10 Super Bowl tips every CMO should know

When it comes to the Big Game, it's all about brand readiness, agility, advocacy, and latency

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While leading digital for Nestlé from 2011-2018, my most important "brand training" exercise was an all-night Super Bowl ad party.

We'd gather at 11 p.m. on Game Day in our Swiss headquarters in a digital room surrounded by 15 massive data screens, dust off "brand readiness" audits we conducted weeks earlier, and work until morning dissecting the spots. Extra Nespresso was on hand.

It was a tour-de-force of marketing know-how, a feast of innovation and "teachable moments." We meticulously monitored the "agility" of brand advertisers. We mapped "consumer journeys." We quantified earned-media (or not) across spots. We called 800 numbers, pressure-tested bots, queried search engines (site, Google, Alexa), and matched ad claims with "truths" in Amazon reviews.

We learned the "hands on" way that marketing ROI demands orchestration, cross-platform synergy, and hyper-attentiveness to feedback. When 30 seconds costs $4 million, you have no choice but to prime every lever to increase your odds of success. Shareholders expect nothing less.

This was clear even before joining Nestlé. While at Nielsen, I measured Super Bowl ad effectiveness for dozens of advertisers.

So then, what's the secret sauce? First, great creative is non-negotiable (e.g. "It's a Tide Ad" from 2018 or "Skittle Romance" in 2017), but there's a broad mix of vitamins to extend a spot's reach, impact, conversion potential, and "latency" effect.

Ignite the site

If a consumer digs your spot, she will instinctively check out your owned, mobile, and social channels. Prime all available tools, from simple search to "contact us." Ensure the ad is readily available on the home page, front and center.

Prime your voice

Ensure your team understands how to prime site content or news blurbs for voice devices. Trust me, consumers will ask Alexa or Google Assistant about your ad. I'm confident 90 percent of 2019 advertisers will disappoint. Don't believe me? Just ask Alexa if Budweiser has a Super Bowl ad.

Review your reviews

Every game advertiser should be attentive to positive or negative reviews. They're one click away. Consider: Pepsi is investing big spend and fanfare into Bubly water game spot, yet nearly 30 percent of Amazon reviews about the product are negative. "ECommerce reviews are the new front line of ad effectiveness," explained Mark Jeffreys of Cincinnati-based Mobile Agent Now. "They're the unbiased, real-time reason to believe (or not) in the benefit."

Game the name

All marketers are obsessed with "first party data." Great storytelling and call-to-action data-capture can dance together. Pringles is even linking to a free delivery opportunity leveraging Louisville-based startup Fooji. To make this work, ensure any data collection is crazy buttoned up. And ensure your privacy policies are simple. (Most are not!)

Real-time the radar

Real-time listening is critical. Track all forms of buzz, stay wired to search-engine queries and pipe your consumer-affairs data to all relevant brand managers in real time. Share the data with key teams who can act on the big insights or tactical learning as quickly as possible. Skim every corner with your own eyes. Only takes seconds.

Get wise about the surprise

Things rarely play out as planned. Be prepared to flex. Remember the blackout? Or the "Wardrobe Malfunction." These can all be opportunities—if you are ready.

Greet the Tweets

Staff your Twitter, Instagram, and WeChat accounts generously, and don't be shy about thanking or giving high-fives, including to those who give you tough love. If you leverage paid influencers, especially on Instagram, make darn sure they disclose the relationship.

Feed the speakers, serve the seekers

Empower fans to speak out. Ask for a testimonial, video review, or rating. Employees can also play a role, but again, DISCLOSE. Think about how consumers might stumble onto your ad through a search query. Be attentive to how detractors can co-opt your spot through deft use of search (PETA does this brilliantly).

Serve and smile

Service is marketing. It makes people feel important and dignified, and it can trigger huge word-of-mouth dividends. Grab feedback in Spanish. Make sure "TV advertising" is a field in your feedback and Contact-Us forms. And give your call-center reps, who also may be answering tweets, all the dish they can handle about ads.

Exploit the extras

Fans and influencers will take all the scoop you can provide about why and how the spot was made. Think about "extras" you might provide from the cutting-room floor. Influencers love to know it first and tell it first. They love the "story behind the story."

The big operative words here are brand readiness, agility, advocacy, and latency. To be clear, we weren't looking to have a party in Switzerland. We were training to become world-class CMOs.

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