How to Make a Super Bowl Ad People Still Share a Week After the Game

By Jeff Barrett

Social

Have you ever wanted to know how a Super Bowl campaign was made? Well, here’s your chance. Brett Craig, executive creative director at Deutsch, gave me the inside scoop on the top secret plan they created for Taco Bell’s new Quesalupa.

Few brands have adapted to the changing social media landscape better than Taco Bell. How brands reach an audience has undoubtedly changed. We live in a world now where Deadpool had a $135 million opening weekend. And Deadpool loves chimichangas.

Deutsch, like they often do, took a different path for this year’s Super Bowl ad. Five years ago they used “The Force” to make people like Volkswagen. This year, they thought outside the bun.

Q&A with Deutsch’s Brett Craig

Your content is always daring and unique. What is Deutsch’s creative process? How does your approach to content differ?

It starts with strategy. Pete Favat likes to say, “Strategy is the idea.” And we insist that those strategies be tension-filled and push off an “enemy.” In the case of Taco Bell breakfast, we pushed off McDonald’s. In the case of Super Bowl, we pushed off of culture itself and the absurd—but true—notion that in America, anything and anyone can assume the cultural throne for a moment in time—a silly meme, a cat video, a celebrity meltdown, and yes, even a taco. Which led to the notion of #biggerthan, which is a purposefully absurd thing to suggest: that the Quesalupa could be bigger than anything.

Bigger Than… | 2016 Taco Bell® Quesalupa Big Game CommercialThe Quesalupa. #BiggerThan everything?

Posted by Taco Bell on Sunday, 7 February 2016

We filter our content against two things: is it original? And is it sharable? And we’re talking about that in the context of all content, not just advertising content. After all, we are not just competing against advertising content, but against ALL content on the web. When you understand that and you ask those two questions (is it original and shareable?), it forces our ideas to become more provocative and tension-filled—because they have to be in order to break through.

Very few Super Bowl commercials are remembered one week after the game. How do you create content that rises above the noise and sticks?

As far as the Super Bowl commercial itself, we don’t look at Super Bowl as an opportunity to simply air a :30 spot, we see it as a massive platform to be leveraged in its totality. That means starting a conversation that begins well before Super Bowl Sunday and hopefully extending that conversation well beyond Sunday.  All of the content is created to stoke the conversation.

This year, we started the conversation with a redacted press release announcing that we would debut a brand new “mystery” product in the Super Bowl. We followed that up with teaser content where the celebrities in the spot were holding green-screen bricks because they weren’t even told what the product was that they were making a commercial for. We then offered people the chance to pre-order this “mystery” product and about 50,000 took us up on it and pre-ordered a product without knowing what it was. All of this created PR and conversation and we did that without ever releasing the actual Super Bowl commercial till the game—going against the prevailing wisdom of how brands approach Super Bowl.

Speaking about the Super Bowl commercials themselves, of course, certain types of spots seem to climb the Admeter consistently, but for us, that is not the only—or even most important—goal. There are other metrics to consider that are vastly more important to us—social chatter/buzz and whether your audience engaged with the work—these are of greater significance.

How important, from a digital perspective, are the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl for an advertiser?

Super Bowl is all about anticipation. The moment it’s over, it’s like a hangover, people are happy to put it in the rear view mirror and barely give it another thought. You want to leverage that anticipation, which is why we released the VW Mini-Darth ad early, because in 2011, Deutsch saw that media had a huge appetite to know what’s happening with the spots and what they can expect from advertisers. So why not leverage that? And with that much interest, the team decided to pre-release it for the first time. The next day, the ad got millions of views leading up [to] The Big Game. That changed everything. It set a trend for advertisers to pre-release Super Bowl spots, making it the norm the last few years. But that’s only one way to leverage this platform called Super Bowl and we’re always looking for “new math” in terms of how we approach it, hence Taco Bell’s zig/zag this year.

Do you think the role of social media stars and organic content creators is expanding in advertising? If so, how?

It already has. Social media stars and organic content creators play a significant part in advertising today, and the big game is no exception. These content creators are actually a major component of strategy for Deutsch’s Taco Bell campaign this year as the brand released its biggest food innovation yet—The Quesalupa. In the teaser spots leading up to the game, we leveraged influencers like James Harden, Giorgio Tsoukalos and the Texas Law Hawk to build anticipation around both the spot and Taco Bell’s new product. We also tapped into influencers to create a Taco Bell Brand “Live Story” on Snapchat which generated 2.6 million views.

The role of digital is growing even within the traditionally TV-focused Super Bowl. Case and point, the opening scene in the Super Bowl spot featured Hayes Grier, a prominent influencer. While the average American would never have caught it, Taco Bell’s audience did and was compelled to Tweet about it to all their friends. Influencers will continue to play a role in advertising because influencers are, frankly, shaping culture.

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