For 364 days a year, we block TV ads with the full fury of defensive linemen. One might slip through now and then only to remind us to increase our vigilance, to prerecord more shows, or avoid network TV altogether. But one day a year, we suddenly welcome ads into our living rooms like long-lost friends. We celebrate their arrival and even shush the crowd when a pre-hyped ad unfolds. It is no wonder then that many B2C brands suck up the $200,000 per-second cost to assert themselves into the American psyche.
But what about B2B brands? How can companies like Squarespace, Hologic, Monday.com, Gong, and Quickbooks justify spending $6 million in 30 seconds? Will the awareness they might gain actually provide a return on investment? Clearly, these are big, courageous bets. Would you have the courage to go to your board and recommend investing in a SuperBowl ad?
Keep in mind that the ad cost is just part of the investment. To really capitalize on the SuperBowl you’ll need:
- A great ad (usually not an inexpensive endeavor)
- A well-planned PR effort to capitalize on the pre-game and post-game hype
- A social media team that is ready to engage in real-time*
- A search campaign to make sure you show up when viewers look for you on their mobile devices
- A website that won’t crash when traffic inevitably spikes
*Sprout Social’s 2022 Super Bowl listening data shows that in the month before game day, there were nearly 30,000 engagements with over 2,500 Super Bowl ad-related tweets. Squarespace alone was mentioned in more than 1,900 tweets, largely due to their Zendaya connection (more on that shortly).
Additionally, you’ll want to get your employees and your customers excited before it’s showtime. So, yes, advertising on the SuperBowl is a big undertaking, one requiring a huge amount of planning and chutzpah, atypical elements in B2B marketing.
So, we’re now back to the question, how do these B2B brands justify a Superbowl investment? Let’s go through them one at a time.
Squarespace, for starters, is joining the big dance for the eighth time, something you wouldn’t do if it didn’t payout. Their stated target audience of “creators and entrepreneurs” is certainly amongst the 90 million or so viewers. But perhaps just as importantly, so are investors (Squarespace is a public company), future employees, and influencers like the media. To take even more risk out of the equation, Squarespace is featuring Zendaya in their ad, the ubiquitous celebrity who also claims to be a long-time user.
On the opposite side of the risk spectrum is Hologic, a relatively unknown MedTech brand that focuses on women’s health issues. Not only is this Hologic’s first SuperBowl ad, but also it’s their first TV ad of any kind. And they too have taken the celebrity route by featuring Mary J. Blige in their 30-second spot. Clearly, their marketing team comes from the “go super or go home” school. The hoped-for payout? First, with 46% of the Superbowl audience being women, Hologic will reach more of their target in one day than they could if they made buys on the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys combined. Second, their buyers, hospitals, and doctor’s offices, no doubt are in the audience as well. Will this gargantuan B2C2B bet pay out? Time will tell.
Next up is workflow software company Monday.com, which is joining the Super Sunday roster for the first time. And even though Monday is hedging a bit by “only” buying placement in 19 US markets (roughly 40% US coverage), it’s still a multi-million dollar investment that must be rationalized. But how? Well, they are certainly reaching potential buyers (i.e. business execs) and no doubt thousands of current and potential end-users. And like Squarespace, Monday.com is a relatively new public company (their IPO was June 2021), so maybe they’re banking on its appeal to the investor community as well. In sum, Monday must be hoping to make itself an everyday brand for a broad range of businesses.
Gong.io is a repeat contender, this time entering with a bang, literally! Their creative approach tells the whole story. They seek broad-reaching name recognition among users, customers, prospects, and the investor community (an IPO is certainly an option they’ll be considering). To get that level of awareness, Gong turned its name into a mnemonic device, with actors hitting more gongs in thirty seconds than Chuck Barris did in the four years of hosting his once-famous talent show. Whether anyone remembers what Gong.io actually does remains to be seen, but mark my words, the sale of the metallic metal instrument (especially in earring form) is about to explode.
And finally, we have Quickbooks, another rookie. Parent company Intuit is not new to the big game, having advertised its TurboTax brand in 2021, so clearly, that experience emboldened them to put its accounting software in front of the largest audience of the year. But why? Will bookkeepers and accountants for small businesses be watching in abundance? In short, you bet. And so will small business owners. Enough to rationalize wreaking havoc with their balance sheets? Again, time will tell. Visit sites like https://www.fourlane.com/intuit-quickbooks-enterprise/ to know more about the sofware.
The bottom line – B2B brands advertising on the SuperBowl is the equivalent of a “Hail Mary” pass. It might work out amazingly well, but you can’t be sure until there’s no time left on the clock.
P.S. My vote for the best B2C ad?
Having watched at least 30 of the ads expected to appear on the Superbowl, one stands above the others. It features Scarlett Johansson and her partner Colin Jost as delightful homebodies in what could be described as Liar Liar meets the Amazon Echo. It’s already garnered over 20 million views on YouTube and for good reason: it’s clever, funny, surprising, and riveting. Witnessing megastar Johansson in everyday situations is simply irresistible and unforgettable.