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Super Bowl Ad Tactics Your Bank or Credit Union Can Use for Marketing Strategy

Nida Ajaz
Feb 10, 2020 9:10:00 AM

There's three reasons people watch the super bowl:

For the game 🏈

For the food/snacks 🍕🍿

For the commercials 📺

However, I belong to a fourth category, watching the commercials AFTER the big game on ADWEEK solely for the purpose of understanding their marketing strategy.

Although, I am not an advocate of spending $5.6 million on one game day TV ad to get in front of millions, I do like to analyze what the companies’ goals are with their big spot. I also like to see how the commercials have played out with social conversations, reactions, and ratings, to really understand what resonated with the audience. 

After viewing/analyzing the Super Bowl commercials, and reading up on their results and the post-launch strategies that have rolled out, below are some of the tactics that I think banks and credit unions can incorporate when putting together a brand awareness or product marketing campaign

1. Powerful Stories for Marketing Strategy

We all know how important it is to tell genuine and engaging stories. Credit unions and community banks that are community focused can really tap into this by starting conversations and incorporating stories that are powerful and trigger some emotional response.

Then you can intertwine your product offering in a way that it is not sales-y or on the forefront of the messaging. This could mean you need to hire a professional writer, but I want you to consider spending as much time and money on the messaging as you do on acquiring time on the various marketing channels. 

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Google

Tagline: A little Help with the Little Things

How… just how can a company that started off as an online cataloging search engine figure out a way to tap into my emotions and make me cry within just 1 minute and 30 seconds?! There is so much emotion tied to a “Google Assistant” Remember feature! It's amazing!

Answer: Stories! Google told a story through their messaging and this story was emotional (#relationshipgoals). But it also advertised the voice activation feature for Google. Think about ways your institution's product changes someone’s life and what emotions are tied to this impact. The goal should be to create these stories around your product, not about your product.

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Microsoft

Tagline: When you have a dream, bring it to the Surface.

Talk about storytelling! While Google went with a more general story-line, Microsoft chose the historic moment of having Katie Sower, the first female coach in an NFL SuperBowl, and featured that story.

She is subtly using Microsoft Surface, but nothing about the product is in the script of the commercial. For banks and credit unions, look at the wins that are happening in your community. Who are the people that you can tell stories about who are empowering and making history?

Tell these same kinds of stories. Your institution is likely already collaborating, partnering and supporting your local communities, it’s time to tell better stories. 

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Kia

Tagline: Give It Everything.

Kia was another great example. This rags to riches story of Josh Jacobs can truly inspire others.

After the commercial Kia also released a documentary on Josh Jacobs’ life which took the marketing strategy even further and really reflected on how Josh embodies the ideal of “Give it Everything.” He really did give his all to get where he is today.

When companies and organizations start going beyond talking about their product, sharing powerful stories and inspiring others there is so much that people start connecting to within your brand. It no longer becomes a struggle to ask people to “Like” you. 

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: NFL 100 Years

Tagline: Here's to next 100

This commercial tied in all the old and new players and showed the way for the future of the next 100 years to come.

As one of Julie Ferguson’s favorite Super Bowl 2020 spots she mentions, “When you can envision the future, the outcome, it’s powerful. And that kid running with that big smile, everyone rooting him on, brought us all into his team. Cheering for success.” 

2. Social Responsibility Positioned for Marketing Strategy


Cone Communications published a report on Corporate Social Responsibility in 2017 and found that “89% of Americans would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality, compared with 66% in 1993.”

They also found that 79% of people continue to look for products that are socially and environmentally responsible. In this regard, when putting your branding, products, or marketing campaigns together, think of how these stats can inspire the true “people helping people” philosophy of community banking. 

“Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for."

