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This week we take a break from heavy strategic talk to celebrate an unofficial national holiday - the Super Bowl.  Annually the highest rated single television broadcast in the U.S., the Super Bowl is expected to draw 130 million viewers in America and nearly 1 Billion in 234 countries worldwide. (see Voice of America article)

For those of us in the marketing business, the Super Bowl is more than the game on the field and the halftime show. It’s about the strategic decision to spend $3 million for a 30 second ad and how to make it pay off (although the economy has forced some last minute discounting by the network).

Since you’ll be thinking about advertising during the game (at least some of the time), here are the 3 biggest lessons to remember:

  1. Don’t Hide - the economy makes it even more important to communicate
  2. Get Permission - because so many people watch for the ads, they’re basically giving you permission to sell to them.
  3. Integrate - use different tactics to get more bang for your buck. Smart Super Bowl advertisers make every attempt to integrate Internet and social networking tactics, along with advance PR and direct marketing.

I typically root for the underdog. Phoenix in this case.  To me, it’s like helping a smaller business beat the big guys. I like winning smart.

Speaking of smart, here’s Mary Ann Rogers’ take on the big game and the need to keep your message out in front.  (Steelers 27 Cards 20; My heart’s with the Cards but my head knows better. Now if the Cards had a running game…)

The Super Bowl is here

People everywhere are stocking their fridges with an endless supply of beer, chips and deep-fried goodies.

And since I have no personal affiliation with either of the teams playing in Sunday’s game, I will resign myself to watching the next best thing - the Super Bowl commercials!

Taking into account the current economic state and the fact that a thirty second spot costs a whopping $3 million, can we expect this year’s commercials to be as effective as in years past?

In previous blog postings, Burst Marketing has advised area businesses not to run for cover during a recession, but rather market smarter and more efficiently. And from the looks of a recent article, several big-name NFL sponsors like Anheuser-Busch, Audi, Bridgestone, FritoLay and GE are doing just that. (Click here for more.)

It’s Worked Before

Anheuser-Busch, famous for their Clydesdales and talking bullfrogs, has been a cornerstone of Super Bowl advertising for years, winning the top spot in USA Today’s “Ad Meter” for the last decade. This year the brewer has recruited comedic star Conan O’Brian and purchased an additional 30 seconds of air time, ramping up their total commercial time to four and a half minutes.

Anheuser-Bush chief creative officer Bob Lachky said, “We’re trying to reassure the viewer, and our consumer, that we’re here and we’re strong and we’re never changing.” (Click here for more.)

That’s exactly the right message to send in this economy. Remind your target audiences that you’re relevant and reliable.

“What makes the Super Bowl unique is that this is the one time every year where, instead of complaining about advertising, we celebrate advertising,” said Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer for Nielsen Buzz Metrics. “You can’t really beat the reach.”

But not everyone is embracing this idea of recessional-style marketing. Past Super Bowl advertisers FedEx and General Motors will not be running ads in this year’s game. Blaming the economy and “bad timing,” these two giants aren’t willing to pay the hefty price tag for ad space.

“As a country, we are in unprecedented economic waters,” said Steve Pacheco, managing director of advertising at FedEx. “A Super Bowl ad buy is not where we should put dollars at this time although, in the past, the value of doing so for FedEx has been indisputable.”

While most Capital Region businesses won’t be running ads in the Super Bowl, the need to out in front of your target audiences is still the same.

So if anyone gives you a hard time for paying too much attention to the Super Bowl commercials on Sunday, just tell them its market research.

Posted by: Steve Banis and Mary Ann Rogers