Why do so many brands wait until the Super Bowl to produce really fun or thought-provoking work? True, only some brands actually nail it, but at least they are all trying. The stakes are raised because everyone is trying to get the highest rated, most-talked about spot with such a huge audience, right? 

The Holy Grail being the free press and viral shares that justify the almost $5 million fee. Not too mention that anyone that has ever produced a Super Bowl spots tells all their friends and family. Then the pressure is really on. You don’t want to be the client or agency team that your most loyal fans are rooting for only to get the conciliatory pat on the back. When you’re standing in that room, the moment is palpable. The air feels thick, might be a better way to describe the feeling.

The reality is the stakes are always raised. Every time we (clients and agencies) spend a budget that is the fraction the size of the Super Bowl ad rates, you have the potential to reach just as big an audience. All you have to do is be brilliant. Just ask Dove, Pepsi or Red Bull. If you do something incredibly smart, hilarious or ground breaking and support it properly, a lot of people will see it. People want to be informed and entertained and if you do either or both they don’t really care that it was sponsored. This past weekend I had a few smart-asses say after a commercial, “OK who created that ad?”  And all the kids in the room would shout out “Hyundai!” with absolute joy. The best part is you don’t even need to pay for air time during the big game. Ritz did a funny spot with a smart strategy — they make snacking easy. It never aired during the game, but has almost 30 million views. I don’t recall ever seeing anything memorable from Ritz before. Never. But there is someone over there that understands the basic notion that you have to make people give a shit about the stuff you are hawking.  For the sake of the rest of us, hopefully, they’ll continue that mindset the rest of the year.