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: OLAY

Tagline: Make Space for Women

Olay stood behind the message of making space for women in professional roles. With a fun play on words with the use of “space,” and incorporating a diverse cast of people in the ad, they drove the message home that they stand for empowering women. They also had a direct call to action to ask people to tweet with #makespaceforwomen and for every message a dollar will be donated to Girls Who Code with a dedicated landing page

On February 3rd Olay Tweeted:

A good cause can lead to this kind of change in your community if your marketing is used for driving that change. Community banks and credit unions typically giving back to the local community. Try to use your marketing efforts to promote these efforts and gain user participation or user-generated content to contribute to the strategy of giving back and see how the good will multiply.

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Weather Tech

Tagline: Lucky Dog

Another great example of giving back was in a commercial by WeatherTech.com. They shared Scout’s story, a dog used in their commercials in 2019. Weather Tech told Scout’s cancer survival story and how he has survived due to the great work that University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine is doing.

Then the company asked people to go to their website to donate 100% for a good cause. Their previous commercials have revolved mostly along their product feature, but with this one they focused on an amazing cause. 

Christopher Morris, Engagement Consultant at Credit Union National Association (CUNA) located in Madison, Wisconsin said: “I really liked the Weather Tech ad highlighting Scout the dog. The story raised a ton of attention to the local UW-Madison vet school, unpaid of course. So there was a local tie and also, who doesn't love dogs? Especially dogs that are cancer survivors? We can all rally behind that!”

3. Using Nostalgia in Your Marketing Strategy

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Cheetos

Tagline: It’s a Cheetos Thing

Would you rather have Cheetos fingers or Doritos breath?

The famous Cheetos finger syndrome is well known. What a great way for Cheetos to tie in nostalgia with something negative about the product and turn it into a hilarious benefit. Comments for their YouTube speaks volumes and probably exactly the reaction they were going for:

cheetos comments

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Jeep

Tagline: No day is the same in a Jeep Gladiator

Jeep was another one that played on the idea of nostalgia with the movie “Groundhog Day” and the idea behind how to exemplify and feature their Jeep in a person’s life whose day is exactly the same. There was a growing trend of the vehicle industry to incorporate these more engaging styles in their commercials compared to traditional car being driven and featured without a story-line.

Jeep using nostalgia and telling a story through the use of product allowed the audience to remember and engage with the brand. According to AdAge this commercial won the USA Today’s Adometer and noted that Super Bowl and GroundHog Day both fell on February 2 this year which was a cool tie in.

4. Leverage Pop Culture in Your Marketing Strategy

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Doritos 

Tagline: Doritos Cool Ranch just got cooler

Doritos took “cool ranch” flavor literally and played on the pop culture popularity of “Old Town Road” and with it’s dance showdown made a very entertaining spot.  Using singer and actors with higher influence and following in pop culture and social media to start conversations and really associating “cool” with their brand drove results for their spot.

Another great trend this year was the teasers a lot of brands launched and Doritos did a “Old Town Road” Monologue as part of their pre-launch strategy. Even if your credit union doesn’t have the budget to afford these major influencing celebrities, it may be a good idea to partner with local influencers to come up with a fun theme to communicate a cool feature on your product or share what drives your brand. 

doritos comments

5. Add an Element of Surprise in Your Marketing Campaigns: 

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Turbo Tax

Tagline: All People are Tax People

No one, absolutely no one wants to talk about doing taxes especially during the big game. Turbo Tax created a unique number and dance to go with it, all explaining the feature of how you can conveniently do taxes with Turbo Tax. They then encouraged influencers to repeat the dance moves and post on social media to reflect their Super Bowl Ad.

It was definitely a conversation starter and also led to a brief moment of silence as people were reminded of this very important responsibility which they were trying to get away from with the game, snacks and commercials. Oh! The irony! But taking a step further, Turbo Tax continues to play up on the latest social media trends with the latest one of balancing a broom:

When making social media posts, reinforce your brand with using social media viral trends to get the point across about your product. Partner with local artists to come up with a jingle and a special credit union dance to get out of the “best kept secret” realm.

