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Published: 2 Feb 2018

Super Bowl 2018: Meta Advertising

Thirty-second ad slots during this year's NFL Super Bowl broadcast (February 4) come with $5m price tags. Many brands are joining the annual advertising extravaganza with self-aware mega-spots full of stars, befitting the price of entry, while some are looking to digital alternatives to get their share of the attention at a lower cost.

  • The Meta Sell: Many brands in the 2018 Super Bowl ad round-up are playing with self-awareness around the bombast of the advertising occasion. US brand Tostitos is even selling Super Bowl ads as a concept, creating a digital platform that auto-generates clips full of cute features and celebrities for fans to promote their home-viewing parties.

    Texas-based marketing group Avocados from Mexico's ad teaser shows American actor Chris Elliot announcing himself as a "big-time Hollywood actor" to prepare the expected 111 million viewers for the elaborate brand communications headed their way. Meanwhile, PepsiCo is rolling out two highly regarded actors to face off in a rap battle under the tutelage of two hip-hop legends. US actors Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman have stepped up to an ad by sub-brands Doritos and Mountain Dew, under the benevolent eyes of American rap artists Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot.  
  • Performative Non-Participation: While outstanding campaigns of previous years had small brands banding together to ironically share expensive air time, this year big brands are making a show of not playing along. For instance, US snack brand Kind is using the money required to pay for a 30-second ad slot to incentivise consumers to distribute its ad on its behalf. The company is giving away $6m worth of its product to the first three million people to share its ad online.

    Mars-owned candy brand Skittles has turned the big numbers on their head. It's created a lavish video worthy of the prime broadcast spots, but is only going to show it to one person: a Californian teenager called Marcos Menendez. Although the actual ad itself will only be seen by Menendez, the brand is teasing the spot with a series of uncanny clips featuring US actor David Schwimmer speculating on what the exclusive and elusive ad will look like. During the game, viewers can head to Skittles' Facebook page to watch a live stream of Menendez having his truly unique viewing experience.

    So far, the campaign has increased digital content engagement around the Skittles brand by 112% (Media Post, 2018).  
  • Owning the Second Screen: Skittles is an official sponsor of the NFL, so its non-participation is only nominal, but as we first discussed in our Super Bowl 2016 commentary, digital channels have given brands a multitude of ways to engage consumers around a public event without needing to be officially affiliated.

    Mercedes Benz is making a bid for second-screen attention during game time. It's presenting a smartphone-based version of the car dealership 'last man standing' endurance stunt, wherein a group of contestants place their hands on a parked car, until only one remains standing after however many hours or days to take the vehicle home with them. When Philadelphia and the New England Patriots face off on February 4, Last Fan Standing will challenge sports fans' patience as they try to keep their finger on a moving AMG C43 Coupe being live-streamed on screen. A live counter will inform players how many fellow contestants remain in the game, and the last person glued to their mobile screen will win the car. Drew Slaven, vice-president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA, explained in a statement: "We wanted to get beyond the traditional game-day executions and do something that was more reflective of the social co-viewing phenomena that game day has become, with people alternating between watching the big screen and socialising on the small one." Mercedes has teased Last Fan Standing through social video ads on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. It's worth noting that Digiday estimates $5m could buy an advertiser 32 years' worth of digital video ads. 

For more on second-screen engagement, check out 7 Platforms to Watch in 2018. To get a monthly look at shifting public opinions through the lens of entertainment, follow our Pop Culture Round-Ups.

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