By Stacy Cyr
The Super Bowl is coming up, and while many are excited for the game, many of us are more interested in the commercials (and possibly the Puppy Bowl).
The Super Bowl may seem like it’s all about big business because of the absurd amount of money spent on advertising. With its astronomical prices for a 30-second spot reaching $5 million, most small businesses can’t begin to cover a fraction of that amount with their budgets for the entire year.
However, just because you don’t have the means to advertise during the game, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the event as a marketing opportunity. Here’s how four small businesses used the Super Bowl to run successful attention-grabbing campaigns:
Gardiners Furniture & Mattress
This Baltimore-based furniture store gained widespread publicity for its 2013 Super Bowl promotion. The promotion was simple: if the Ravens returned a kickoff for a touchdown, any furniture purchased in the days leading up to the game would be free.
Although Gardiners gave away $600,000 in free merchandise to lucky customers, the promotion was still a success; the company’s insurance covered most of the cost so monetary losses were minimal. In the end, Gardiners increased the number of new customers in the door, saw more purchases even after the promotion, and had both local and national media sharing the story.
The CopyKat campaign was on a much smaller scale, but still provides a successful example of creating a campaign around the Super Bowl. CopyKat is an online resource for recipes that allows people to “copy” popular dishes from well-known restaurants. The company has been successful in building an online community of food lovers and it used this to its advantage.
The promotion called on CopyKat’s large community to submit original, unpublished Super Bowl recipes. The recipes were narrowed down and voted on, and the winners received various home-cooking items.
This campaign ended up being successful because it created buzz for the company website and a community of cooking enthusiasts got very involved.
While Heineken is not necessarily a small business, its Newcastle Brown Ale made the most of its inability to afford a Super Bowl advertising spot. Instead of paying $4.5 million for an ad spot (on top of the cost of making an ad worthy of the Super Bowl), the company created a social campaign using celebrities (including Anna Kendrick) to make fun of the fact that it couldn’t afford it. Newcastle was the most talked about ad of the Super Bowl, and it didn’t even air during the game!
Technically, GoldieBlox did run an ad during the 2015 Super Bowl. It was the lucky winner of Intuit’s Small Business Big Game contest. The annual contest asks small businesses across the country to submit entries explaining what they do and why they do it for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid ad spot during the game.
While there are thousands of entries and the chances of winning are low, the popularity of the contest could get your small business some national attention if you make it to the public voting rounds.
How to Win the Super Bowl
While most small businesses don’t have the means to hire a celebrity or have the widespread appeal to have a chance of winning the Intuit contest, take a hint from the ingenuity of CopyKat and Gardiners. While it may not be advisable to give away $600,000 in merchandise, running Super Bowl-themed promotions and contests can be easy and affordable to implement, and are sure to get your business attention.
IMPORTANT: Do keep in mind that the term “Super Bowl” is officially trademarked by the NFL, and using it in your ads and marketing collateral without permission could potentially land your business in hot water. (Read about creative ways some big brands have gotten around this.)