Going the Distance with OOH: Super Bowl 2021

With the Super Bowl only a few days away, the anticipation is definitely heightening. But this Super Bowl looks very, very different from all those that have come before it. The crowd capacity will be radically reduced, there will be no Super Bowl parties, the coaches and staff members on the sidelines will be masked up, and the players will all be Covid tested. A representative from Outfront Media’s Tampa Bay outpost that operates more than 1,800 digital and static billboards in the area, said OOH advertisers are operating with a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Based on the attendance guidelines set by the NFL this year, there will more than likely be last-minute buys of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) and OOH ad space.

In general, there will be less OOH advertising surrounding the Super Bowl, which comes as no surprise. However, there is still a desire by brands to be seen, as the Super Bowl is one of the biggest and most elaborate events of the year. Local activation director at Noble People, Mariana Skeadas, said the pandemic hasn’t impacted OOH in Tampa as aggressively as one might expect. Tampa Bay, Florida is relatively open in comparison to other states that have more intense Covid restrictions. The NFL has established two zones: one surrounding the Raymond James Stadium and the other encompassing the majority of downtown Tampa. This means that local restaurants and businesses inside the two zones have to apply for special permits to capitalize on the Super Bowl.

So, what’s in store for OOH advertising at the Super Bowl in these unprecedented times?

Local advertising will be huge

An image of a billboard with an ad for the Super Bowl.

Over the past year, local advertising has played a big role within the advertising industry because consumers haven’t really been leaving their own neighbourhoods. This will also play a huge role in the way that Super Bowl advertisers chose to display their ads. According to Anna Bager, president and CEO of the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), national brands will be present at the game, but it will be local advertisers that are going to be increasing their media share during the Super Bowl. Local businesses including restaurants, clothing stores, cafes, and bars are eager to reach all of the football fans that will be flocking into the city from the Tampa Bay-area to participate in the outdoor activities that will be taking place before and during the Super Bowl. That’s also why traditional highway billboards and digital formats are gaining the most bookings by local businesses right now.

More mobile trucks and DOOH

An image of a food truck with emphasis on the ad on the side of the truck for Vikings Table.

Due to the fact that the number of people that will be attending the Super Bowl, as well as those simply travelling to Tampa for the big event, will be severely limited this year, the goal of advertisers will be to target consumers where they’ll be – at home. Therefore, we’ll see a much larger investment in mobile advertising. Truck-side advertising is able to engage with people wherever they may be – at home, out and about, in neighborhoods, and downtown cores. With companies like Movia that have patented beacon technology connected to their trucks, targeting passersby is extremely effective. Big corporations like Tide and Amazon will be advertising in the form of commercials during the Super Bowl. But there are many companies who can’t afford the ad space on TV and there are only so many spots to fill. Truck-side advertising allows smaller companies the opportunity to get their name out there during one of the biggest ad opportunities of the year. Not only does truck-side advertising allow companies to get their name out there during the Super Bowl, it also brings advertisements to all the people who will not be able to attend the big event. People will be celebrating in the streets, at restaurants and pubs, and at home. This year’s Super Bowl is offering a very unique experience for advertisers and OOH agencies. Trucks, DOOH billboards, and AR integrations will be able to reach all the people outside of the stadium – wherever they may be watching. Picture this, you’re sitting at a table in a bar with your friends, the beers are flowing, and the Super Bowl game is in full swing. You look outside and you watch as a Michelob Ultra truck pulls by and you take notice because the ad was so vibrant and eye-catching, the next drink you order is a Michelob.

A giant billboard ad for the Super Bowl with Beyonce pursing her lips with the Pepsi colours on them.

DOOH will also make a big splash at this year’s Super Bowl. According to Anna Bager, “there is a lot of opportunity to change a message or creative daily, even within a few hours, based on current conditions. DOOH offers contextual relevant advertising by going off of location, consumer behavior and demographics.” Being able to switch between ads depending on consumer behaviour, the weather, and other such circumstances will be a huge benefit for advertisers this year. Consumers will be viewing ads exactly when they need to see them, making the viewing experience all the better. Not to mention that advertisers try their best to pull out all the stops when it comes to Super Bowl advertising. The ads will be all the more heartwarming, funny, and relatable this year because of the ability to be as precise as possible when it comes to targeting consumers, guaranteed.

Super Bowl’s past

Let’s now take a look at past Super Bowl ads that were spectacularly executed and extremely successful.

Pepsi takes on Coca-Cola – in rival territory!

An image of a Super Bowl billboard ad by Pepsi. Poking fun at Coca-Cola.

