their brand essence. Check out some of their previous ads here, here, and here for inspiration.

Whether your brand runs its next campaign during the Super Bowl (broadcasting to an unbeatable audience size) or during the rest of the year, make best use of your airtime by crafting a compelling mix of creativity, celebrity, emotion, and ultimately, staying power.

Jennifer Mills

Manager, Insights & Strategy

As Manager, Insights & Strategy Jen leads a variety of multi-methodological engagements at Kelton, with a specialization in the healthcare and financial industries. She is passionate about...

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