How to hijack the Super Bowl’s buzz on a budget 🏈
The new trend of 'Anti Super Bowl' you should know before February 11
Super Bowl ads are mind-blowingly expensive.
But what if I told you that the best Super Bowl commercials are NOT even in the Super Bowl? Welcome to ⛔ Anti Super Bowl ⛔ campaigns, where you create buzz around the Superbowl without actually being a part of it.
And guess what? You don’t need to burn your entire marketing budget on a single ad.
DoorDash’s campaign is the perfect example of this:
Next week, DoorDash will buy EVERY product advertised during the Super Bowl, delivering them to one lucky viewer. Everything - from luxury cars to 100” TVs. To win, simply catch the secret magic word (revealed during halftime) and enter it on a special website they put up.
By the way, I checked the T&C and DoorDash estimates it’ll cost them up to $480,000. They excluded real estate ads 😜
This is clever because DoorDash created an ‘Anti’ Super Bowl activity that engages people during the ad break, pulling focus away from the actual commercials.
Now, you may think ‘OK but DoorDash had to buy an ad slot!’ — but it doesn’t have to be this way:
A few years ago, Volvo asked people to tweet and tag the person they’d give a Volvo to during any car ad in the Superbowl. The #VolvoContest hashtag on Twitter exploded, with over 55,000 tweets during the break (2,000 per minute!).
The brilliant part? Volvo didn’t need to buy airtime during the Super Bowl – they capitalized on the attention given to competitors' ads. Esurance had a similar campaign as well.
This is exactly what I mean by 'Anti Super Bowl’.
It’s all about doing something around the Super Bowl commercial break, to hijack it and make your audience do stuff, without having to pay the ad networks millions of $$$.
But my BEST example of ‘Anti Super Bowl’? 🍭
Skittles staged a real Broadway show during the Super Bowl ad break. They hired famous Broadway actors who were having a night off because of the game (like Michael C. Hall) and put up a musical about Skittles. The show lasted as long as the commercial break. This meant no one missed a thing.
Again, the key is doing some activity that revolves around the commercial break, without participating in it. Here, Skittles simply gave people a fun alternative to watching the ad break.
🧪 Your Anti-Superbowl Playbook
How can you do it yourself? Here are some actionable, budget-friendly ideas for your own Anti-Superbowl campaign:
🕹️ Tactic #1: Create a Game
Use social media to create a challenge (or a game) for the ad break. For instance, ask your audience to count how many times “AI” is mentioned in ads and offer a prize for the right answer. Or create a bingo sheet featuring brands you expect to advertise and let people compete.
🍄 Tactic #2: Alternative Entertainment
Here, the goal is to give your audience something else to do during the break. No need to stage an entire Broadway show — why not host a livestream Q&A with industry experts during the break? For example, if you’re in MarTech, host a quick 15-minute session with Seth Godin or another marketing celebrity (it’ll still be cheaper than having an actual ad).
🤯 Tactic #3: Your Own Super Bowl Ad*
(*Not on TV.) Create a 30-second video and share it on social media during the Super Bowl. Label it cheekily as your ‘Super Bowl ad’. I promise you that 90% of your audience will think you aired something on TV. It’s sneaky, but you’re not lying.
💸 Insider Tips
Lastly, if you’re planning on an actual Super Bowl ad, know this:
Regional Ads: Did you know you can air Super Bowl ads in specific regions for less? You can air them only in NY or CA (for example) for cheap. It’s a great way to boost your brand’s perceived value (“We had a Super Bowl ad!”) for a low price.
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Be bold this Sunday! I’m rooting for Usher. I’m pretty sure he will generate more buzz with his half-time performance than any other ad. And if Taylor Swift surprises and performs too — it will break the internet. 💥
P.S. Can someone challenge an advertiser to feature a product that’s out of DoorDash’s budget estimate? Like a SpaceX rocket – it will go viral!
P.P.S. Just like you don’t need to buy Super Bowl ads, you also don’t need to sponsor events & conferences to hijack their audience. Here’s a guide I wrote on that.
See you next week,
Shout-out to my friend Inbal for helping with the research of this marketing idea.