The Super Bowl is the largest television event of the year. It’s the ultimate in marketing, with over 100 million viewers and the average 30-second ad costing $5 million. It is also a community-enhanced conversation point, and a chance for a wider audience to connect with brands. Super Bowl Sunday has become a quasi-national holiday with food consumption rivaling Thanksgiving and spending higher for decorations and supplies than Halloween. By the way, there is also a football championship at stake. While not every business has the big bucks to buy Super Bowl ads, we can still learn valuable marketing lessons from the advertising, pre-game and halftime shows, even the game itself.

Quality Counts

All ads at the Super Bowl are meant to be top-notch and beyond the usual. Doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s the aim for brands. When you create any promotional material, website or social media content, it needs to be of the highest quality, be attention-grabbing and be memorable. In order to reach quality, you need to determine what goals you are trying to achieve. For the teams playing, their goal is to bring home the Vince Lombardi trophy and they are focused on winning and obviously both teams are of high quality and talented. The same should be true about your team. Are they at the top of their game? When hiring, we all need to do our best to find good talent and to keep them happy. A happy team is a motivated team and inspiration can be contagious. Leaders lead by example and team members will follow their motivation if they feel connected to the team and task.

You also need to know your audience and how to connect with it, both in terms of the message, which can include emotion, humor, and how the product adds value, the medium being used and if multiple channels are needed as part of an integrated communications plan. The message needs to be appropriate to the occasion. Super Bowl Sunday is a fun day and the message can be humorous and heartwarming. This ambience can be quite different than when selling a medical product. Creativity is also a component of quality. From Steve Carell, Lil Jon and Cardi B in a Pepsi ad to Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller ad, Super Bowl ads spark conversation based on their creativity It is also time to put on your thinking cap and come up with new ways to gain attention for your company and its vision even if it requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Even with a serious product, there can still be emotion and a story of how the product has solved a problem for people in a certain situation and how the product adds value. All advertising, collateral and publicly available documents need to provide a consistent message that is reinforced and reiterated with each encounter.

Preparation Counts

NFL teams do not reach the Super Bowl by luck alone. Organizations of all types need to look at their strengths, see where improvements are needed, and focus on how to gain a needed edge. We’ve all heard the expression, “measure twice, cut once,” which connotes the importance of preparation and attention to details. Have a fresh set of eyes proofread material and follow tricks such as reading aloud or from the bottom up. It is also important to be prepared for the unexpected such as failed technology or a lost shipment and leave extra time for troubleshooting. When the Patriots played the Falcons in the Super Bowl, it seemed as the game progressed that the New England team would be defeated. They ended up with a big comeback and defeated Atlanta, exemplifying that even in the throes of defeat, there is always a chance for victory. Underdogs can become winners with persistence and keeping their eyes on the prize.

Every organization has its “Super Bowl” moments, whether it is a major industry conference, sales launch or shareholder meeting. The key to success is preparation, being in top form, and to mix sports analogies, to make sure all bases are covered. That’s why our CEO likes to be called coach. She has a football coach mentality, naturally, having grown up watching the sport and even doing PR for her favorite team, the Oakland (recently renamed Las Vegas) Raiders.

This is an updated version of a blog originally posted on February 6, 2019.