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AMBUSH MARKETING

Big-spending Super Bowl advertisers being upstaged by competitors

By our News Team | 2022

Brands spend fortunes advertising around the Super Bowl game in the US. Now smaller players are ambushing them at a fraction of the cost.

The famous Super Bowl football game in the US has long been a mega-event for fans, marketers and their advertising agencies – with brands spending fortunes each year on advertising and brand-building strategies linked to the event.  

But the new digital world also brings with it a host of new challenges for Super Bowl advertisers, not least what experts are calling ‘brand interceptions’. Which is probably an extension of traditional ‘ambush marketing’ by another name.

According to research by Profitero, an international e-commerce data and insights company operating on four continents, in the old days you watched a Super Bowl ad and unless the brand offered a Twitter sweepstakes or specific call to action, the journey stopped there.

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Photo by elisfkc2 via Wikimedia Commons

But thanks to digital commerce, the journey from ad to action is now quicker and more direct. Within seconds of seeing a Super Bowl ad, consumers can search on Amazon or Walmart.com (a leading US retailer), learn more about the brand and product, and have it on their doorsteps by the next day.

In theory, this makes the return-on-investment of Super Bowl advertising stronger than it has ever been, Profitero says in a blog post. But what happens when competitors ‘intercept’ your Super Bowl brand traffic and use it to call attention to their own brands and products on retailer websites, instead of yours? 

A fraction of the cost was spent on banner ads

Many savvy brands did just that during this year’s Super Bowl. Instead of paying millions of dollars for 30 or 60 seconds of national airtime, they spent a fraction of that on online banner ads and sponsored search results to conquest the brand names of Super Bowl advertisers. 

Profitero examined 20 consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands who advertised during this year’s game between 6pm and 10pm last Sunday (US Eastern Standard Time). Online product pages and search results were monitored using top search terms across Amazon, Instacart (another big online retailer) and Walmart. Each brand was then rated based on a Brand Interception Index to determine who did the best (and worst) job defending their brands from competitor ads. 

“We witnessed 6 548 instances of brands attempting to intercept competitor brands on Amazon, Instacart and Walmart.com during the course of the game,” the blog explains.

“They may not have had a splashy TV ad, but Modelo and Corona (both beer brands) would have been hard to miss when shopping online for Stella Artois, Michelob Ultra, and other AB InBev products (beer brands which did advertise around the Super Bowl). We found 304 instances where Modelo and Corona (imported by a company called Constellation Brands) intercepted AB InBev (another major beer company) brands by placing an advertisement on a key search term or product page.”

The blog adds: “One of the smart steals of the game was by (beer brand) Coors, who conquested Michelob’s organic beer ad on Instacart.com, creating awareness for its own organic beer offering without the US$7-million spent on TV advertising (around the Super Bowl) by Michelob.”

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