Ambush Report: Superbowl 48

As the sports world descends on New York City/New Jersey this week, sports marketers come prepared to combat against what is considered the most cluttered Super Bowl in NFL history. The opportunity for NFL sponsors to engage with consumers has never been greater, as digital and social extensions have now become mainstream communication and marketing channels to reach core audiences. Despite that, NFL sponsors should be wary this week, as non-NFL sponsors will now shift their focus to New York City/New Jersey with the intent of creating disruption. In this inaugural SponsorshipSpace Ambush Report, I’ll dive into a couple key Super Bowl sponsors and categories at risk of losing out on delivering their core marketing message to NFL fans and general consumers alike.


NFL Sponsor: GMC

The Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered by GMC is the ultimate destination for NFL fans to come and engage with various NFL sponsor expos, including SAP, Microsoft, and McDonalds. But being on the ground will not be enough for GMC, as numerous automotive brands are set to showcase Super Bowl ad spots that’ll make consumers laugh, cringe, and ultimately take the spotlight away from GMC, diluting the category and diminishing the value of the sponsorship during the most important time of the NFL calendar.

Audi is expected to have one 60-second spot, featuring Sarah McLachlan in a SPCA-style “Special Message”, with the core messaging around the new Audi A3. Hyundai has two spots this year, one that features “The Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki.

Jaguar is ramping up it’s new “Good to be Bad” branding strategy through the one 60-second sport featuring British actors Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong portraying British villains. Kia brings in actor Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus from “The Matrix” to narrate “The Truth”, introducing its new flagship K900 sedan in the United States. Toyota brings in actor Terry Crews and the Muppets to showcase the new Toyota Highlander.

The automotive category has grown into an increasingly cluttered space where marketers fight for every single laugh. It’ll be fun to watch this category unfold and see how these ads play out in the eyes of the mass general public.

Soft Drink

NFL Sponsor: Pepsi

It’s safe to say the Pepsi brand is everywhere and is expected to yield positive returns from this year’s Super Bowl. But with only one ad running in this years big game, Pepsi leaves the door wide open for competitors to come in and steal their thunder on a telecast that’s expected to garner it’s usual 100+ million U.S. viewers (Source: Pepsi Placing Super Bowl Focus On Halftime Show, Will Only Run One In-Game Ad)

Coca-Cola is leveraging their existing relationship with historic NFL franchise, the Green Bay Packers, in one of their Super Bowl ads this year. Highlighting the existing relationship with a franchise that has high brand equity and national recognition will resonate in the minds of all sports fans. (Source: Ad Age – Coca-Cola Spotlights Green Bay in Super Bowl Ad)

If you haven’t heard already, SodaStream’s ad was banned for mentioning competitors Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Fox has been accused of protecting two of its biggest advertisers, but the banned ad has caught some steam online, as the news of the ban sent the video viral over the past 10 days. (Source: Why Scarlett Johansson's Ad Was Banned From the Super Bowl) An edgy spot with Scarlett Johansson, what’s not to like? Depending on whom you ask, this may have been a calculated risk on SodaStream’s part. If the spot gets approved, it positions itself as a environmentally-conscious competitor to Pepsi and Coca-Cola. If it gets banned (like it did), the network is accused of protecting two large advertisers. It ultimately serves it purpose, taking valuable media attention away from Pepsi and Coca-Cola during the biggest sports week of the year. It’s an underdog story, what’s not to like.

Athletic Apparel

NFL Sponsor: Nike

It’s safe to say Nike will do just fine this week. But despite Nike being the athletic apparel partner (not including gloves and footwear) of the NFL, look out for Under Armour. The Baltimore-based athletic apparel brand arrived in New York with four days of immersive, experiential programming, focused on attracting people from Super Bowl Boulevard to Grand Central Station, showcasing their keynote speakers and endorsers including: Eddie Lacy, Brian Cushing, Lavar Arrington, and Deion Sanders.

In addition to having keynote speakers at chalk talks and endorsers at Grand Central Station, Under Armour will be activating in their SoHo store location, showcasing the UA’s newest ColdGear technology days before what’s expected to be the coldest Super Bowl of all-time.


NFL Sponsor: Bud Light

One sponsor that shouldn’t have anything to worry about during this year’s big game is Anheuser-Busch InBev. As the exclusive beer sponsor of the Super Bowl, A-B will have the preeminent ad space in this year’s game, with the beer giant slated to release a new branding campaign behind it’s flagship brand, Bud Light. (Source: A-B Reveals Super Bowl Ad Plans, With New Bud Light Slogan, Clydesdale Spots).

Watch here: “Puppy Love – Budweiser”

Other Categories to Watch


NFL Sponsor: M&M’s (MARS)

What to watch for: Butterfinger (Nestle), Skittles (Recently signed Marshawn Lynch to an endorsement deal)

Consumer Product Goods

NFL Sponsor: Proctor & Gamble

What to watch for: Axe (Unilever)