No ‘Big Game’, No Problem: Creating High-Impact Ads at a Fraction of the Cost

02.10.2022 Sara Brasfield3 min

The Super Bowl™ is well-known as the biggest advertising event of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also an event in which most businesses can’t afford to participate: the price-tag for a 30-second ad slot during the 2022 Super Bowl™ is pegged at a record $6.5 million, meaning the only companies buying these spots are ones with global brands and deep, deep pockets.

Does this mean the Super Bowl™ has nothing to offer your small business advertising strategy? Not necessarily. While premium ad space isn’t in the cards, the success stories coming from these Super Bowl™ ads—including the messaging and strategies used to make a big impact among an audience of tens of millions of viewers—can offer insights and direction to help you deliver memorable ads that build brand awareness and strengthen performance throughout your advertising funnel.

Rather than trying to place your ad in the Super Bowl™ broadcast, bring a little bit of that ‘Big Game’ savvy to your ad strategy. Here are some tips to make it happen.

Top-of-Funnel Lessons From the Greatest Super Bowl™ Ads of All Time

Like any other top-of-funnel ad, Super Bowl™ ads aren’t necessarily about driving an impulse conversion right after watching the video clip. Instead, these awareness-level ads are designed to do one thing: give you an ad experience that you won’t forget, and that you’ll be compelled to discuss with friends, family and co-workers.

Some of the most memorable ad experiences may offer lessons—or even a template—for creating branded ads that are entertaining, memorable, and consistent with your brand’s voice and values. Here’s a look at some of the most iconic Big Game ads in history:

  • I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke by Coke (1971). Perhaps the first major Super Bowl™ ad, in terms of its impact, this 60-second spot tapped into a shared desire for community—as well as the appeal of music and a smash-hit brand slogan—to position the Coke brand as one that aligned with certain values that offered universal appeal.
  • Where’s the Beef? by Wendy’s (1984): You’ve probably heard this slogan before, but you might not know it originated in a Super Bowl™ commercial. Thanks to a great ad slogan and an iconic acting moment, this ad lodged in our collective memory and reminded us that Wendy’s hamburgers offered “more burger and less bun.”
  • Whassup by Budweiser (1999): Budweiser’s wildly popular ad spot in 1991 spawned an entire series of ads made in the same mold. Although the ad was silly, it was also entertaining and strengthened consumer associations of the Budweiser brand with having fun with friends.
  • Puppy Love by Budweiser (2014): Fifteen years after “Whassup” became a hit, Budweiser set a record for video shares with a heartfelt ad that offered an entirely different appeal. In addition to emphasizing its long legacy as a popular American brand—and putting some tears in the eyes of the Super Bowl™ audience—”Puppy Love” also showed how a single brand can use different types of ad messaging to create resonant, engaging brand experiences.

Stealing the Spotlight: It All Begins With the Right Ad Messaging

While all of the aforementioned ads had the benefit of a massive, captive audience upon their release, your business can still create a similar experience on a smaller level by creating ad messaging that connects with your audience and aligns with your brand’s voice and intended experience.

Approach advertising as an extension of the brand experience you’re seeking to create for your audience—and then make sure the audience will associate your brand with that experience. Logos, product positioning and other branding are important, but so are the storytelling elements that are connecting with your audience on an emotional level.

To achieve these goals, it’s often helpful to identify your core audience you’re targeting through your campaigns. Develop personas of each type of customer your business serves, and then determine where your brand appeal aligns and differs between each of these personas. Then, when it’s time to create your advertisements, make sure your messaging is a fit for whichever personas you’re aiming to reach—keeping in mind that, as Budweiser demonstrates, separate ad campaigns and ad messaging can be used to build brand awareness among different audience groups.

How to Reach a Large Audience Without Blowing Your Budget

Your business can still reach a large audience through a top-of-funnel campaign – without a Super Bowl™ ad. A wide range of ad channels and strategies can help you build a cost-effective, targeted ad campaign that maximizes visibility among your most valuable audience.

Here are some tips to design a campaign that strengthens your brand and delivers long-term value:

  • Consider second-screen experiences—including when the Super Bowl™ is on air. Nearly half of all viewers are engaging with second-screen content when watching the Super Bowl™ or other TV programming. While these ads are running, your business might be able to target Super Bowl™ audiences through second-screen ads delivered via display, mobile and social media channels.
  • Target TV and digital video ads through streaming, connected TV and cable TV inventories. The Super Bowl™ is a massive broadcasting event aired over network TV. This type of advertising only makes sense for brands that have a very broad appeal. Your business might find more value by delivering ads on a small scale and targeting them through cost-effective advertising platforms. Streaming and other video experiences can help you target your ad according to demographic, location and behavioral data points, getting more value out of each ad exposure.
  • Spread your content across multiple channels. Consumer attentions are scattered across TV, digital video, social media, digital audio and other content channels. Lasting brand awareness often requires multiple interactions with a prospective customer. By coordinating messaging and ad delivery across these campaigns, you can increase visibility and retention among your target audience, leading to more sustainable results and ROI.

Eager to take advantage of these advertising opportunities, but overwhelmed by your options? A digital advertising partner can create an ad strategy—as well as ad messaging—that meets your advertising goals, maximizes ROI, and stays within your budget.

Contact Cox Media today to see how we can help.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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