Buying Super Bowl ads in small markets can be a winning strategy

It costs $4.5 million to get a 30 second commercial aired during the Super Bowl. That amount immediately excludes many companies from considering taking the plunge into Super Bowl advertising but some companies have been thinking outside the box in order to get their products noticed during (and after) the big game.

Old Milwaukee used an interesting strategy to build quite a buzz about their Super Bowl ads even though they didn’t air nationwide. In 2012, they aired a commercial starring Will Ferrell in just one market. That market was North Platte, Nebraska which is one of the smallest TV markets in the country. Here’s the ad:

In 2013, they followed up their success by airing this commercial in a handful of small markets:

The ads weren’t seen on a global scale during the Super Bowl but received a lot of online publicity from such outlets as Deadspin, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Mashable and Yahoo.

This year The Verge is taking a similar approach. The company has purchased a 30-second spot in Helena, Montana for just $700. Here’s the ad:

Even though this ad hasn’t aired in Helena yet, it’s a home run. By simply buying the time slot and letting it be known (whether they leaked it themselves or not), Vox media (the owners of The Verge) has gained considerable online traction for it’s site. The fact that they are running an ad in Helena has now been publicized by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Adweek and Slate.

Let this be a lesson to companies that are buying into the Super Bowl advertising arms race. Sometimes it pays to be strategic instead of just throwing your money around.

Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Student Section and This Given Sunday