How PR Plays a Role During Super Bowl Sunday Marketing

The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated shows for North American businesses because of the marketing opportunities it brings. This year, the game between the Seattle Seahawks andthe Denver Broncos drew a crowd of 111.3 million viewers, meaning any advertisement shown during a commercial break reached almost one-third of US and Canada’s population. The social amplification that accompanied this reach was several times more effective.

When people think of great marketing gimmicks during the Super Bowl, the spotlight is always given to the finished product – the witty advertisement, for instance. Public relations’ role is almost always left out of the limelight. Brands invest hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars into a single advertisement, hoping to outdo another brand in virality, but many don’t realize that they can have access to similar opportunities with the right PR planning –without having to break the bank.

For instance, Omaze hired Arnold Schwarzenegger to play a role in its ad, but only nabbed fifth place in the charts.  Newcastle Brown Ale created an ad which cleverly weaved in Super Bowl relevance that aired outside of the time slot, but garnered more views than other brands that paid big bucks for a spot on the show. Ensurance saved 1.5 million and got its hashtag trending by purchasing the first spot after the show’s end. J.C. Penney didn't spend a single advertising dollar during the Super Bowl, but gained 10,000 followers and almost 2,000 mentions for a prank they pulled on Twitter by taking advantage of the raging conversations on social media. 

Radio Shack hit it out of the park in terms of brilliant PR messaging. By pushing out a nostalgic commercial paired with a Twitter auction of nostalgic electronics, they were able to show the audience that they are aware of the public's sentiment -that they are falling behind as a brand. Then, they were able to take this opportunity to make themselves relevant again by promising big changes for the future.  Brilliant messaging. Great combination of strategies to get their message across to their target audiences.

This goes to show the importance of tying in a PR strategy when planning any type of campaign.When pitching PR ideas to large brands who focus much of their resources on advertising, remember that creatives, such as ads, are vehicles for communicating a message. Publicists should focus on the needs of the company, think of suitable tactics which fall within a given budget, and cleverly make use of resources available to them to communicate the key messages. From the examples given above, we know there are more ways than one when it comes to riding on the wave of a current event. 

What other examples can you think of that had great PR integration? How do you think PR has played a role in securing exposure for big and small companies during the Super Bowl?