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And the Winner of the Super Bowl Marketing Award is …….

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The company that did the best job conveying it’s Brand Image, Product and Service offerings, leveraging cross-sell, up-sell and any other “sell you can think of” opportunities and did so in an entertaining, highly integrated manner that should make all marketers sit back and reflect on the opportunities they missed on a daily basis. And the winner was, none other than the host of the event – – FOX.

Every company – and particularly Fox’s media competitors – should take notice of how Fox leveraged its investment in NFL football and its sponsorship of the greatest social spectacular invented by mortals. As the event played on, I became less interested in the vitamin water horsing around, lackluster auto hybrids and gratuitous Go-Daddy ads and more interested in how Fox made the most efficient use of promoting its programming and other media properties to the millions of “captive eyeballs”. And they did so in interesting ways that integrated not only the NFL, its players and the Super Bowl, but also its advertisers to promote the various Fox properties. Importantly, they were true to their Brand identity – consistently using technology and edgy creative to support their sports and entertainment programming and a brilliant rendition of the Declaration of Independence supporting the American values of patriotism, equality and support of our armed forces, which sounds like Fox News. (Whether you like Fox News or not, this is what they do)
Unfortunately, I was not prescient enough to realize what I was about to witness, so I must rely on recall – and I am confident I can recall more of their tie-in opportunities than I can the commercials! Let me count the ways:

1. The pre-game show was different from previous years and attempted to replicate the Academy Awards. It was filled with interesting features all hosted by various Fox personalities including Ryan Seacrest as the MC, Jillian Barberie providing an insider’s view of the Super Bowl “Hot” Parties and interviews with celebrities and former football players hosted by non-football Fox personalities from the various Fox Groups. They turned the time prior to the game into a social event, not just 5 hours of football “talking heads” and leveraged all of their assets to do so.
2. Next, American Idol winner Jordan Sparks, whose father was a former pro football player, was front and center for the Star Spangled Banner. Later, Fox and Idol used Ben Roethlisberger, a recent Super Bowl star, to hawk American Idol. Some have said Ben qualified for the worst performance; however they miss the point of why Americans like the first few weeks of Idol so much – they can relate to the bad singers, can’t imagine embarrassing themselves like this and certainly can’t understand why the contestants would put themselves in this position. Great job Ben!
3. Joe Buck prominently and frequently reminded people to go to MySpace.com to see any commercials they may have missed. Nice way to help the advertisers get additional exposure; and by the way, Fox owns it.
4. Leveraging the imagery and equity of the Fox Football robots to tie into the sponsorship by the Sara Connor Chronicles (Terminators) and staying with the metal theme to hawk the start of NASCAR.
5. The selection of Tom Petty for the Halftime Show not only resulted in great entertainment, but enabled Fox to plug King of the Hill a Fox Show featuring Petty as the voice of Luke, one of the animated stars.
6. Finally, Hugh Laurie doing his version of Tom Petty setting up his special broadcast of House following the Super Bowl.
I could go on and on. The point is, networks buy sports properties to sell their programming. Fox did a great job of doing this and doing it in a way that fit with its brand image.
How many companies / large brands can honestly say they integrate their marketing efforts or take advantage of every opportunity to deliver their brand consistently as well as Fox did during the Super Bowl. Most companies fail to do so because they don’t plan far enough out or are unable to cut across functional walls or multiple Divisions within their organizations. Yet, this was not an issue for Fox – they cut across multiple Divisions to integrate and cross promote – and the consumer knew it was coming from Fox, as it had edge and was bold and in your face – what Fox sells.
My hat’s off to Fox – I am quite confident they will continue to print money while their competitors continue to face challenges. We can all learn a marketing lesson from the Super Bowl.

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