As the U.S. prepares for Super Bowl LVII, the marketing world is facing a shift in Super Bowl advertising. The coveted Half-Time TV spots — which cost millions of dollars for 30 seconds of time — were the focus of Super Bowl marketing for decades. However, with advancing technology and digital spaces, brands can deliver more interactive experiences than what traditional TV spots can offer.
Loyalty360 spoke with supplier members to discuss how some of the biggest trends in customer loyalty — like incorporating emotion or experiences — can play a role as one of the biggest events in marketing closes in.
Emotional Connection is Greater Than Product
Latest trends in customer loyalty show that consumers want to engage with brands who genuinely share their audiences’ cares and concerns. As a result, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has grown in prominence. Consumers want to feel good about using a brand’s products or services, not just with the quality of the offering, but with the social and ethical standards of the company.
Building an emotional connection with customers requires brands to understand what their audience cares about and then authentically engaging with those who care. Over the past few years, an increasing number of Super Bowl campaigns focused on building emotional connections with consumers rather than pushing a product.
As the Super Bowl closes in, brands need to focus on building emotional connections but not capitalizing on those connections. Authenticity is vital for brands, because customers recognize marketing tactics.
“Loyalty program members are smart — they are not looking for a brand to change itself just because the Super Bowl is coming,” says Christina Hurley, Director, Loyalty & CRM at Bounteous.
Customers want to feel like the brand cares about them, their interests, and their concerns. To learn what those are, brands need to rely on customer feedback and data. Building emotional loyalty requires that customers can see themselves authentically in brand marketing.
“Strong emotional connection is driven by showcasing people from all walks of life (race, color, creed) in brand messaging,” says Maeghan Krueger, Director of Strategic Services with The Lacek Group. “Inclusion is a key factor in brand messaging and can help emotion resonate with a broader audience.”
Skip the TV Spot; Interact with Fans
While a Super Bowl TV ad is a guarantee that millions of consumers will see it, there may be more effective ways for brands to spend their money. In fact, the Lacek Group recommends that brands limit their budget on paid advertising during the Super Bowl.
“Focus on real-time engagement,” says Krueger.
TV spots are limited. They provide exposure to the brand and its products, services, or ways it displays its CSR efforts. Additionally, they cost millions of dollars, so many brands can’t afford or justify the investment.
New trends in marketing are moving away from exposure and into engagement beyond a purchase. Interacting directly with customers using real-world or digital events, gamification, or social media gives people the opportunity to see the brand up close and personal. Especially around major marketing times like the Super Bowl, this kind of interaction can provide a brand with a competitive edge.
Krueger explains, “Live tweets or videos reacting to the game and commercials, Puppy bowl highlights, social media interaction, and community dialogue would be the best way to stay engaged without getting lost in the background noise.”
One of the best ways to develop this kind of interaction is to lean on customer loyalty. Only two teams made it to the Super Bowl, so for fans of the other teams, creating some kind game or experience for members gets them excited and talking about both the brand and the game.
“Leveraging the brand’s best assets (loyalty members) and social media (key brand influencers) can add up to a lot of excitement leading up to the Super Bowl,” says Hurley. “As long as the game delivers (and is brand authentic) this can be a winning combination for driving new members and engagement.”
Maintaining the Buzz After Super Bowl LVII
While planning authentic interactions with consumers is vital for the Super Bowl, it’s also vital after the big game. So, how can brands continue to capitalize on the engagement they received?
The most important aspect of developing an experiential approach is making sure the brand’s internal teams are aligned to the same goal and message. The customer receives the same communication from the marketing team that they do from store associates, social media, websites, or any other method the brand may use.
“Whether it’s the Super Bowl or not, a marketing campaign is just a marketing campaign,” says Eric Favaloro with Comarch. “It can be the most innovative one in history, but it will fail if customer interaction with the brand before/during/after the campaign is not seamless at all touchpoints.”
Additionally, brands can look to partnerships for the continual development of emotional loyalty. Brands who find other companies with similar CSR efforts and mutually beneficial products or services can use a partnership to generate more customer loyalty and engagement.
“Consumers love to see their favorite brands paring up and providing exclusive offers/co-branded experiences that are unique to our personal interests,” says Krueger.
Whether planning for the Super Bowl or maintaining excitement after the game, brands should look at ways to authentically engage with their loyal customers beyond pushing a product.