Planning Out Next Steps After You’ve Bought a Super Bowl Spot

And how to make it resonate with viewers

A group of people meet around a conference table and everyone is focused on their own thing
Those Super Bowl ads won't plan themselves! Getty Images
Headshot of Michelle Bradley

A Super Bowl ad can give a brand unparalleled reach with millions of engaged viewers. However, with a price tag of over $5 million for 30 seconds, a Super Bowl spot is a high risk, high reward investment.

Whether you’re a veteran Super Bowl advertiser or completely new to the Big Game, here are four tips for getting your campaign conceived, executed and celebrated.

Setting your budget

Shooting a Super Bowl commercial is a massive undertaking, so it’s important to budget carefully. Within creative production, there are endless moving pieces to monitor, from the initial script to choosing talent, music, VFX specialists and technical personnel to finding the right director. Plus, with the days of linear TV viewership waning, the cost of production now has to account for digital, social and mobile assets.

On top of this, brands aren’t just paying for a 30-second spot (the total cost includes the specific time slot, the number of units and investing in pre-show buzz). In sum, budget planning should account for the immense variety of moving pieces, and the whole team should be informed of budget goals to stay on track and keep within parameters.

It costs a ton of money to make an over-the-top commercial, but brands can save money by negotiating in smart and tactful ways and taking charge of budget planning from the beginning.

Build a top-notch team

The intensity of Super Bowl planning requires extraordinary discipline when it comes to orchestrating the process and having a top-notch producer and cost consultant in place can make all the difference. With so many moving parts, bringing on seasoned team members who will keep you honest on logistics and budget is essential.

There are many ways to save money, including shooting overseas, and the right team will know the research needed, like a stateside versus overseas bid comparison, to help you make those decisions. Plus, networks have a plethora of standards and practices that brands must adhere to and having someone with that knowledge will keep everything moving in the right direction. As a general rule, brands should bring both producers and cost consultants on board from the beginning to fully support budget management and all of the nitty-gritty aspects of logistical planning. With over 100 million people tuning in to watch the game, the pressure to deliver is intense. Careful planning and collaboration with a seasoned team is the only way to prepare for perfect delivery.

Choose the right director

Landing the right director for the job is crucial. Directors ultimately shape the story and style of your spot and have enormous influence on how the conceiving and execution play out. Therefore, rather than just trusting agency recommendations, brands should require their agencies to conduct a triple bidding process. This ensures that the brand has options to choose from, leverage to negotiate and that the team is comfortable with how the director works, what they represent and how they’ll bring the vision to life. Aim to include at least one female director is in the triple bid to ensure that women are getting the same opportunities as men and not just awarded work that is stereotypically feminine. When a brand is lucky enough to bring on a director that really gets the idea and meshes with the team, the results can be wondrous.

Leverage cost negotiation

Buying, creating and producing a Super Bowl spot is costly, but starting negotiations early will ensure that you’re getting the most efficient cost possible for the best creative idea. Often agencies want clients to buy into their director recommendations right away, but brands shouldn’t award a project just based on seeing one treatment. Brands should always allow adequate time in their production calendar for a cost review of items like first round bids and production company responses to see how collaborative the agency and production vendors will (or won’t) be. It costs a ton of money to make an over-the-top commercial, but brands can save money by negotiating in smart and tactful ways and taking charge of budget planning from the beginning.

While tackling a Super Bowl spot might seem like an overwhelming undertaking, it is possible to get ahead of the craziness. By budgeting, building a trusted team with a great director partner and leveraging cost negotiation, you can design a campaign that is celebrated and remembered long after game day.


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Michelle Bradley is founder and managing director of MBc Services, Inc.
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