And Right and Wrong Ways to Use it, According to OMD’s Mark Stewart

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sure, the NFL playoffs haven’t even begun yet, but it’s never too soon to start talking about the Super Bowl, the single most-watched and talked-about event in the ad industry. Who better to discuss it with than Mark Stewart, whose agency, OMD, has any number of Super Bowl regulars as clients, from FedEx to McDonald’s to Pepsi.
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Mark Stewart

Mr. Stewart was brought in as managing director of OMD East from Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Universal McCann earlier this year to bolster the Omnicom Group-owned media network’s strategic planning tools and drive growth in its eastern region. He talks here with MediaWorks about how the big game is faring in a time of great change.

MediaWorks: Everyone’s talking about the rapidly fragmenting media environment that’s altering any number of advertising institutions. Has the Super Bowl’s role as a media and marketing event changed?

Mark Stewart: If anything, it’s become more potent. There will be the discussion of audiences and how ratings change from year to year and advertisers can protect themselves against that. There’s a split. Everyone is talking about the fragmentation of audiences. The middle ground is going away. But there are still the properties regardless of media type that people want to gravitate to, that interest and intrigue them. There’s also the fact that people are social animals and there are properties that people want to aggregate around and become part of the cultural discussion, like “The Apprentice” and other reality shows and breakthrough TV and the NCAA basketball tournament. There are still those things people want to share and collectively want to experience. No one has a Super Bowl party the day after and no one watches it on playback.

MediaWorks: What are the right reasons to use the Super Bowl?

Mark Stewart: You have to have a product or a service that scales to the constituents. The Super Bowl is one of those properties that do a very important thing in capturing the population and the imagination all in one. It scales, it has lean-forward interest, it’s a sought-after event. And the advertising is as heralded as the game itself. It’s an experiential marketing event. Buying just one spot and not activating around it is not the best use of the investment. But buying a spot as an anchor and activating a marketing program around it is still a fabulous opportunity.

MediaWorks: How important is integration to that activation?

Mark Stewart: There’s a difference between being integrated and activated. I’m talking about activating against internal audiences or external audiences, on packages, or at point of sale. The incremental value comes from using that placement as the cornerstone of a bigger program, which could grow across other media or other marketing line items.

MediaWorks: What are the wrong ones?

Mark Stewart: To say you have a spot in the Super Bowl. To expect that one ad in the Super Bowl is a silver bullet.

MediaWorks: You’re originally from Australia, but are you an American football fan? Any predictions?

Mark Stewart: Around playoffs I’m fan, but I don’t know now. I’d love to see the Giants make it.

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