super bowl advertising alternativeIt’s the biggest sports show of the year. With 100+ million viewers in the U.S. alone, the Super Bowl is one of the most coveted slots when it comes to advertising. Plenty of consumers turn on the game just to watch the commercials. On the Monday following the big game, commercials are deconstructed, rehashed and dissected around the water cooler. They are reviewed and discussed on blogs—almost as much as the actual football game, more so if the game turns out to be a dud.

However, not all brands are stoked to advertise their wares during the Super Bowl. First, many of them can’t cough up the ad budget needed to produce and air a Super Bowl spot. With 30-second ads going for at least $4 million each, a brand usually has to boast a large advertising pocketbook in order to afford any kind of airtime. Of course, there are some brands whose products and services don’t have a legitimate connection to the Super Bowl, at least as far as advertising goes.

So, what’s a brand to do when it doesn’t have the financial means or inclination to advertise during the Super Bowl? As it turns out, there’s a lot that can be done, and some marketers can even use the event to their advantage. For instance, several companies have learned how to capitalize on how many people simply are not interested in watching the game.

While their spouses and friends tune in, they look for something else to do. This is a great time for brands to reach potential consumers via social media and other online channels. The consumer who is not a football fan, after all, will be amenable to most any message that is not football related.

Savvy brands can use this scenario to their advantage through their social media accounts. The Super Bowl broadcast is an excellent time during which to run sweepstakes and raffles via targeting and talking to the people who are not interested in the game.

You may want to even run “Un” Super Bowl campaign designed to generate attention among non-football fans. Animal Planet, for instance, does this brilliantly, by staging a “Puppy Bowl” each year during the big game.

For the “Puppy Bowl,” various shelter puppies are put onto a faux football field, wrestle with each other and do all of the adorable things that puppies usually do. It’s incredibly effective and entertaining programming, and the rescue puppy factor adds an altruistic element to Animal Planet’s branding efforts. It’s a perfect example of a brand that’s capitalizing on the fact that not everyone loves the Super Bowl, and some people actively seek media alternatives on TV and online.

If there is a way that you can entertain your audience(s) on Super Bowl Sunday, it can be an effective PR strategy. Zig when the rest of the marketing world wants to zag.

Restaurants, for example, can offer free items, pulling in all of the customers who want something to do besides watch a cumulative of 60 minutes of football and five hours of commercials. Consumers who are not football fans can be won over by brands that demonstrate loyalty and trust while everyone else is breaking down the game.

Once a brand begins to see what a truly great opportunity Super Bowl Sunday can be, it should start working on a unique, customized program or campaign designed to win customers who are bored while everyone else watches the gridiron.

The power of social media should be harnessed to reach out to these people, and then brands can follow up with them once they determine who among them is engaged with the message.

In an advertising world where big, expensive commercials reign, providing a unique and alternative message can better distinguish your brand, entertain existing customers and land new ones.

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