Startup Lessons from the Super Bowl

Posted by on January 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm

You don’t have to be a huge football fan to get excited about the Super Bowl. Although I have zero allegiance to either team in this year’s battle, the commercial leaks and pre-promotions have guaranteed I’ll be watching the game. Previously, you had to wait until game day to see which big brands were ready to blow you away with their creative zeal. But now, prime time has extended to the week or two before the big day. Whether it’s because brands aren’t satisfied paying millions of dollars for just 30 seconds of air time, consumers are increasingly interested in the process behind the commercials instead of just the end result, or that brands are doing everything they can to bolster engagement via social media before, during and after the commercials air, the fact remains that the commercials keep us coming back for more year after year.

AdWeek recently posted a couple of articles with some of the top commercials to look out for. A couple stuck out to me:

1. New Castle

Anna Kendrick is hilarious in this commercial. Her shtick about not being “beer-ad hot” is fantastic. I’ve got to say – I’m glad she’s not scantily clad climbing all over a hot rod to make the product seem sexy. New Castle pokes the bear by beeping out the many words tied to the Super Bowl. Startups can learn a few lessons from this ad.

1) Don’t be afraid to toe the line. With the many overbearing rules around the verbiage allowed in commercials in the run up to the game, your lawyer fees would be through the roof just to ensure you won’t get in trouble. New Castle pokes fun at the ridiculous red tape (and high cost) of getting your name in the game.

2) You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get noticed. While Bud Light went all out to give a man the night of his life (via DJ, limo, two high-end actors, huge party and a concert), New Castle had an actress sitting at a dressing table.

3) Clever beats flashy, every time. Again, extravagance is fun and entertaining, but as a startup, that just isn’t in the cards. To make up for it, use the tools you’ve got – your creativity and intelligence.

2. GoldieBlox

GoldieBlox was founded a couple of years ago by a female engineer who wanted to give girls more interesting toy options by combining stories with building. I love what this company stands for, my three nieces LOVE their toys, and it’s great that they’re a startup making big things happen.

The company won Intuit’s contest for a free 30-second commercial spot during the game. There are teasers out now, but we’ll have to wait for the big game to see the actual commercial. Their previous commercials have been really inspiring, showing young girls bored with a girly TV show about princesses so instead they build an incredible contraption with GoldieBlox.

Unfortunately, they ran into trouble for using the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls.” If only they’d gotten legal rights to feature the song, because it was perfect for the commercial.

We’ll see ads from nearly all of the big auto companies, fashion, consumer electronics and of course food and beverage companies. Check out the game, then come back and let me know which commercials you liked best in our comments section or via Twitter @SimpleRelevance.