Maximizing Your Superbowl Investment

With just about two months before Super Bowl XLV (or the “Big Game” if you don’t have the promotional rights to say Super Bowl), brand plans for Dallas-week are in full swing. Countless companies will launch new products and campaigns because of the heightened media commitment and fan interest. With so many companies crowding the marketplace, brands often use celebrities/athletes to differentiate themselves and get noticed. Here are several tips to accomplish those goals at the Super Bowl:

1. Know Your Milestones…
A brand can’t just go and hire any celebrity as their endorser, they have to be relevant. So who’s relevant at the Super Bowl? Well, this year it’s being played in Dallas so the marketability of former Cowboys greats like Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, coach Jimmy Johnson, Moose Johnston and others increase. Also, you should know that the upcoming NFL Hall of Fame class is announced the day before the Super Bowl so any HOF shoo-ins make great spokespeople in and around Super Bowl Week– they’re already in town (save travel costs) and the media wants to talk to them. This year’s class may include Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders. The 2011 Super Bowl will also mark the 20th Anniversary of one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played, the (in)famous “Wide Right” game won by the New York Giants. We wouldn’t be surprised to see former quarterback Phil Simms and other Giants players popping up throughout Super Bowl Week (as well as appearances by Jim Kelly, the losing QB for the Buffalo Bills in that game). Also, the game serves as the 25th Anniversary of the Chicago Bears famous Super Bowl win (MVP of that game was Richard Dent).

2. Scheduling…
It’s great to have a relevant athlete/celebrity endorser, but if they’re doing media and PR for multiple brands it can take away from your brand’s message. Some talent are able to book endless interviews even on back-to-back days, but brands need to be careful so they do not dilute your messaging. If your spokesperson is plugging multiple brands during the week, make sure your “media  day” is first to ensure your brand gets coverage and is not mistaken for another program. Add “media exclusivity” language in your contracts for protection. Also, consider using the talent on Monday after the Game when everyone is tuning in to listen to recaps (this day is underused by brands).

2a. Scheduling II…
The Super Bowl media locations are spread out this year. The media center is in downtown Dallas and the ESPN compound is in Fort Worth. If you have limited time with your spokesperson, make sure to lump in-town interviews together based on location.

3. Marketing for a Cause…
One thing we’ve noticed during Super Bowl Week is how many brands are now aligning themselves with causes or some kind of social responsibility initiative. It’s been truly amazing to see the brand messaging take a backseat to the cause messaging. We see it a lot with alcohol companies (currently, the messaging for Crown Royal & former Dallas Cowboys Coach & FOX Analyst Jimmy Johnson). Expect to see it with beer companies and consumer packaged goods companies at the Game too.

4. Spread The Word…
We’ve been saying this for a while now, but let us say it again, social media is a great marketing tool for celebrity-based programs. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s engaging. Be sure to enlist talent who has significant social media assets. Below is a sampling of athletes, coaches and broadcasters relevant to the Super Bowl space that engage with twitter:

5. Pay For Value…
You do not need to overpay for talent at the Super Bowl. The difference between A–, B– and C–list celebrities are minimized because of the attention and willingness of the media to have all the athletes and celebrities on their air. Brands still need to hire the best level talent that your budget affords but you do not need to spend extra during this week.

Enjoy the “Big Game”!

David Schwab is the managing director of Octagon First Call, a company that consults brands and their marketing agencies on the best ways to use celebrity/athletes in marketing campaigns. For more information, check out or @david_schwab.

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  • Anonymous

    Interesting post. The only point that I see as a folly of advice is hanging your hat on someone with a large Twitter following. While the endorsements seem like a no brainer with the Super Bowl, celebrities often do little to move the needle for companies when they hawk something on Twitter.

    CNN recently ran: Do tweets change your behavior? using celebs with much bigger followings for little gain. Do you have numbers that suggest otherwise?

    I would almost think that it makes more sense to throw a party or event rather than dumping money into Twitter, where an ill-fated Tweet can tie back to your brand. Just think about Wrangler with Favre.

    • Jeff,

      Social media is one component to a marketing campaign. It’s just important to recognize some of the Super Bowl-friendly celebrities have followings while others do not. It is very easy to look at how talent interacts with their fans/follows and incorporate that into the campaign. It’s one of a number of factors when making a selection; relevance, conflicts, pricing, etc.

      PS – you are dumping money into twitter either. It is part of the celebrity’s assets. You are not paying for that….I would never recommend a company hire a celebrity for tweeting purposes only. It’s just one part of a multi-faceted campaign.

      • Anonymous

        The folly I see is looking at follower numbers in any manner as they are arbitrary and can be bought are are followed by bots or inactive accounts.

        I would also note that unless Tweeting is in the contract or if the player is not getting paid for X people into the event its something that cannot be counted on as an online impression. There is no such thing as a free lunch, unless you are Bengals fan going to where the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson is picking up the tab, but even that didn’t drive too many people and folks knew he was going to do it.