How to capitalize on the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics hype without spending big bucks

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user Pennywise

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user Pennywise

The average cost of a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl is a record high $4 million this year. Ouch! From SodaStream and Budweiser to Jaguar to H&M, big brands are spending big bucks to reach an enormous audience.

However, this doesn’t mean brands with smaller budgets can’t take advantage of the buzz that surrounds popular global events. There are still many profile raising opportunities, especially during the age of social media. For example, one of the most impactful ads during last year’s Super Bowl wasn’t even a commercial – it was a simple, creative and very timely tweet from Oreo.

Many of us know the story. Oreo tweeted the following response during the 34-minute infamous blackout in the superdome:

Twitter users went crazy and it was retweeted more than 10,000 times within an hour.

Oreo invested heavily in a televised commercial during the event, too – yet many questioned whether its witty, real time, much cheaper Twitter activity may have been more worthwhile for the company.

Creatively, timeliness and careful planning are all important factors for smaller companies looking to use social media in a clever way during milestone events. Make that extra effort and the results might pay off. Oreo had a dedicated 15-person social media team working on the day, ready to respond to whatever happened, and had prepared updates in advance to potentially share on the day.

Interestingly, during the London Olympics 2012, strict measures were put in place to prevent companies from indulging in ‘ambush marketing’ and to protect big-name sponsors, partners and sponsors which had collaboratively invested billions. Non-sponsors were warned to expect heavy fines if they violated any of the marketing laws or guidelines established by the various Olympic committees.

However, that didn’t stop gatecrashers using clever tactics to get around the rules – and subsequently getting away with it. For example, Beats Electronics instructed staff to ‘bump’ into Olympic athletes and give them a pair of free headphones, resulting in global TV exposure and appreciative tweets from athletes with over a million followers.

With the Super Bowl and Sochi Winter Olympics just around the corner, it will be interesting to see the savvy tactics employed by brands looking to cash in on the worldwide exposure with minimal investment.

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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