With Super Bowl ads running $4 million a pop for a 30 second spot, only the world's biggest brands can afford to advertise during the Big Game.
But a small brand-Newcastle Brown Ale-has found an ingenious way to subvert the process while poking fun some traditional marketing clichés. (It is worth noting however, that Heineken owns the Newcastle brand.)
"This is one of the biggest seasons for beer drinkers," says Newcastle Brand Manager Priscilla Dohnert. "But we can't afford $4 million, so how can we get people to talk about our beer?"
Newcastle's unconventional Super Bowl campaign began last year with the then-theme, "If We Made It." Working in conjunction with award-winning ad agency Droga5, the duo created a digital campaign featuring a video ad Anna Kendrick, best known for her roles in Pitch Perfect, and Up In the Air with George Clooney.
In the Newcastle ad, Kendrick talks about how she's not "beer commercial hot," but is willing to do it for the money, even though "it's not a beer I even drink":
Kendrick goes on to say that when they were just days away from shooting, the company called to say that they didn't have any money. "Disappointing---because I was really looking forward to the paycheck," she deadpans.
In addition to the digital ad, Newcastle created a website called "If We Made It. Com," that featured storyboards spoofing other brands' ads, as well as a Twitter handle and Facebook page with the "If We Made It" moniker.
This year, Newcastle decided that the theme was to get other brands to pitch in on a Super Bowl ad. "Last year, the theme was 'this is how great our ad could have been if we could afford it.' This year, we're going to do whatever we could to get in," says Dohnert.
The new social and digital campaign, "Band of Brands" features actress Aubrey Parks, better known for her role as April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation, and plays on the notion of the sharing economy and crowd funding. In the video ad, Plaza strolls though a bucolic countryside replete with an adorable dog and a studly cowboy, (two enduring Super Bowl marketing clichés), and talks about how Newcastle and other smaller brands could afford a Super Bowl spot if they all banded together:
Part call-to-action and part spoof, the latest Newcastle campaign has been a hit among brands and consumers. "Three hundred and fifty brands from around the world tried to get into the ad," says Dohnert. "And so far, we've had over 4 million views for all of the videos to date, and over a billion PR impressions."
And those numbers should climb, given the release this week of the final campaign ad that features 37 brands including Armstrong Flooring, Beanitos Chips, Bounty, Quilted Northern, Lee Jeans, and Jockey in the 60-second spot:
While the free publicity generated by this clever ad campaign is worth its weight in gold, Dohnert says that it has helped to boost beer sales tremendously for the little-known brown ale.
"Obviously we don't have the numbers in yet for this year, but last year we saw a big increase in retail sales," she says. "We're not only having fun," she adds, "But we are also selling more beer. "