How to Win in Marketing WITHOUT a Super Bowl-sized Budget

February 3, 2014

Last fall, I attended my first Content Marketing World conference and was delighted to hear Jonathan Mildenhall speak to a room full of inspired marketers. My worlds had collided – having just come from Coca-Cola, where Mildenhall leads creative excellence marketing, to join the largest professional publishing platform, LinkedIn. After we all sat drooling over brilliant creative, a few people I met at the conference posed a question:

How do I create compelling work like that on such a tiny, shoestring budget?

It’s true, not every brand can have the budgets of Coca-Cola, Chrysler or Budweiser, veteran brands when it comes to Super Bowl ads. With the going price for a :30-second spot this year coming in at $4 Million (and that doesn’t include the cost of creative), most brands simply can’t justify the budget.  But that doesn’t mean you cannot stand out and produce a winning marketing strategy.

Several brands attracted my attention during the Super Bowl this year. The important thing to note is these brands had zero commercial presence during the actual game itself. Instead, they leveraged social media to drive engagement, each in unique ways, and spent pigmy-sized budgets when compared to the big bucks other advertisers shelled out.



Working with marketing companies DeVries, Saatchi New York and Digitas, the detergent brand takes the award for doing its pre-game homework. Knowing the recent trend marketers have adopted to release commercials ahead of time in order to build buzz, Tide used this knowledge to their advantage and produced a series of Vine videos that played off the commercials and integrated the Tide brand in a relevant way. See below for a clever example in response to the Cheerios ad:

Marketers have been buzzing about real-time marketing this past year after Oreo’s Super Bowl winning tweet in 2013, but it’s Tide who has defined anticipatory marketing in 2014.


J.C. Penney (and responding brands: Coors, Snickers, Adobe Marketing Cloud)

In what first seemed like a PR nightmare, J.C. Penney has become one of the most talked about brands of the Super Bowl. It all started when @JCPenney tweeted the following messages from their Twitter account:



Most assumed the account had either been a) hacked or b) run by someone who had too many drinks at their Super Bowl party. It turns out, the team was #TweetingWithMittens, assuming it would be colder for the game and in support of a larger Team USA effort for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. After about an hour from the original tweet, the brand clarified its typos in this tweet:



But publications and brands had already jumped on the fact that thousands were talking about the non-Super Bowl advertiser. Other non-Super Bowl advertisers like Coors, Snickers, even Adobe Marketing Cloud referenced the apparent “oops” moment:





But was it really an oops, or planned all along? In an article released by Buzzfeed following the game, a spokeswoman from J.C. Penney admitted the stunt was devised to create a unique narrative for the brand during the big game.

Not only did the clothing retailer make a name for itself in Super Bowl XLVIII, all from 2 tweets that cost $0, but so too did the brands who acted timely enough to create a relevant place for themselves in the conversation.


For some, spending the millions is worth it and the Super Bowl will always be a part of their integrated marketing plan. But for many more, social media has the power to deliver massive scale at a low cost, as evidenced by these examples. And through social, there is opportunity to extend the conversation long past one single event. Investing budget into content marketing can help you deliver a winning marketing strategy that drives relevance, awareness and ultimately helps you achieve your business goals.

Not sure how to think about your content marketing budget? Consider the impressive numbers in this post from LinkedIn Influencer Joe Pulizzi, who puts into context the amount of content marketing ammo you can get for that $4 Million Super Bowl spend.

And if you want more commentary on the ads from the game, our LinkedIn Influencers were live-blogging the whole time. Find out what Jeff Weiner, Dave Kerpen, Rob Norman and more had to say about the commercials and the social buzz.


What brands caught your eye and stood out during the big game? Tweet us @LinkedInMktg