Early Released Ads Impacting the Big Game Experience

Each year brands pay millions of dollars to advertise a commercial during the Big Game. They understand that 100+ million people will be watching and unlike many other football games this audience is more than just football fans; it’s a global audience who don’t want to miss out on one of the biggest events of the year.

Digital graphic of football helmets and football on a football field with stadium lights

Understandably, brands try to make themselves stand out from the competition and over the years that has evolved in many forms. In the last few years most of the Big Game commercials have been released in full or with teasers weeks in advance to build up hype for the event and their brands spot. It starts a conversation online with people sharing, blogging, and debating their commercial. With a $5 million price tag marketers want to get out as much as they possibly can with their advertisement.

Regardless if fans agree with this change or not this trend isn’t going away. Over 20 brands have pre-released content for the Big Game this year, and more are expected closer to kick-off. Many advertisers are taking a page out of the NFL’s book as they try to make the Big Game a month-long event. Instead of hoping their ad gets people rushing to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or various other social platforms the day of and after the Big Game, brands are using the weeks leading up to the event to get their name into conversations. Getting consumers interested weeks in advance can only help drive traffic to the brand. Of course, they still hope their commercial is the one everyone is talking about after the Big Game but getting the additional media coverage and searches is a huge plus for many advertisers.

There are many positives to releasing your ads early. Firstly, you can gauge the consumer response to the ad and determine if the Big Game commercial will be a success. There is an option to always switch ads or modify the ad to fix any negative backlash. For example, 84 lumber had to modify their ad and remove a section of their ad because it was rejected by the network for being too political. However, the real issue with their ad was that no one knew what they were trying to say, and it was one of the lowest performing ads despite it driving a lot of conversations. They were forced to release the full footage after the Big Game and explain it. However, they could’ve released sections of the story leading up to the big game where their intended message would be. Secondly, teasers work great because they create a cliffhanger that leaves consumers wanting to know how it ends. This helps drive conversations around people trying to figure it out and actively waiting for it to air. Lastly, it extends the life of your campaign. It allows more time for your ad to be seen and for consumers to be reached. This is crucial for brands that are trying to convert new customers.

There are in fact a few negatives when brands continue this trend of pre-releasing their Big Game promotions. The obvious being the fact that the excitement for big game commercials is decreasing as many fans have already seen the ads. However, since the Big Game is more of a social event than a sporting event, not everyone is watching TV when the game isn’t on. Releasing the ad ahead of schedule helps brands make sure their ad is seen. However, this also creates uncertainty for brands. Do you want to be like everyone else and release your ad early or wait and be the surprise of the Big Game? There are also questions of how to release your content. Full ad or a teaser? Some companies have even allowed consumers to choose what airs. In 2013, Audi released 3 versions of an ending to their commercial and had fans vote on which one would air during the game. Although the content wouldn’t be new, consumers were excited because they didn’t know which one it will be. No matter what your brand decides, careful thought must be put into the execution of your marketing efforts. The Big Game is a big chance to get your brand noticed. It isn’t cheap, you better make it count.

We will continue to see the evolution of the Big Game campaign. Maybe we see more live commercials like Snickers in 2017 or interactive commercials like Coke in 2013 where they had consumers choose the ad that aired after releasing teasers. At the end of the day only a handful of brands will garner the spotlight, what trends will we notice this year?