How Michelob ULTRA, PepsiCo and Rakuten are approaching the Super Bowl this year

Super Bowl LVII kicks off this Sunday, and brands are finding new ways to gain exposure and drive up sales through digital channels like CTV.

Brands advertising around the game this year are adapting to changes in media consumption and shopping with new digital partnerships and campaign strategies.

Streaming and CTV advertising continue to climb

CTV and traditional linear advertising will be in close competition for ad dollars. Digital agency 

Adtaxi, a digital marketing agency, projects that the number of streaming viewers will surpass those watching the Super Bowl on broadcast and cable.

“It looks like it could be neck and neck, and of those paying attention to Super Bowl content, it looks like more will do so via streaming than broadcast or cable,” said Adtaxi Director of Research, Murry Woronoff.

The advantage that brands and agencies gain by using CTV advertising is the ability to control their ad dollars while still hitting the right demos. Instead of paying millions for a single Super Bowl ad, marketers can place ads on CTV and zero in on specific segments of any size.

“With Apple+ streaming services entering the live sports sphere, and Google getting the rights for NFL Sunday Ticket to distribute on their YouTube TV product, we could see more NFL fans switch to streaming services down the line,” said Laura Connell, consumer trends manager for consumer insights and analytics company GWI. “With price leading the list of streaming concerns, platforms like YouTube or Twitch have an unmatchable competitive advantage — their basic offerings are free, and are more likely to retain engagement, despite the current financial climate.

Dig deeper: How brands lined up on CTV for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Cross-screen viewing behaviors

“Brands don’t have to spend $7 million on a 30-second TV spot that will likely be forgotten in a few days,” said consultant Brittany Hodak. “The best payoffs are when brands create experiences around the Super Bowl in a way that lets them be a part of the conversation while still connecting with fans in an authentic way. The ROI of a strong PR​ or experience ​play that strongly connects with a subset of your audience will outweigh that of an expensive commercial that broadly speaks to millions.”

The reality is that regardless of whether viewers are watching the game on streaming or broadcast on their primary screen, over half of adults expect to follow the Super Bowl on a second digital screen, Adtaxi found. This figure, 52%, is up from 46% last year. Also, 36% of those the agency surveyed said they’ll be on social media while watching the game, and 15% will be following along on a sporting website.

“With social networks quickly becoming the leading source of information for consumers, brands have an opportunity to maximize real-time engagement on social media this Super Bowl, rather than just commercial breaks,” said Connell.

GWI’s research suggests that the segment of NFL fans who use social while watching games could be as high as 50%.

Finding shoppers before and during the Big Game

There’s a chance that fans who follow sports on multiple screens are shopping on one of them. To connect with shoppers, Michelob ULTRA partnered with Instacart for a first-of-its-kind co-marketing initiative around the Super Bowl.

“Together, we’re leveraging all of Instacart’s and Michelob ULTRA’s marketing channels — from linear TV, to our app and Marketplace, to social media, and CRM — to reach the widest possible audience,” said Instacart CMO Laura Jones. “The campaign reflects a meaningful partnership between the two brands — we’re powering Michelob ULTRA’s TV commercials with a QR code, we’ve also launched our game day essentials Pop-Up in our app and Marketplace, and we led the creative execution for our co-branded imagery. Additionally, in partnership with PepsiCo, the Michelob ULTRA page on Instacart features game day staples that pair well with ULTRA like Tostitos and classic Frito Lay chips.”

Jones added, “There’s really no other cultural moment each year like the Super Bowl that commands such strong consumer attention across the US. For us, a pre-Super Bowl, co-marketing campaign with Michelob ULTRA makes a ton of sense because historically we’ve seen that consumers start shopping for their game day party staples in the weeks leading up to the big game.”

Streamer Roku also partnered with DoorDash to offer streaming viewers membership into the local commerce company’s loyalty program, DashPass.

For the first year of the partnership, Roku will also be the exclusive adtech marketplace solution for DoorDash’s U.S. restaurants and grocers who buy shoppable click-to-order ads that run on Roku.

Dig deeper: How Roku boosts advertiser experience

Digital shoppers courted by Rakuten

Since a lot of digital shoppers will be watching the Super Bowl, ecommerce brand Rakuten is taking the opportunity to boost brand awareness with a nostalgic campaign featuring 90s star Alicia Silverstone.

“The goal of the campaign is to show consumers how easy it is to save with Rakuten while shopping all their favorite brands,” said Vicki McRae, SVP of brand, creative and communications at Rakuten.

She added, “Last year we had a Super Bowl ad that was a big brand awareness play. We saw great success with that ad, seeing a four-point increase in brand awareness. This year we’re building on that momentum, while still benefiting from the brand awareness that comes with the Super Bowl, and we’re taking it a layer deeper. We want to explain to shoppers what is that we do, and how we can help them save.

Rakuten’s approach this year is to “span across multiple pieces of content before and after the Big Game for sustained storytelling and reach,” said Michael Knott, Rakuten’s senior director, brand media.

The content includes the 30-second game day spot, a 60-second extended cut on YouTube, and a 15-second retargeting ad that will air after the Super Bowl. The campaign will be extended through other digital ads on paid social, display, paid search and affiliate partners, as well as through email and Rakuten-owned social channels, running throughout Q1.

“There is a lot of noise during the Super Bowl and brands will fight for attention in the weeks leading up to, and during, the game,” said Matt Conlin, Chief Customer Officer at performance marketing company Fluent. “It’s what you do after the game that matters. Leverage the brand equity gained during the Super Bowl to your benefit in the weeks that follow to re-engage consumers and drive conversions.”

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