Super Bowl Ads: 3 Things iGaming Brands can Learn from the 2015 Batch of Commercials

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Digital marketing, customer engagement and responsiveness will all be front and center this Sunday

With the US’s biggest sporting event of the year little over 48 hours away at the time of this writing, one of the most intriguing stories has nothing to do with the championship match between the New England Patriots and defending champion Seattle Seahawks. Instead it has to do with digital marketing, customer engagement and the precarious value of television ad space.

What does this mean for iGaming brands? An opportunity to observe the world’s biggest brands engage audiences and leverage digital marketing in the face of questionably network TV efficacy.

Reflecting on some of the best marketing moments from last year’s Super Bowl, and considering what’s already been trending ahead of Sunday’s game, below are three strategies worthy of consideration and potential implementation by iGaming brands.

Going against the Norm

The Super Bowl used to just be a television event. And while it still very much is, it has also become something else: cross-platform. We’re still a ways away from TV ads becoming obsolete – it’s still where the game is viewed – but there are indicators that we are on course.

After last year’s “If We Made It” online campaign that touted the Mega Huge Football Ad Newcastle Brown Ale Almost Made, the brand became the most memorable benefactor of the Super Bowl hype to not actually buy TV ad space.

For many, the highlight of the campaign came with a spot featuring Anna Kendrick who, having been robbed of her chance to appear to in Newcastle’s ad, is at first playfully introspective ( “But like beer commercial hot? Am I beer commercial hot? No…but I love a challenge”) before spitefully lambasting the brand. The full spot can be seen below.

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Newcastle is back at it again in 2015. Their “Band of Brands” campaign, served to unite brands in a quest of securing enough capital to produce a Super Bowl ad that will also appear in regional TV markets. The ad, which features 37 brands, made its online debut Thursday.

iGaming brands can look to those like Newcastle for inspiration on going against the grain in both medium and messaging. Many brands are already versed in this practice but the expectation is that more will continue to join.

Creating & Responding to Opportunities

While Newcastle is a great example of leveraging certain digital marketing opportunities, others brands are taking that immersion to another level. Foremost among these is website design company and the #ItsThatEasy campaign.

The campaign is already bolstered by the presence of retired NFL stars like Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Emmitt Smith and Franco Harris, each with their own fictitious business aspirations. Not satisfied with star-power, however, the campaign took things to another level with each business getting its own fully functioning website, complete with merchandise pages (see the ad for Favre and Carve below).

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Much like one might expect from such a star-studded interactive campaign, Wix employed a team of 60 staffers to help manage the project and resulting social media traffic. This is something that iGaming brands can learn from in terms of both creativity and preparedness.

Releasing a great new product or promotion could lead to a groundswell of activity – especially online. If a brand is fortunate enough to strike gold with their initial premise and treatment, failure to prepare for the best-case response could result in worst-case scenario. Believing in the release of your ambitious idea also means being prepared for its success.

Galvanizing the Public

It’s been a while since Nissan last purchased Super Bowl ad space – 18 years to be exact. To mark their return the brand has jumped on the “Dadvertising” bandwagon. Yesha Callahan explained the trend in a recent article on The Root:
“More recently, commercials have thrown away the dumb or absent dad and are showing dads involved in their children’s everyday lives. Dads do laundry. Dads take kids to school and cook dinner. Who would have thunk it?”
You don’t need to be a historian to appreciate that marketing channels have diversified since 1997, including the addition of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Nissan is making the most of the latter with their #WithDad campaign. Although similar to Newcastle’s own cross-platform strategy, Nissan’s approach meant enlisting the help of popular “YouTubers” to create their own dad-centric pieces of content.

The tone of the #WithDad spots varies but they all pay homage to the family patriarch. Our favourite is the below video from the guys at Epic Meal Time, who put on a fatherly spin with a spot entitled “Daddy Meal Time” where they construct a meat snow racer. Seriously.

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What’s different in Nissan’s strategy is that it isn’t trying to sell its brand through its own words or those of mega celebrities. Instead it’s using popular everyday personalities that have found their niche on an even more popular medium. Nissan does get the obligatory shout-out in each advert but it does so via YouTubers whose endorsements are more likely to strike a chord with prospective customers.

iGaming brands could take a cue from Nissan’s Super Bowl ads by looking to more unlikely endorsers who are better positioned to speak to the average consumer.

These are just three overarching themes that will serve as stimuli for brands not participating in the Super Bowl frenzy. We should all be looking forward to game day when even more creative inspiration is certain to come to the fore.