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Quicken Loans - Rocket Mortgage

Tagline: Home is Where you feel most comfortable

One of the most talked about spots this season has been the Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage Commercial. Mike Lawson from CU Broadcast agrees: “Really enjoyed how he transformed into the "real Jason" once he got home, peeling off his muscles, hair, etc. And then playing the sit down guitar and trying to lift the barbell. Hilarious.”

The amazing thing once I started digging around on the follow-up strategy for various companies is that they had a lot of great things tied to extend the life of the spot that would run beyond the Super Bowl day itself. Just by quickly browsing Instagram, they also had a huge sweepstakes contest going parallel to the commercial launch and helping drive traffic. They launched a results video showcasing what was happening as the game day came along and broadcast their results for a successful campaign. 

Looking back in a short history though, just a couple of years ago Rocket Mortgage’s 2016 super bowl commercial which focused specifically on advertising the convenience of mortgage loan backfired on them. They were criticized for advertising ease of getting a mortgage as loose mortgage lending standards which later the Company had to go back and defend. Regardless they still claimed the spot as a win as it drove traffic to their website and mobile app.

It is interesting to compare the two spots and see how leading the conversation with a surprise element and putting focus on something to disrupt conversations was a more profitable approach than focus on a feature of a product. How can you disrupt the market by driving  your brand message rather than focus on just a product feature?

6. Magnify a common situation/conversation in Your Marketing Campaigns

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Hyundai Sonata Smart Park 

Tagline: Bettah drives us.

Being a short distance from LA, I would totally love a Smart Park feature on my car! Hyundai's product feature was already worthy of starting conversations but adding celebrities and really magnifying the Boston accent to relay that feature was hilarious. An article on Yahoo! Finance shared that "Hyundai's commercial also drove digital activity for the brand and consumer interest in the all-new Sonata.

HyundaiUSA.com web traffic spiked significantly during the hour of the commercial and nearly 250,000 people have visited the Sonata landing page as a result of the commercial. In addition, web tracking on leading car shopping sites revealed that Hyundai traffic on Edmunds.com had a 6,982 percent lift, while on Cars.com Hyundai received a 961 percent surge in traffic to its car model pages during the game."

Strategic Marketing Ad Example: Coca Cola

 Tagline: Show Up

Coca Cola also played up the common situation of people flaking out last minute and magnifying the three-dotted message typing that we all wait for when someone is thinking of an excuse to ditch out on us. With the tagline of  “show up”, they had really good use of showing how boosting energy through their energy drink can lead to showing up for people waiting or depending on you.

You should try to think of a message in everyday life, something that bothers you ,and relate it to how your product can be advertised in a clever way to solve that minuscule problem in a grand way.

It may seem daunting to even try to live up to the scope and scale of these ads and how credit unions can truly use some of these strategies. Mark Arnold from On The Mark Strategies is on point as he shared he wants credit unions to focus on building their brand vision, messaging and targets. I believe that is an important step for credit unions to first define their brand beyond just a logo and brand colors. The understanding that brand image already exists for each of your organizations and all stakeholders from employees to customers are contributing to that image.

You should also keep in mind the following when starting a new marketing initiative:

  1. Have specific goals for the campaign and define metrics that will help track results to reach these goals
  2. Create a pre-launch and post-launch strategy
  3. Define the channels that will be used for the campaign
  4. Define the specific Call-To-Actions for each of the channels
  5. Track the conversations and results

The key takeaways from this blog are strategies that you can incorporate with some of the marketing you may have already invested in with your marketing budget this year, and coming up with engaging campaigns/content for those marketing efforts. Think of pre-launch and post-launch strategies. Form metrics to measure the outcomes from these investments and channels. Create goals for the marketing efforts to reinforce your brand and the perception you want the stakeholders to have. Partner with local influencers to help drive some of the conversations forward with their following. Track the results and improvise. Remember, the message is as important as the medium.

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