With Super Bowl ads getting pricier, NFL sponsors are relying more on promotions to score brand awareness.
Look for more action on the sidelines of Super Bowl XXXV this year. With ad rates – and clutter – climbing, marketers are drafting plans for more promotion to maximize their tie-ins.
CBS is asking $2.5 million for a 30-second spot, up from an average $2.2 million last year. (It’s first asking price was $1.8 million.) The game is known as an ad showcase, but brand recall is often weak. To compensate, many of the NFL’s 30 official sponsors take the game to the aisles and the streets.
“The Super Bowl continues to become more of a national holiday every year,” says NFL vp-corporate sponsorship Steve Phelps. The league keeps its roster to around 30 sponsors “so we don’t create a clutter issue,” he says. Promos are “a way for sponsors to separate themselves from [game] advertisers,” and many create campaigns unique to their brands, Phelps adds. “They’re pushing us very hard to make sure elements in the sponsorship package work hard for them,” asking for more space on superbowl.com and nfl.com as well as air time on non-game programs, he says.
Here’s a preview of what’s in the works for the pigskin finale.
Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola Kraft and Coke will team for the second year with a national sweepstakes awarding trips to the game and a menu of customized local promos for retailers. “It’s a way for retailers to own a small piece of the property,” says Ric Noreen, Kraft director of customer marketing.
Fans enter the sweeps through a toll-free number; grand-prize winners attend the game next month, not next year. An under-the-cap overlay could produce 39 million winners. Kraft’s own food & family FSI in January pitches the sweeps and joint offers on Coke and Kraft products like DiGiorno pizza, sandwich items including Miracle Whip, Oscar Mayer, and Kraft Singles, and ingredient brands like Velveeta and Taco Bell. Integer Group, Golden, CO, is lead agency.
Working with Coke’s direct-store delivery system gives Kraft a leg up on lobby and secondary displays, says Kelly Cunningham, Kraft director of sales planning and programming. Coke and Kraft sales reps learned how to coordinate efforts last year, and build on that experience this year.
Campbell Soup Co. Chunky Soup appears at the game as part of the brand’s Tackling Hunger Tour 2000, a six-month mobile campaign that wraps up at the NFL Experience fan event on Super Bowl weekend. Campbell donates 2,000 cans of food for every touchdown throughout the season, and expects to donate five million cans this year. Its truck brings games like the Chunky Chariot (a shopping cart on roller coaster-style track) and Armchair Quarterback (throw foam balls at a TV while strapped into a lounge chair) to tailgate events. The College Kit, Hanover, NH, handles.
Campbell looms large at the game because “we don’t just take the NFL shield and put it on an FSI,” says Jacqueline McBratnie, senior consumer promotions manager. “We activate our NFL sponsorship on every level.” That includes weighing linemen on giant soup spoons as they report to training camp, then donating their weight in soup to local charities.
Miller Brewing Miller makes its classic inflatable chair the star of a Miller Lite Super Bowl Central campaign, and will get thousands of chairs to fans by game day. A January sweeps (at retail and online) will award the chairs; grand prize is a home theater, $10,000, and enough chairs to host a Super Bowl party. Zipatoni, St. Louis, handles.
Ads broke in November starring a quartet of fans who cheer from their inflatable chairs in unlikely places – watching a neighbor trim her hedges, and at a science lecture as they chant “DNA! DNA!” Promo-specific spots break next month via Ogilvy & Mather, New York City. Miller also will host Super Bowl Central parties in the home towns of the two competing teams, doling out tickets to fans. GMR Marketing, New Berlin, WI, handles.
The beer maker kicked off the promotions in September by sponsoring ESPN’s NFL Prime Time highlights show. A watch-and-win sweeps that ran the first eight weeks of the season gave away tickets to the big game.
“A lot of attention is paid to the ads that run during the game, but the Super Bowl is really a season-long passion,” says Miller spokesperson Scott Bussen. “This year, we thought, `Why not take advantage of what only we can do all season?’” (Budweiser sponsors season games, but not the Super Bowl.) Retailers like turning their stores into Super Bowl Central, Bussen adds.
