Tentpole events, such as the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or NCAA March Madness, curate prolific advertising spaces that deliver high ratings, resounding buzz, and attentive viewers — but they also come with hefty price tags for marketers. The experts on MarketCast’s Ad Solutions team have been tracking and measuring ad performance in these types of events for years, and would love to share their insights.
Whether you’re a first-time advertiser in the Super Bowl or a seasoned veteran touching every major television event, when it comes to advertising in a highly-unique content environment, there are a few best practices that all brands should keep in mind if they want their ads to win big.
1. Know Your Playing Field
It’s no secret that one of the best times to advertise is during a big tentpole event. But, which ones stand out and deliver the most impact? Viewers are more actively engaged with high-profile sports matches or tournaments than any other tentpole events. In fact, according to data from MarketCast Brand Effect, Brand Memorability for big sports moments, such as the Super Bowl, is noticeably higher compared to non-sports big moments, like awards shows and political events.
In addition, relative to other programming, 43% of brands that advertise in big sports moments experience a significant lift in Brand Memorability, likely driven by contextually or seasonally relevant ads, easily identifiable sponsorship elements, or a focus on solid creative.
Overall, ads that are relevant to the time of year or fit within the context of the event program perform the highest during big moments. According to MarketCast Brand Effect, during the 2022 World Cup, advertisers with the largest share of voice used contextually relevant and/or holiday-themed ads to drive improved Likeability for their ads. In fact, nearly all top-performing ads during last year’s World Cup were either contextually relevant or holiday-themed.
2. Emotions Resonate Big with Viewers
If Super Bowl LVII taught us anything, it’s that brands can relate to audiences by evoking an emotional response or taking a humorous approach to their advertising. “Forever” by The Farmer’s Dog was the most memorable ad measured by MarketCast in this year’s Super Bowl, with a Brand Ad Appeal score of 33% (compared to the 13% Super Bowl norm).*
The ad takes pet owners on an emotional journey that is relevant, engaging, and clear in its messaging. It speaks directly to audiences in a way that brings us closer to the brand, lifting our brand consideration, and driving action.
Being funny is also a way to win. Because few things go together like Ben Affleck and Dunkin’, the ad “Drive Thru” hit the nail on the head with this funny, clever, and relatable spot, which also ranked number one for Likeability in this year’s Super Bowl, according to MarketCast. Our team found the humorous tone did not detract from the ad’s relevance, allowing it to resonate well with a broad Super Bowl audience.
Brands can also apply this tactic to sporting events outside the Super Bowl. For example, Domino’s and Capital One, the two top-performing ads during the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (aka March Madness), both incorporated humor into a creative concept that was unique and entertaining.
3. Consider Airing Multiple Spots in One Event
Multi-spotting is a tactic long used among tentpole event advertisers to break through with audiences. Brands like Bud Light and Tide deployed this tactic in Super Bowl LIII and LIV, respectively, and their use of repeat exposure throughout the games helped reinforce the brands’ messages, earning them top rankings in their respective games.
In this year’s Super Bowl, Michelob Ultra, M&M’s, and Pepsi Zero Sugar all aired multiple spots while employing different tactics for their inventory. Michelob Ultra spoofed the 80s film “Caddyshack” in their first ad while promoting the Netflix documentary “Full Swing” in the other. Pepsi Zero Sugar aired two ads that were similar in length and setup, driving reinforcement of the campaign idea and advertiser.
There’s more where this came from! For deeper insights into your brand’s advertising performance in tentpole events and beyond, contact us.
* Brand Ad Appeal delivers a holistic view of ad performance that accounts for ad memorability, brand communication, and audience favorability.