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Lessons From Brands That Didn't Advertise in the Super Bowl

How to Leverage Live Events without Spending Big Bucks

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Monster.com social media stunt
Monster.com social media stunt

Several b-to-b advertisers that have previously advertised in the Super Bowl opted to sit this year's game out -- instead using social media, partnerships and advertising around the game to boost awareness and engagment.

GE ran an existing TV spot in the pre-game show; Monster.com tweeted a post-game spoof congratulatory ad that linked to its job-search service; and Visa partnered with the NFL to promote its payment services in a "shoppable" half-time show.

With other live events coming up -- including the Academy Awards on Feb. 22 and the NCAA Final Four in March -- b-to-b marketers can learn some lessons from these marketers on how to leverage live events without shelling out big bucks for in-game advertising and expensive creative.

"Obviously, there is the cost factor. NBC was reportedly getting over $4 million for a 30-second spot -- that's a lot of money," said Andy Goldberg, global creative director at GE, which last advertised during the Super Bowl in 2012, when it ran two 30-second spots.

This year, GE ran an existing 60-second spot, "Ideas are Scary," created by BBDO New York, during the pre-game show on NBC. "It was a big moment and a big audience, even though it wasn't the full Super Bowl audience," Mr. Goldberg said.

"With live events, there is also the creative factor. It's not just about running the message you want to run, but the story you want to tell, with an amazing piece of creative," Mr. Goldberg added. "For the Oscars, you want something that will appeal to a target audience interested in film. You also want it to fit within the moment."

Monster.com, which last advertised in the Super Bowl in 2010, ran a social media campaign immediately following the game with a spoof tweet congratulating Seattle and driving users to its job search service for a new social media manager.

Copy read, "No matter why you're looking for a new job, we can help you find better." The campaign was created by BBDO New York.

"It was a fun idea, and it was not an expensive or long thought-out endeavor," said Ted Gilvar, CMO at Monster.com. Within 24 hours, the ad had over 6,500 tweets, with a potential reach of 17 million viewers.

Mr. Gilvar said while past Super Bowl broadcast ads have been successful, Monster.com did not evaluate buying TV ads this year.

"First, we are much more digitally and socially focused on what we're doing now as a digital brand. We are more invested in digital, and we have built out a social media command center, so it's a big focus on what we do," Mr. Gilvar said. "Second, we are very focused on millennials as a target, and millennials were engaging heavily with social media during the game."

Mr. Gilvar said it is important that marketers looking to capitalize on live events stay connected, stay true to the brand and have fun. "With any live events that people are actively engaged in and commenting on, it can be a great reservoir for connecting with your target audience," he said, noting Monster.com has a team of people tuned in to live events. "You have to stay true to who you are and what you do, and your brand. For us, that is connecting people with jobs."

Visa is another b-to-b marketer that used the Super Bowl as a way to connect with consumers and businesses during the big game. Visa, which last advertised during the Super Bowl in 2005, has been an NFL sponsor for 20 years and is the exclusive payment services sponsor for all official NFL events.

"Visa's league and team sponsorships provide a wide range of benefits, including access to the Super Bowl, the NFL Pro Bowl and the NFL Draft, to connect with Visa cardholders and drive value for financial institution clients, merchant partners and shareholders," said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa.

At the Super Bowl and leading up to the game, Visa promoted its Visa Checkout service through a variety of activities, including a promotion at the NFL Shop giving customers coupons for using Visa/Apple Pay. The company was also the official payment platform for a "shoppable" half-time show, in which users could buy merchandise across multiple platforms, from remote controls on smart TVs to smartphones.

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