Is It Too Early to Start Planning Your Super Bowl Spot? Not If You Want to Win
As the NFL Draft ticker counts down atop the ESPN broadcast, as young men wait with bated breath to see if their dreams come true and Stephen A./Max Kellerman start ferociously forecasting which team will make it to the Big game based on their picks, this advertising strategist can't help but start thinking about the Super Bowl spots ahead.
Already, you might be asking? Most definitely.
Experience has taught us that luck on advertising's biggest stage is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. It's about honing your playbook long before the big game. As legendary coach Tom Landry reminds us, "Confidence comes from knowing what you're doing. If you're prepared for something, you'll usually do it. If you're not, you usually fall on your face."
For the sake of all of our collective faces, it's certainly not too early to start asking yourself the following, as I can guarantee Super Bowl success starts well before you're ready to ink the brief:
Are you ready to entertain?
It's unfortunately something most brands don't spend enough time honing in the off-season. Despite every brilliant report coming from System1 reminding us that emotional connection is key to advertising success, brands seem to start thinking about emotional engagement only when they are asking their agencies to deliver "fame" during the Super Bowl. This often leads to work that can charm but feels fundamentally disconnected from the brand as we've come to understand it. In best-case scenarios, you may drive reconsideration, but more likely you'll end up driving misattribution to more charming brands; worse, you'll come off feeling incredibly inauthentic or even decidedly cringeworthy (looking at you, Sketchers).
Before you start the brief asking your agency for "breakthrough" work during the most crowded moment, start working with your agency now to identify how you can start forming a more entertaining and significant emotional connection in even your most forgettable placements. If you can charm in your Insta-story, then I promise you'll be better set up for the Big Game.
Have you found your persuasive foundation?
While I love nothing more than a splashy Hail Mary pass, too many brands treat their weighty Super Bowl investment with the haphazardness of a fourth-down play. The worst offenders ladder up to a ludicrously overblown purpose or just bolt the brand and product onto a funny skit.
But when we take a closer look at many of the Super Bowl greats—we find a hard persuasive center. Be it VW's "The Force," Snickers "You're Not You," or Amazon's Alexa work, routinely winning Super Bowl spots build off the brand's strongest RTBs. Now is the moment to start interrogating your assets, dig into your brand driver research, and unearth what rationally sets your brand apart from the competition.
Do you have the right team chemistry?
It's the latest trend for Super Bowl spots to be treated as a script jump ball between agencies that will ultimately be decided by testing. And while sure, that can make for some decent :30 outputs, it fails to capture the full scope of the Super Bowl opportunity.
A fully charged inter-agency team is necessary to architect the masterful pre-during-and-post planning of a great Super Bowl campaign. If you're trying to find this chemistry in the 11th hour, you're definitely not going to get the best out of your collective agency teams. So if you're working with a roster model, I recommend determining which of your agency partners leads the most fruitful IAT processes in the day-to-day. As you look to who you want to brief with your Super Bowl work, follow Peyton Manning's wisdom: "The most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable."
With more than 280 days to go until Super Bowl Sunday 2022, now is the time to take a page from the NFL— start making your team selects. At Lucky Generals, we've already started running our sprints and practicing our drills, because we believe, like the great Bill Parcells, "the more you prepare beforehand, the more relaxed, creative and effective you'll be when it counts."
It's that belief that led us to top placements for Amazon three years running, and we believe it's what could make the difference for any brand looking to succeed this year. So throw us in, coach, we're ready.