The 2019 Super Bowl took place in Atlanta, where Coca-Cola has its headquarters. However, Pepsi snagged the Super Bowl sponsorship and was all too eager to rub that in Coca-Cola’s face. Pepsi took out OOH billboards all over Atlanta, including an entire domination of one of Atlanta’s subway stations. The ads all played on the fact that Pepsi has come to Atlanta and dominated the city where Coca-Cola originated. Many of the ads simply said, “Pepsi in Atlanta. How Refreshing.”, others made jabs at Coca-Cola by saying, “Hey Atlanta, thanks for hosting. We’ll bring the drinks.”. The campaign was enormously popular not only because you couldn’t walk down a block in Atlanta without seeing a Pepsi advertisement, but also because of the not-so-subtle jabs at Coca-Cola that sparked loads of engagement. Pepsi was clever with their copy by referencing Coca-Cola without actually saying their name or referring to the brand at all. The campaign was simple yet had the ability to effectively convey their message without any miscommunication.

Speaking of Coca-Cola…

A bus-stop ad by Coca-Cola with two polar bears sitting down, waving, and cheersing their Coke bottles.

In the past, before the pandemic, brands and OOH advertisers have always supported online initiatives during the Super Bowland Coca-Cola is one of those companies. Using their signature polar bear characters, Coca-Cola placed them on DOOH billboards and in television ads in order to generate buzz about the Super Bowl and encourage the public to join the bears online on game day. During the Super Bowl, fans were able to log onto the website and watch the two bears react to the game in real time. The bears also engaged with viewers on Coca-Cola’s Twitter account, making Coke a very interactive brand during the Super Bowl. 

H&M capitalizes on their Super Bowl endorsement

Surrounding the Super Bowl, brands also decide to capitalize on the viewership and engagement by promoting their own products and services. When the Super Bowl took place in New York, H&M decided to paint a 150-foot image of David Beckham on 34th Street. The entire mural took the whole two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. The clothing brand also created massively sized H&M bags with David Beckham on them in front of the Tower of London, Covent Garden, and Victoria Station in London. These bags were then photographed and posted by David Beckham himself on Facebook with the caption, “You may have noticed these ‘small’ bags dotted around London today. Love them. Look out for my H&M Bodywear launch this week.”. The outdoor ad campaign was coupled with the television ad that aired during the Super Bowl, timing everything so that it coincided with the big game day. The campaign was a huge success in generating hype and excitement about the Super Bowl and, more importantly, H&M.

Madonna takes the stage

A large billboard DOOH ad for Madonna's new song. The ad is a bunch of images of Madonna's face overlayed with pinks and reds.

In order to promote her new single and music video called ‘Gimme All your Lovin’, Madonna created over 1,600 DOOH screens across the U.S., France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, Belgium, Finland, and the UK. At the same time, the song was played on various radio stations. The music video featured a bunch of cheerleaders and American football players and was released just a couple days ahead of her Super Bowl performance. The campaign was insanely successful, garnering mass amounts of social media recognition and in-person engagement. Through this campaign, it becomes evident that the Super Bowl can be used to promote a brand, or in this case an artist, and vice versa – both sides win.

Super Bowl good for local business

An image of a billboard ad for the Super Bowl. The ad displays two football players celebrating and their heads have been replaced with dog heads.

Tony Cioffi, Pennsylvania General Manager at Adams Outdoor Advertising, displayed his company’s support for the Eagles with a large billboard saying, “Good Boys! Super Bowl LII Champs.” The ad also displayed a photo of two football players, but their heads were replaced with dog heads. Tony states that, “Everybody benefits when your local team is in the Big Game!”.  He also said that his OOH ads in Leigh Valley have more than doubled in the past three weeks as the Eagles have made their run leading up to the Super Bowl. A team that makes it to the Super Bowl creates major revenue and publicity for the team’s hometown. This just goes to show that when it comes to the Super Bowl, everybody wins, advertisers and businesses alike.

To conclude

The Super Bowl will look very different this year, but that doesn’t mean advertisers can’t capitalize on the big game in new and creative ways. OOH advertising, specifically truck-side and DOOH will dominate Tampa this February – bringing quite the engagement, revenue stream, and excitement to the city. Local businesses, international companies, and everyone in between will be capitalizing on OOH advertising in order to reach those that will not and cannot attend the Super Bowl. OOH has been used in many Super Bowls in the past as an effective medium, this year we’ll see the industry sky-rocket in demand and I personally can’t wait to see what brands will have to show.

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