Don’t have $6m+ for a Super Bowl ad? Don’t worry – other marketing strategies work just as well

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Bid On Equipment
Source: Bid On Equipment

Related tags: Super bowl, Advertising, Meal kits

For many Americans watching the Super Bowl Feb. 2, what food and beverages are served is just as important, if not more so, than who wins the Big Game – making the sporting event a pivotal marketing moment for brands across categories to lift sales and build broader brand awareness.

The Super Bowl is the second biggest eating holiday of year in the US, generating roughly $15 billion in consumer spending last year, according to Statista​. It notes that last year, most Americans did not plan on attending or hosting a Super Bowl party, and yet on average they still spent about $81 per person on the event, roughly 79% of which when to food and beverage.

This year, just over half of Americans plan to go to a Super Bowl party (36%) or host a party (15%), while the remaining will either watch the game from home (43%) or at a bar or restaurant (7%), according to a survey of 1,224 Americans, conducted by food and beverage equipment company Bid On Equipment. To keep their guests happy or to contribute to a hosts’ offerings, Americans plan to spend on average $69 each on Super Bowl food this year and $174 on average to host a Super Bowl Party, the survey​ revealed.

The survey also revealed the top snacks and dishes that Super Bowl viewers are likely to stock up on before the Big Game.

“According to our analysis, Super Bowl fans across the country love their dips. Overall, dip was the most popular food or snack in 20 states, but one dip in particular reigns supreme – the seven layer dip,”​ according to Bid On Equipment. “Coming in at a close second is buffalo chicken dip, which was the most popular in six states.”

Hot cheese dip, blue cheese dip and lobster dip also qualified as the most popular Super Bowl food in several states, according to the survey.

Beyond dip, Bid On Equipment reports, “the cocktail wiener takes the trophy home for being No. 1 in the most amount of states.”​ Other popular options, including barbecue or garlic Parmesan wings, nachos, sliders, pigs in a blanket, potato skins and sliders.

For marketers, the Super Bowl, which attracts an increasingly diverse viewership, is a golden opportunity and one that many brands are seizing – even if they can’t afford the approximate $5.6m necessary to secure a 30-second television spot during the event.

Combine online and offline marketing for maximum results

According to Marketing Charts, 48.3m people in 2017 posted on Facebook and Twitter about the Super Bowl – a number that likely has increased each year since then – making social media a less expensive, but still effective, marketing option.

Among the many brands leveraging this option is the clean-label dressings, dips, cheese and drink maker Litehouse Foods, which created a promo landing page​ for consumers with game day dip inspiration, recipes, snacking facts and a store locator to help them find the company’a products.

Camille Balfanz, senior manager at Litehouse, also notes the brand is “working with social influencers and content creators to develop game day recipes during the promotion, which will support our #WinWithLitehouse social campaign, and increase visibility for our discount pricing at retailer, Instacart delivers and more.”

She explained that from Jan. 19-Feb. 8, consumers can visit Litehouse online to enter the “Game Day MVP” sweepstakes for a chance to win daily prizes, including a 65-inch television, $250 worth of pizza, a week’s worth of groceries and other prizes, including a gallon of the consumer’s favorite Homestyle Ranch.

Of course, not everyone will be glue to their phones or computers leading up to and during the Big Game, which is one reason why Litehouse also is increasing its offline engagement with consumers.

Balfanz explained that the brand hopes to lift overall brand awareness and support its retailer partners and the RSD category by hitting the road during the Big Game with the #RanchtotheRescue Dressing Mobile, which she says will bring free deliveries of its Homestyle Ranch and Chunky Blue Cheese dressings to eligible consumers in the Seattle area.

“Nearly one in three Americans have run out of ranch or blue cheese on game day,”​ Balfanz said, siting results from a survey Litehouse commissioned. “At Litehouse, we’re doing our part to make consumers the MVP of their game day parties – even if they run out of dip or forget to grab it at the store.”

While some of these tactics may sound more flashy than substantive, Balfanz said Litehouse and its retail partners see substantial lifts in January and February thanks in part to the business opportunity around the Super Bowl.

“Retailers promoting Litehouse see up to a 40% increase in sales. By inspiring consumers with recipes and meal ideas for game day and driving them in-store to purchase, we’re increasing the overall basket size and supporting category growth,”​ she said.

Blue Apron offers an alternative to ready-made snacks

Running out of food, as indicated by Litehouse, is a real problem for hosts – but it is not the only threat to the success of the Super Bowl parties, according to meal kit delivery company Blue Apron.

“When we asked customers what is the biggest barrier to them hosting a Super Bowl party – or a dinner party in general – the comments always center on the pressures. They are afraid of running out of food, running out of time and not having enough variety on the table to satisfy different people’s needs,”​ John Adler, VP of culinary at Blue Apron, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“Those are all things we feel very confident in designing around,”​ he added, pointing to the company’s Game Day Party Eats box as an example.

He explained the special Super Bowl meal kit, which goes for $99.99 and is available for ordering through Jan. 22, serves six to eight people and is designed to be as stress-free as possible.

“We developed a game plan and give you a very clear order of operations. We tell you things that you can make the day ahead …and then finish the day of,”​ and we created five recipe cards that can easily be divided among guests to spread the fun and minimize the stress, he said.

The recipes, all of which are Southern tailgate inspired, also “take people on arc,”​ with deviled eggs as a small amuse bouche to eat when guests walk in the door, followed by shrimp lettuce cups as an appetizer, creamy kale dip and pita chips and pimento cheese flatbreads to eat while glued to the TV for the first half of the game and BBQ chicken sandwiches for the second half.

From a business perspective, Adler says the game day box is a way for Blue Apron to reach new people who have never heard of or tried a meal kit, but who are able to experience it when they show up at a friend or family member’s home for the Super Bowl.

“We know that anytime that people gather around food, that’s an opportunity for us … to add value to the experience,”​ Adler said.

He also added that by exposing more people to Blue Apron during the Super Bowl, the company hopes to plant the seed for using meal kits during other upcoming events, such as March Madness or college football plays.

More broadly, he added, the company hopes that larger meal kits centered on special events will also show people that cooking can be fun, and that they will be inspired to cook more on weeknights as well – opening the door for purchasing meal kits beyond date night or parties.

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