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Superbowl XLVIII – The Big Daddy of live events

I’ll be honest: I’m not mad on American Football – and I can say that as a Brit having been to see a game live in the States. But there are certain aspects of the NFL that they absolutely nail way better than any other sport (like social media, as illustrated in this sweet infographic by Visually) and who doesn’t love fireworks and hotdog canons?!

Last Sunday night saw Superbowl XLVIII, the 48th edition of this marketing Mecca, take to centre stage between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos (SPOILER ALERT: Seattle won 43-8, their first ever Vince Lombardi title). But I didn’t tune in to see the game, like my Canadian cousins I switched on with one thing in mind: To see the World’s biggest brands duke it out with limitless funds to win the hearts and minds of consumers in the half time ad-break.

I think it would be fair to say it was not a disappointment, and with ad space for the Superbowl costing upwards of $133,000 a second, I would expect not to be as well! As always there were some brilliant ads and some that, to be polite, weren’t so great. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds about that, but there were several aspects each of these ads all had in common apart from appearing during the same event.

So what can we learn from these heavyweights and apply to exhibitions and live events?

  • Veni, Vidi, Vici”: Possibly the most famous quote from the World’s most renowned campaigner. The point being that Caesar’s success was built around his campaigns – not isolated banditry. Beyond invading, he integrated these pre-existing colonies into Roman life opposed to beating them around the head with what he wanted them to be. Ok, I admit that this is quite an abstract example (and there may have been a certain amount of beating around the head) but I’m getting there: instead of jumping in with both feet straight into promotion, you need to build a campaign to support it and give it context. An excellent example was Ellen DeGeneres integrating the ad she supported in her own TV show prior to the event. So if you’re attending an event, or even putting one on, make sure your supporting campaign is targeted where your target market is. This may sound obvious but when you launch the body of your campaign you don’t want it to be an advertising belly flop trying to get everyone who happens to be in the splash zone at the time.


  • “Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing”: Being a European and watching these US centric ads illustrated quite how different the markets are. I will take the example of the Audi of America ad (click here and scroll down) in contrast to what I’m used to (click here). The US ad was far more “blunt” for want of a better term, opposed to the European ad which relied far more on the power of suggestion. To sum it up I will us a quote from a blog Silverpop discussing the same topic (although this is about B2B, I believe it equally applies to B2C): “One of the keys to great B2B marketing is having a strong sales culture. All of our panellists agreed that selling is more ingrained in the United States, with greater pride there in the art of selling. As Joel Harrison put it: Sales is more open and direct… which means buyers are more open to this approach.” That’s not to say I’m finding fault with the US ads, in fact I applaud Audi for not being arrogant enough to impose a European style ad on a US market. However, that does mean that we need to be careful when selling services, or taking events, on the road to new markets and not be surprised when the “That’s what we’ve always done” technique fails. Research is key!!

So that’s my brief look at the Superbowl. I couldn’t help myself, I was feeling inspired! Which ad was your favourite? What challenges have you encountered with international marketing? Get in touch and let us know!

(FYI – The Jaguar ad was by far the best on the night!)