eSurance used effective strategy to drive the most value from a less-than optimal Super Bowl ad timeslot

Drive Value Through Strategic Thinking About Super Bowl Advertisements

The Super Bowl itself may not have been much fun to watch, particularly if you were pulling for the Denver Broncos. That said, I love watching it not just for the game but also to see what ideas creative marketers come up with to convince you to do something.

For me, the clear winner of the night was an advertisement that many may not have seen but have heard about since it aired. This ad was for eSurance and featured spokesman John Krasinski. You can watch the commercial below:

Many marketers place a premium on the amount of exposure an advertisement receives in its native medium. For them, prime placement is crucial. The eSurance advertisement turns this preconception on its head, indicating that a message doesn’t have to be seen on television in order for it to be effective. eSurance chose to think strategically, placing its ad after the Super Bowl instead of during it, thus saving themselves from spending obscene amounts of money for a large initial TV exposure. As a result, the company achieved superior value for its decision.

What makes the eSurance ad work so effectively is that it’s clear the company put strategy first and crafted the ad content around it. Let’s look at a couple of facets of the campaign:

  1. The offer matches the brand message.
  2. eSureance puts a premium on communicating to consumers how they can save money using its online insurance product rather than going a more traditional route to secure insurance. By deliberately placing the ad in a position where it may not be seen by as many people at first blush (and saving money in the process!) eSurance effectively reinforced what it does without having to come up with a flashy concept or humorous “skit” to sell its brand.

  3. The ad has a clear, compelling call to action.
  4. eSurance instructs you to send a tweet using the #eSuranceSave30 hashtag for a chance to enter its contest and win a substantial amount of money. In fact, it’s the substantial amount of money eSurance saved by not airing its ad until after the Super Bowl was over. While incorporating its brand name into the hashtag required to enter the contest likely engages a number of people who have no real interest in eSurances’s services, it definitely does help extend the visibility of the eSurance brand.

  5. The call to action promoted brand engagement
  6. I’ve lost track of the number of tweets I’ve seen imploring people to follow eSurance – that the company “deserves” more followers if it’s going to give away all of this cash. eSurance promoted the commercial before the big event. It engaged brand partners to spread the word. It had sports celebrities and notable Twitter personalities creating buzz about the eSurance brand. Even after the the contest was over, more than three days after the Super Bowl, there were still tens of thousands of tweets containing the eSurance brand message floating around the Internet.

Is the strategy here flawless? eSurance could have done a better job promoting the contest and driving interactions through its social channels. If you go to the eSurance YouTube channel, you won’t even see the initial advertisement.

That said, over 3,000,000 entries were generated using the hashtag, and a newlywed, soon-to-be father from northern California was awarded the cash prize. The value eSurance derived from its decision amplified its brand message through a platform that disproportionately serves its target market. Scores of fake “eSurance” Twitter accounts popped up for their own purposes encouraging people to use the hashtag, but those efforts only amplified the message more because eSurance’s call to action contained its brand message – that you save money using eSurance. While the company will wind up spending as much as if it had run an ad during the Super Bowl, eSurance is receiving exponentially more exposure in a targeted medium because it took a strategic approach to determine the best use of a “Super Bowl ad” to promote its brand message.

Creative messages are awesome, and figuring out where your customers are is very important. However, applying a strategic approach to best leverage your creative to communicate your brand message to the most relevant prospects across all relevant channels is where you generate value. While eSurance didn’t necessarily have the funniest or most creative ad placed in the optimal window during the Super Bowl, it did find the most effective way to use the medium.

Do you think another advertiser used better strategic thinking than eSurance when crafting its Super Bowl advertising message? Let us know who you think the best job and why in the comments below!

Marketing

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