super bowl

What Can a Startup Learn From the Super Bowl?

Latest posts by Neal Hughes and Deb Gabor (see all)

With Super Bowl LIII in the books, here is what we know for sure: The Patriots are world champions, and the robot uprising is inevitable.

The Super Bowl remains the biggest stage for brands. Heavy hitters make their loudest statements with the hopes that social media will light up, leading to a discussion that goes on for days. While advertising during the big game doesn’t make sense financially for bootstrapped startups and emerging businesses, it serves as a great teaching platform for early-stage companies.

Here at five things that startups can learn about crafting a marketing message from the most successful Super Bowl ads:

Use humor to connect with your customer

Humor is one of the easiest ways to bond with your customer. Humor creates a lasting impression and can help launch your brand into the social conscious through avenues like memes and word-of-mouth. For example, take Bud Light’s ad showing their knights going on a quest delivering a barrel of corn syrup to their rivals, Miller Lite and Coors Light. This ad succinctly communicated the brand’s value proposition of no corn syrup in a humorous way to aid recall. When it comes to marketing your own products, you can use humor to form a bond with your target audience.


Related: Former NFL Player Kamerion Wimbley Tackles Entrepreneurship Post-Football Career

Don’t assume anything about your customer

Brands finally realized that the biggest television event of the year would likely have a large portion of female viewers. Both Bumble and Olay took the opportunity to speak to women viewers. This deviation from the male-centric ads of the past showed that brands are not falling for the “only guys watch sports” trope and evolved their messaging accordingly.

Make sure you know who your target audience is, and build personas to understand your audience on a deeper level. From there, you can then hone your messaging.

Tap in to societal and environmental trends in your messaging

Every marketing message must be relevant. This year, we saw brands such as SimpliSafe and Turbo Tax highlight the increase of smart and artificial intelligence devices in our daily lives, speaking to the collective unease that comes with society’s reliance on robots. While there are always going to be an abundance of new trends, make sure the ones you incorporate into your messaging are make sense for your business.

Be authentic

The best brands in the world create conditions of irrational loyalty, and they do this by appealing to customers’ values and beliefs and communicating from a place of purpose.

Think of your brand as magnet, and when you speak authentically about your company, you will attract customers with similar values and beliefs.

Take, for example, Microsoft’s commercial about their adaptive Xbox controller, which enables children with disabilities to play video games. This commercial was full of heart, and resonated with audiences who share the belief that everyone deserves a chance to enjoy gaming.


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Know your ideal customer and speak to them

Your ideal customer archetype is a singular, focused customer persona at which you aim your brand. Remember, you build a brand for an individual, not a collective. Bumble knew exactly who its ideal customer was when the company used Serena Williams as a spokeswoman for an empowering ad about the women-centric dating app.

You don’t have to create a Super Bowl ad to consider the above tips and implement them into your own marketing messaging and advertising strategies. In fact, best practice is to build your brand early and often, and in doing so, maybe one day, people will be talking about how your brand “won” the Super Bowl.

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