Top Super Bowl marketing lessons

These big game reminders are relevant year-round

Worrying about the effectiveness of your Super Bowl spot is what’s known as a “good problem to have.” You’re working in rarefied marketing air if you’re able to find a spare $4.5 million in your departmental couch cushions (some departments can’t even afford a couch). Some of the marketing lessons of the past week, then, only apply to a tiny sliver of marketing departments.

Other lessons, though, are more universal, and will resonate throughout the year.

Don’t forget the call to action

You’ve made them laugh, you’ve made them cry… now what? Surprisingly, a lot of Super Bowl advertisers overlooked this step.

“A whopping 51 percent of advertisers elected to simply run their ad without asking viewers to do anything with a call-to-action,” Salesforce’s Jeff Rohrs wrote in Adweek. “Folks, I’m sorry, but this was marketing malpractice.”

With the explosion of second screen usage, it’s theoretically easier than ever to get a captive TV audience to take the next step in getting to know your brand. Ideally, that next step should involve a level of engagement beyond merely chucking a sponsored hashtag into a tweet.

“You need consumers to buy, opt-in, subscribe, amplify—anything to make your ad last beyond its 30 seconds,” Rohrs roared. (He probably didn’t roar when he wrote that, but it makes for a better sentence, no?)

The stakes won’t always be as high as they are when you’re trying to get ROI for a $4.5 million commercial, but those stakes are always in place, even when you’re just sending a newsletter or writing a blog post.

On a related note, we’d love to send you our best articles every month.

Collaborate with someone who will shake you out of your comfort zone

The ads that earned the most love from viewers and jaded industry observers alike? they tended to fall into one of three categories: heartfelt stuff (pets, dads), quirky celebrity stuff (Brady Bunch, Liam Neeson) and unexpected twists.

With 30 seconds of goofy dancers, Loctite encouraged consumers to think about glue in a new way. Conventional wisdom would probably have led to a campaign built around fixing a priceless heirloom or marveling over the adhesive power of the product. Actually, conventional wisdom probably would have screamed “Super Bowl viewers don’t care about glue! Save your money!” Instead, the company’s agency partner pitched a campaign built around triumph, and successfully used its 30-second spot to get people talking and taking the next steps of engagement.

That’s inspiring collaboration.

Loctite’s competitors were nowhere to be found during the game; rather than taking that as a warning sign, the company used it to its advantage. If another glue company had rolled out a quirky spot, it may have been difficult to remember which glue company was the glue company you liked.

The morale of the story: expect a bunch of advertisements for adhesives next year.

Be aggressive! B-E aggressive!

Loctite got a little testy when it realized that anyone searching Twitter for “Loctite” was potentially being intercepted by sponsored tweets from Budweiser.

If you know where the conversation is taking place, you have a chance to crash the conversation. Marketers can apply this same strategy to try to poach customers from potentially deeper-pocketed competitors. If you bid too aggressively, you run the risk of alienating your audience; people who are searching for “Loctite” are almost certainly not trying to information about beechwood aged beer.

Oh, and Loctite, for the record, used mobile search ads to try to nab traffic coming from keyword searches for BMW, TurboTax and other advertisers. Glass houses, Loctite.

Have a keen understanding of time and place

To paraphrase Kenny Rogers: you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to air a commercial about dead children, know when to run.

While Nationwide’s intentions may have been noble (“the sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance,” the company said in a statement), its ad landed with a thud. Some marketing pros are predicting it will go down as one of the all-time misfires. At the party I attended, people actually screamed “What?” and “Why?!?” at the television—which, as it turned out, was helpful practice for when the Seahawks threw the ball at the end of the game.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.