Super-Bowl Commercials Through a Marketer's Eyes

If you watch the game's ads with your marketing glasses on, you can get more than a whoosh of entertainment.

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By Karen Tiber Leland


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's no secret that many people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the competition. By viewing the upcoming spots with your marketing glasses on, you can walk away with a whole host of branding and marketing moves for your business.

"Small businesses may not be advertising during the big game, but we all have our Super Bowls: that trade show, the ad in the newspaper or the feature on the local news," says Conner Galway, director at Junction Creative Solutions, a Vancouver, B.C., marketing communications firm.

Here are some marketing pointers to watch for when you sit down for the big game on Sunday.

Use 'leveraged credibility.'
Being associated with a prestigious brand can increase your own audience engagement, says Sheri Bridges, professor and faculty director for the Center for Retail Innovation at the Wake Forest University School of Business in Winston-Salem, N.C. "The elite image associated with the Super Bowl stimulates an 'eagle effect.' If a brand can fly high with the other eagles, it must be good," he says.

Related: The Key to Successful Marketing: Your Unique Selling Proposition

Consider this year's ad by clothing company Gildan Activewear, which will be running their first-time Super Bowl spot. Although a publicly traded company, Gildan by no means has the same brand recognition as Nike. But by hitching its wagon to the Super Bowl, it can increase its name recognition and transfer the positive feelings associated with game day to its brand.

Who could your business associate with to give your brand a positive bump?

Invite people to act across platforms.
With a nod to social media, many of the ads are available online, in part or whole, before game day. These teasers -- such as the Taco Bell spot featuring a geriatric gentleman gone wild on the playing field -- garner the audience's attention for the brand in advance. Likewise the Skechers teaser "Man vs. Cheetah" ad ends with the enticing "Watch the big game to see how the chase ends."

Brands also use crowdsourcing to create buzz. Take for example, the "Doritos Crash the Super Bowl" video contests, where viewers are invited to submit their homemade Doritos commercials.

Related: Big-Brand Results with Small-Business Budgets

The fun doesn't stop once the event is over. The best ads extend their reach for weeks and even months after the game. Galway points out that the best strategies are those that include post-event action.

"Super Bowl commercials are one touch point in an ongoing conversation, and they encourage a follow-up action," says Galway.

The key is giving people the opportunity to act. Some of the most interesting and engaging advertisements can fall flat because people don't know what to do with them. Make it clear to people what you want them to do so that they will be able to act on the positive impression that you've just made on them, he says.

Now that you know what to look for, grab a beer and set out the guacamole and chips. Let the games begin.

Related: How to Tell Your Company's Story

Karen Tiber Leland

Author and President of Sterling Marketing Group

Karen Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps entrepreneurs and executives build stronger personal, team and business brands. She is also the best-selling author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.

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