February 13, 2023

5 B2B marketing insights from Super Bowl 2023

Karen Gould
super bowl lvii dog holding football


Imagine having more than 200 million sets of eyes glued to your brand’s message. While most organizations will never field a Super Bowl commercial, you don’t need a seven-figure ad spot to tackle big marketing goals.

Here are the five moves any B2B organization can learn from the Super Bowl advertising playbook.

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

If we were to describe the ad lineup this year, we’d say “star-studded.” Brands leaned hard into recognizable spokespeople in their pursuit of conversation-driving moments, but star power doesn’t always equal results if your representative can’t connect with your audience. When you enlist a public figure for your brand, their value — and your ROI— relies on their relationship with your key audiences.

Whether it’s B2C or B2B, people buy from people. So credibility matters. Does the face of your brand have a right to talk about your product or service? B2B brands with highly specific audiences may not benefit from working with someone like Jennifer Lopez (although we always love some JLo!). So instead of dropping the big bucks on a celebrity endorsement, seek brand partners who are respected leaders or active participants in your industry’s community. Their established relationships will help clear your path down the field.

The brand that did it right: DEXCOM

Dexcom checked both the celebrity and credibility boxes with Nick Jonas, a highly recognizable celebrity who has been vocal about his experiences with Type 1 diabetes. He’s walking the walk right alongside Dexcom’s target audience.


Authenticity, Authenticity, authenticity

We’ve had love authenticity on the brain lately, and this year’s Super Bowl ads just reinforced our belief that authenticity is one of your most important brand elements. If you aren’t maintaining an authentic tie to your brand, the message might be a fumble.

Authenticity reinforces expertise and grows trust. When brands push a message that isn’t authentic, their position as experts quickly erodes, pushing interested customers away. B2B brands looking to incorporate B2C-style sparkle need to remember that while the entertainment factor is important, it should never come at the expense of your core brand tenets.

THE BRAND THAT DID IT RIGHT: TURBOTAX

At first glance, TurboTax’s music- and dance-filled spot seems like good fun. But more than that, it reinforced the brand’s main product benefit: Giving you more time to do the things you love. It was a lighthearted delivery of one of TurboTax’s main brand benefits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcCvW2h4974&feature=youtu.be


Your message may not be for everyone — and that’s OKAY

We’re here for quality over quantity. Casting a wide net might lead you to miss out on those who relate to your message the most. Instead of trying to appeal to as many people as possible, set your key audience(s) as your compass, and design your strategy around them.

This is one of the main reasons we will rarely recommend a Super Bowl ad to you. With such a broad viewer base, the Super Bowl isn’t necessarily the right channel for B2B brands with narrower, more specialized audiences. But the point still stands that the most effective ads of this year’s roundup were the ones that made the most direct plays to their audience.  

The brand that did it right: Workday

While the satirical commentary on corporate culture may not have resonated with everyone, it inspired a visceral, shared cringe in everyone who works in an office. Workday understood its audience and dialed in on a recognizable experience.

https://youtu.be/2ID-1mzRAew


Universal human truths will always win in the battle for relevancy

Marketers love to capitalize on a cultural moment, especially in today’s fast-paced content pipeline. But there’s one thing that might be stronger than cultural relevance — emotional appeal. Nostalgia, humor, love and even sadness can be powerful drivers of conversation and conversion.

Successfully combining cultural and emotional relevance is an advertising touchdown. The combo firmly plants your brand in people’s minds not only as a functional choice, but also as one that meets their emotional needs.

The brand that did it right: The Farmer’s Dog

Dog owners everywhere reached for their own pets (and the tissues) after watching The Farmer’s Dog’s lovable pup. The spot capitalized on the ever-growing internet dog craze (cultural) while tapping directly into the pure relationship between us and person’s best friend (emotional).


Play out the whole storyline

The anticipation around Super Bowl ads is palpable — but what do brands do once the big game is over? It’s important to realign ourselves around the fact that a Super Bowl ad isn’t a whole campaign in and of itself — it’s one tactic. And tactics that aren’t supported by a cohesive campaign are prone to falling short of the goal line.

Marketing tactics exist to guide audiences through the user journey, so every touchpoint matters, whether it’s a Super Bowl spot or a display ad. The brands we’ll be talking about next week and next month will be the ones that used their Super Bowl time as a springboard for a surround-sound campaign that drives business results.

The brand that did it right: Rakuten

Rakuten carried the “Clueless” references through to a specially curated Clueless fashion experience on its website, inviting its audience to literally buy into the nostalgia. The brand’s curated marketplace actively but subtly drives new users down its conversion funnel.

https://youtu.be/o_yGq_4xCKQ

B2B and B2C: More alike than YOU think

Will we ever see a Super Bowl ad lineup dominated by B2B brands? Probably not. But as B2B customers behave more and more like B2C audiences, there’s still a lot we can learn if we look at things from the other team’s bench. So as you brainstorm your next brand campaign, remember that putting relationships, authenticity and storytelling front and center will get you to the end zone faster.