Get ready for the greatest show on earth

Jim Carless, head of brand experience at Space explores why brands are choosing to invest in live experiences over TV ads at this year's Super Bowl.

Super Bowl 2017: brand experiences under the spotlight
Super Bowl 2017: brand experiences under the spotlight

I love the Super Bowl. I don’t particularly care for the actual game itself, but I love the iconic advertising moments that accompany the show each year. The game has such incredible appeal for brands because of its ability to attract a massively engaged audience.

There’s a reason so many people call it the greatest show on earth, and with this year’s game expected to attract a TV audience of over 100 million, there’s a reason why some brands save their biggest work for this occasion. But, with a 30 second spot costing around $5 million dollars (and often stratospheric bespoke film production and talent costs) a number of brands with a long association with the Super Bowl are backing out of the advertiser line-up.

Visa, Toyota and Taco Bell are just three brands who have decided to invest their ATL Super Bowl dollars elsewhere. And it’s the brand experience industry that looks set to benefit. US telco giant Verizon for example has invested in sponsorship and live activation around the host city of Houston. As the lead sponsor for Super Bowl Live, the official NFL fan experience, the brand has partnered to produce a nine- day festival in the lead up to the Super Bowl.

Its focus is to generate a deeper connection amongst over a million attending prospects and customers expected to travel to the city for the game and accompanying festivities. This nine-day celebration of the host city promises free concerts by the biggest names in music, the best of Houston’s acclaimed food scene and a host of NFL experience fan games. As part of the festival, Verizon will use NASA to deliver a world first via its ‘Future Flight’ activation.

The VR drop-tower experience provides participants with a few seconds of weightlessness to simulate a virtual journey to Mars and back. Other brands such as Hyundai and Pepsico are also looking to leverage opportunities at the legendary Super Bowl parties, with the latter partnering with the 62,500 square-foot, three story pop-up Club Nomadic which will include headline performances from global talent including Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. 

Brands are choosing to invest in live experiences over TV ads this year because of the return on investment they deliver. Marketers quite rightly believe that they will get more time and attention from their target audiences by delivering a brand experience that you can use to create, share and produce content via online and social. 

While you give fans a unique and engaging experience they can participate in, you can ensure that social media is awash with user generated content – which can deliver a far better return than a multi-million dollar 30-second TV ad, shown once during a four-hour game. After such phenomenal growth in the brand experience sector in the past year, it’s great to see this being replicated at one of the biggest events in the marketing calendar.

With this rise set to continue, expect to see plenty of brave brands taking a different or complementary approach and investing some of their Super Bowl marketing spend on activation and amplification at the greatest show on earth this year and beyond. 

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