5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need “Big Game Quality” Ads

If you say the words “ad spot” to most people, their minds will likely flash directly to commercials during the Big Game—a byword for lavish and over-the-top advertising.

While this became the standard for many different companies, this ad spot is no longer the most effective form of video advertising.

So, what’s the best model to advertise to customers now? Here’s what you need to know about commercials during the Big Game. 

Learn More: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

The History and Background of Ads During the Big Game

This landmark game began in 1967 as the American Football League-National Football League World Championship Game, with the Green Bay Packers beating the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t dubbed with its current name until 1969.

Even from the earliest days, advertising was an essential element. The lore behind its name change is that Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, was inspired by his daughter’s playing with her “Wham-O Super Ball,” the hot toy of Christmas 1966, and decided a spiffier name would get more attention for the big game. In other words, branding was crucial to the game’s popularity. 

Football is a highly TV-friendly game, with obvious places for breaks, which only helped foster that symbiosis between the sport and commercials. Viewership was enormous, with 56 million people tuning in for the game in 1969 to watch the New York Jets play the Baltimore Colts.

Advertising during the event attracted high-end brands from the start, primarily targeted at men, although some of the early ad buyers, like Winston Cigarettes, might not pass muster now. 

At first, ads were not created especially for the event, but gradually this changed. In 1973, a sexy (or, looking back with contemporary eyes, “sexy”) ad for Noxzema Shave Cream made a splash. It starred Farrah Fawcett, football legend Joe Namath, and a lot of shaving cream. This kicked off a commercial trend of casting big names. But the biggest game-changer in the world of ads during the Big Game came in 1984, with legendary director Ridley Scott’s “1984” ad for the forthcoming Apple Macintosh Computers.

The Fallbacks of the Big Game Standard

Expressionistic, highly visual, and very expensive, the “1984” spot was widely mocked and parodied—but also set expectations for future advertising.

In some ways, though, for as much influence that spot had, it created many problems. While certainly groundbreaking, it helped establish several myths and misconceptions about the outsized impact that these ads have on consumers. For many advertisers, ad spots during the Big Game became synonymous with the only way to reach an audience. 

But it’s time for a reality check. The media landscape, not to mention the way consumers shop, has changed a lot since 1984. 

Here are five important points for advertisers to bear in mind in the current marketplace as brands look to connect with consumers:

1. Commercials Don’t Require a Huge Budget To Be Great

Even in the world of ads, there are notable exceptions to the trend of spending a fortune. Funkier, lower-budget ads also make an impact, get responses on social media, and are fun to watch. They make a dent in the public consciousness because they break the mold of bloated and overproduced spots.

Apply that thinking outside the Big Game, too — remember, there are 364 other days a year to grab people’s attention. It’s possible to make fun, simple, eye-catching, clever ads for a fraction of the cost. 

You can capture footage, cost-effectively generate assets, and find ways to cleverly repurpose those assets throughout the year. Smart content makers know that video post-production and editing offer an array of ways to repurpose assets and make them shine.

Capitalize on UGC Content

One of the most effective low-budget types of advertising is user-generated content (UGC), which studies show is a highly effective way of gaining consumers’ trust. It often features testimonials or user reviews and is closer to how most audiences these days consume media through their social channels.  

If you could get increased consumer traction and trust by using affordably-made UGC that you could then repurpose in many different ways, wouldn’t that be better than spending big on an ad that may not connect with an audience at all?

In a worst-case scenario, some ads completely backfire and leave a brand scrambling to do damage control. Others fall flat, falling victim to the intense scrutiny placed on advertising during the Big Game. Be smart and avoid that trap!

2. Commercials Don’t Need Lavish Production Value To Be Successful

As noted above, UGC is more trusted by consumers than overproduced ads. Sitting at home during the pandemic and watching mostly from smaller screens like laptops and phones, consumers have found authenticity and relatability in more “real”-feeling content.

You don’t need a huge Hollywood studio or budget to make the content you like. Celebrities are so ubiquitous in ads and on our screens that they are devalued when it comes to advertisements. If you can’t afford a big star to pitch your product, don’t sweat it—you don’t need one.

You can create effective video ads with: 

  • An engaging real person who can talk knowledgeably about your product
  • A simple shooting setup (even a phone will do in a pinch)
  • A location that’s attractive and relatable—it could be in a small backyard studio, a park, or on a beach

Use some imagination and lateral thinking, and remember that a lot of memorable and effective campaigns embraced their limitations and strengths.

If you want to connect with your consumers and the people who might well make up your customer base, you can use simple means and still get results. 

Think of the millions of people who spend hours every day watching TikTok videos made by people in their living rooms. Create your own personalities for your campaign—all the better if they’re real people who love your products. Remember that the important thing is reaching consumers, not spending as much money as you possibly can on art design.

3. Commercials Don’t Need To Be Elaborate To Be Effective

Sometimes, simple is best. Of course, story matters, and visuals need to be engaging to compete with the millions of other options vying for your potential customers’ attention. But “elaborate” doesn’t always mean more compelling. 

If your product itself is user-friendly and straightforward, you may be better off just describing to consumers why it adds value to their lives. 

If you think about it, one of the things that made that classic “1984” ad so memorable was its message—that this product, the Apple Computer, was revolutionary and going to destroy the competition. 

Deliver that same message simply, without any frills, and cut through the clutter and noise of this digital world. This is a better approach, rather than having another CGI-fest or celebrity-filled endorsement video that could get lost amid the thousands of similar ad spots.

4. One Spot For the Whole Year Doesn’t Work Now

The cycle for targeting consumers now is all year long. Once, the world stopped for the TV event that sent consumers running to the malls. However, it doesn’t make as much sense to rely on one spot a year now, given how much media we all consume and that so much shopping has migrated online.

And with everything (including consumers’ attention spans) moving so quickly these days, a commercial you produce in January won’t feel current in October—especially after months of it running.

Keep Your Content Fresh

Consider a better alternative: produce a fresh, creative slate of advertising that can be constantly tested, iterated, and honed so you can find out what resonates with your audience. Then, emphasize those elements. 

With updates and tailoring, you don’t risk the audience feeling ad fatigued from seeing the same ad run again and again and tuning out your message (along with so many others). Wouldn’t you rather have your audience feel excited and engaged by your content, and keep it feeling fresh?

5. Brevity Works!

If you look at that revolutionary “1984” Macintosh spot, you might be surprised at how short and punchy it is compared to its descendants. These days, the Big Game ads tend to be bloated. Sometimes, brands tease out their spots in tiny snippets throughout the game. It’s the snippets themselves that build anticipation and engagement.

If there’s a lesson to your campaign, it would be that short 15 to 30-second spots are just as—if not more—effective at engaging consumers as operatically long ads.

How To Effectively Advertise Today

You need a campaign that is nimble, cost-effective, and able to pivot. This way, you can use data to keep targeting consumers and locate the points resonating with them. QuickFrame gives brands what they need: on-point videos that meet their targets and work on high-performing platforms (where your customers already are spending time.)

Using a marketplace approach to production, QuickFrame offers great video marketing that can be made in half the time and at half the cost of traditional companies. With QuickFrame, you can keep scoring touchdowns with consumers all year round. Get in touch to find out how they can help your brand!

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