What You Can Learn from PepsiCo’s Super Bowl Strategy
Written by Joy Beachy
Like us, you probably don’t have an extra $4.5 million dollars to blow on a Super Bowl ad this year, and probably that wasn’t even a goal. But for some of the biggest names in the business, creating a commercial for an audience of over 100 million people is the pinnacle of their year, and they have the strategies to match. While you might not be throwing your hat in the ring for any Super Bowl sponsorships any time soon, there are a few things any business can learn from such a big advertising spend.
First, some Super Bowl advertisers have gotten wise to building up content and excitement before game day. Doritos is a famous example of this, inviting fans to create their own videos and vote on which should be shown during their time slot. (You can view the finalists of this “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign here.) Budweiser has been building its story of puppy and Clydesdale love for three years over a succession of Super Bowl ads. They keep the story going with a dynamic page on their website, pulling in social media posts related to the story line, “best buds.”
While these are great examples of crowd sourcing content to build excitement around a story or brand, there’s another strategy that’s not as commonly examined, and that’s of PepsiCo and the NFL. The Business Insider just released an article talking about their relationship, and it brought out a uniquely beneficial quality often overlooked:
“Basically, on and around the big game, PepsiCo’s massive marketing program drives traffic into stores. Retailers love this and offer up more shelf space and coveted end-of-aisle slots. PepsiCo sells more products. It’s a perfect circle. But it’s something that can only come out of its brand’s already-strong associations with the NFL — something many brand advertisers simply don’t and likely never will have so long as PepsiCo continues its relationship with the league.
Lowden adds: ‘The NFL would say their best partner, without a doubt, is PepsiCo. We are three years into a 10-year deal. With that comes enormous trust and planning: We started planning Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco a year ago. We plan together and become part of the brand team.’” Read the full article: Pepsi Tells Us Why A Super Bowl Ad Should Never Be Just A One-Off.
PepsiCo didn’t follow the model of buying a 30 second ad space, then work to build excitement around the ad that would show there. Instead, they created a tight alliance that benefitted the primary demand supplier (Super Bowl), the advertiser (PepsiCo), and the secondary demand supplier (grocery and convenience stores).
The critical element is PepsiCo’s relationship with the NFL. As noted in the article, the NFL and PepsiCo plan the ad strategy together. They share target audience information, such as what motivates people to catch the game, or what prompts them to purchase certain snacks and drinks. They create an environment in which both brands have something to gain from the other’s success.
This is the optimum advertising relationship, and with the power of digital technology, this kind of relationship is becoming easier for publishers and brand managers to initiate. For digital publishers specifically, you have more insight into reader behavior than ever before with the metrics attached to every digital edition. You can see trends in reading choices, time spent per article, affinity for particular media pieces, and more. You can use this information to start helping advertisers craft messages that will resonate with your particular readers. Smart advertisers will appreciate being given the opportunity to cater to a target audience rather than casting a wide net and hoping to interest someone. Similarly, as readers get more value from your publication, including the ads, they’ll start to increase their engagement with and enthusiasm for your publication.
Rather than selling ad space, start looking for ways you can extend your contracts through promoting partnership and becoming a part of a brand team with your advertisers. By forming a tight, symbiotic partnership with your advertisers, you