CNS CNS will sample a new kids’ version of Breathe Right nasal strips through a Kids Make the Call campaign in Tampa, FL, site of the next Super Bowl. Sampling teams will ask kids to predict which team will win, then give them a free strip with that team’s colors. Their predictions will be announced in a kid-run press conference four days before the game.
Samplers in football uniforms will blitz central Florida the week before the game to put strips on kids’ noses (with moms’ permission, of course). If successful, Minneapolis-based CNS will sample nationally. “It’s active sampling, a little bit of street theater,” says director of marketing services Leah Stevenson. BSMG, Chicago, handles with an assist from Santa Monica, CA-based sister agency EMP on the sampling activity.
The star-patterned kid strips shipped in July and got help from a national FSI in October. A co-branded Vicks mentholated strip (for adults and kids) gets a spot in Vicks’ January FSI as well as broadcast activity support.
What other Super Bowl sponsors are doing.
Castrol: Buy a case of motor oil, get a free team watch. Drive Hard to the Super Bowl sweeps at castrol.com awards tickets to the game.
DirecTV and Visa: Customers who sign up for automatic bill payment on DirecTV.com are entered in sweeps awarding trip for two to the game, $500 Visa stored-value cards, and officially licensed NFL jackets.
E&J Gallo Wineries: Gossamer Bay sweeps on SuperBowl.com awards game tickets, RCA TVs, and NFL Shop discounts.
E superscript *Trade: Title sponsor of the halftime show and Road to the Super Bowl program will contribute to Super Bowl hospitality.
FedEx: A weekly sweeps running in USA Today lets fans predict that week’s leading NFL rusher and passer. Official sponsor of NFL Experience will contribute toward Super Bowl and Pro Bowl hospitality.
Gatorade: Regional sweeps for eight-packs awards trips to the game, including a ride to and from the stadium in Gatorade Hummers, tickets to NFL Experience, and a Gatorade Cooler autographed by the winning team.
Hershey: National sweeps gives winner a chance to win $1 million by kicking a field goal at halftime.
Hershey and Southwest Airlines: Fans collect Hershey wrappers to earn free travel from Southwest. Wrappers reveal a varying number of “yards” which are redeemed for Southwest travel vouchers. All participants are entered in a drawing for a trip for two to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.
Miller Lite: Title sponsor of SuperBowl.com creates commemorative cans. During each of the first eight weeks of the season, fans are entered at millerlite.com to win a pair of Super Bowl tickets and other prizes, courtesy of Miller Lite and ESPN.
Southwest Airlines: Sweeps at southwestairlines.com awards a trip for 11 to the game, lunch with ESPN’s Chris Berman and NFL players, tickets to NFL Experience, and NFL merchandise.
Sunny Delight: Instant-win sweeps on two-liter or 64-oz. bottles and 12-pack cans awards trips to the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl.
Wheaties: Super Bowl collectable box will be distributed regionally.
Players, Inc. lets fans – and sponsors – play with athletes.
The Washington, DC-based licensing and marketing arm of the NFL Players Association hosts the 989 Sports NFL Players Party, a three-day fest that’s second only to the league’s NFL Experience among Super Bowl-sanctioned events. This year, Players, Inc. takes over the Cuban Club in Tampa’s trendy Ybor City section for ticket giveaways, videogames (title sponsor 989 Sports provides new games on Sony PlayStation 2 kiosks), pool (from sponsor Diamond Billiards), music, and entertainment -maybe even a fashion show with players on the runway, courtesy of Code Magazine. Fans pay $5 to $25 to rub elbows with players. Past parties have hosted as many as 30,000 people. (With a smaller venue and adults-only focus, Players, Inc. expects fewer this year.)
The association’s annual Stay Cool in School program has 12,000 fifth-graders in Hillsborough County, FL, vying to attend a clinic with 25 current and retired NFL players. Kids earn points for attendance and good behavior, then compete in an essay contest to get on the “starting lineup.” Game maker Wizards of the Coast, Renton, WA, is presenting sponsor. Players, Inc. may take the school contest national.