The Super Bowl: PR, Marketing and Branding Blitz

Over the years, the Super Bowl has experienced an evolution—and it’s not just for hardcore football fans anymore.

It’s gone from simply being the most popular national sporting event, to becoming every advertiser’s dream time slot. Marketers, advertisers and public relations professionals have quickly caught onto the trend of capitalizing on television’s biggest event. Corporate sponsors, products, companies, musicians, teams and players alike all use the Big Game to get a step ahead. Some favorite commercials are ones that premiered during a Super Bowl.

Obviously, the Super Bowl is a major opportunity for sports, team and player marketing. The NFL and its sponsors rely on loyal fans to wear those Seahawks and Broncos colors and jerseys to advertise for these teams during and after the big game.

And that goes for all teams. Football is football; whenever one team is being discussed, it’s an opportunity to discuss them all. 

It’s also an opportunity for those players who have product endorsement deals to capitalize, even if they’re not on either of the competing teams. Even though Clay Matthews didn’t play during this year’s matchup, his Gillette commercials still got buzz. Drew Brees still had Nyquil ads.

And who could forget Troy Polamalu’s ridiculously fun Head & Shoulders commercials?

troy polamalu head and shoulders
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There certainly wasn’t a shortage of Super Bowl ads this year, despite the $4 million price tag for a 30-second spot. There was an engineer quitting her job, a puppy and a Clydesdale, Tim Tebow without a contract, a Frito Chicken Enchilada melt…and a frisky bull.

More than 20 brands and products began unveiling their ads several weeks before the game, generating early buzz and anticipation. Viewers and critics already had a few favorites selected well before the kickoff.

(Are we the only ones who still have that Budweiser commercial pulling on our heartstrings?)

But it’s not just about getting a product’s name out there anymore: it’s also about how PR, marketing and digital professionals can push their products by seizing every opportunity to grow awareness and fan engagement.

(Remember this brilliantly-placed ad following last year’s brief Super Bowl blackout?)
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In my opinion, the blackout that happened at the Super Dome last year was the ultimate test of professionals thinking on their toes in an unforeseen situation.

Not just thinking in terms of, “Oh dear…how should we handle this crisis?”
But also, “How can we take advantage of this moment and be memorable?”

And the folks over at Oreo nailed it—it’s a marketing move that’s still talked about today.

And what’s just as big as the actual game? The halftime show! Bruno Mars took this sought-after musical spot during this year’s game and revived the crowd witnessing a virtual blowout into a frenzy of catchy tunes, bright lights, gold vests and dance move reminiscent of James Brown and Michael Jackson. The Red Hot Chili Peppers joined him in the middle of his set to rock the stadium and keep the crowd on their feet.

Half time performers are often announced several months in advance, so it’s a great opportunity to create added buzz around entertainers and boost record sales.

And it’s definitely a plan that works.

Billboard reported that following their highly anticipated reunion at the 2013 Super Bowl, Destiny’s Child album sales spiked 197%. The Who’s album sales jumped 102% after their performance in 2010. Justin Timberlake’s album sales for “Justified” increased 160%, despite the infamous wardrobe malfunction during 2004’s halftime show.


(Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers brought the house down Sunday night)
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The bottom line is this: the Super Bowl is more than the final football game of the NFL season. It’s an event that’s hyped up for months preceding its commencement, and is talked about for months after the winning team has been crowned. It’s a great opportunity for products to push their companies that will be used all year round.

Make sure you keep that sports momentum going—the CIAA 2014 Basketball tournament is just a few weeks away! As the agency of record for the CIAA, c21 is busy putting the final touches on the event. Check it out!

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Brittany Knox is the newest public relations intern here at c21. She is an alumna of Georgia State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. When she’s not sharpening her skills as a future PR maven, Brittany enjoys traveling, dancing, and dining around Atlanta.

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