The big pizza chains don't often advertise during the biggest football event of the year, but Pizza Hut will run ads during the pre-game portion of next week's Super Bowl. That's an exciting prospect, considering the brand's recent alignment with The Martin Agency ad company.
Whatever the chain's new creative approach, Dr. Rana Yelkur and Dr. Chuck Tomkovick have a couple of recommendations. The duo are University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire marketing professors who have studied Super Bowl advertising for a decade. Their latest study on the most effective Super Bowl ads offers a simple prescription: Less information is more when it comes to audience reception.
"The important thing is to get the brand out there," said Yelkur. "With food and beverage, our research shows the likeability is higher (in that Super Bowl commercial category) than in others—so the audience is already hyped to react to this type of commercial. But they're not ready to listen to a 30-second spiel about â€˜what my product can do.'"
Instead, Yelkur said, companies need to keep their ads creative, entertaining and light in subject matter and duration. Thirty to 60 seconds is the golden range—30 is too short to tell the story, and 90 seconds come across as too long when you're waiting for the next field move. Humor, animals and children also work well with the food and beverage category.
"So it's a combination of all these factors—â€˜I made a funny ad, so I'm going to be successful' is not going to work. A combo of one or two of these does help."
But for pizzerias that don't advertise with commercials on what is actually one of the biggest pizza delivery days of the year, the duo said that pizzerias and grocers can still cash in on this pizza-centric event. Yelkur said no matter what promotion medium brands choose, the message needs to be consistent -- and deployed often so that it actually sinks in.
"It's all about activation," said Yelkur. "In theory, even if you buy a 30-second commercial for 2.6 million -- if you're paying that, you can't just throw the commercial out there, it has to be activated at the point of purchase. It has to be activated anywhere people are looking at your brand."
"The movement of the products for Super Bowl — the beer, the food; and I suppose the frozen pizza — they all go on sale right now."
So targeting grocery store shoppers with point-of-purchase messages on the shelf, aisle or even hanging from the ceiling are good ways brands can stay front-of-mind for the event.
Tomkovick has some ideas for pizzerias that don't have frozen or take â€˜n' bake grocery options. He said people are receptive to anything that says "Super Bowl," even as relates to pre-events and game day preparations.
"Here's a crazy promotion idea – â€˜Order something now before Super Bowl, and you'll get a bonus on Super Bowl day.' If sales promotion is supposed to be about volume, not price reduction ... you (could) move people to a double purchase."