The Big Game Battle of the Brands

By Brendan Corcoran / 02.07.2018

The big game is bigger than a game. It is, at the least, culturally significant. Mostly, it’s a competition larger than the two teams actually playing the big game. Football’s biggest stage is shared with competing brands who pay big money for the rare opportunity of your undivided attention.

The 52nd edition featured a myriad of tricks and trends that signify a shift in brand spending and strategy on the big game.

(Photo Credit SB Nation)

Brands Buying Multiple Spots
We now know the big game was a Tide ad. Masterfully done, Tide was able to take over the entire event with a few spots that left you thinking any commercial could be a Tide ad. This was a strategic insight that paid off and I would bet on a sales increase in the months proceeding.

Anheuser-Busch is always a big player, buying up multiple spots for various brand properties under their umbrella. It was another strong showing from the beer king, who are undeniably part of the big game fabric as much a sectional sofa at your viewing party. Some analysts say the return for Anheuser-Busch outweighs the exorbitant cost.

Keeping it Playful

With the exception of Dodge and Blacture, brands stayed away from political and social issues – a notable alteration from last year’s show piece. In terms of approval ratings, the move was successful. In this way, brands kept in the spirit of the big game, choosing to mostly keep it light and playful.

(Photo Credit

Activating Advertisements and Bringing the Brand to Life

This is one of the biggest events of the year, the experiential component was always going to become more important as brands buy into the experience economy. Pepsi, who lead with their “Pepsi Generations” advertisements, activated a pop-up, creating environments that transported attendees to different time periods with vintage-era vending machines and packaging to dial up nostalgia. Other brands like StubHub and Polaris had big weeks with their activation spaces. The trends as a whole correlate to larger marketing trends where brands shift marketing dollars from traditional media into events and experiences. And as far as events go, there’s none bigger than the big game.

Overall this was another great year both on the field and off for our friends in the marketing industry. Time will tell whether the huge investments paid for a few days of exposure will pay off, but we know from the past that if done right, a win during the big game can deliver ROI far after the final whistle is blown.

Watch the Spot we produced for Express Employment Professionals for the Big Game!

Horsepower from ITC on Vimeo.

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AdWeek – 5 Best Ads of the Superbowl
Ad Week – Every Ad is a Tide Ad
CNN – Super Bowl Commercials
Chicago Tribune – Some Super Bowl Ads Are Worth The Price

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