How brands can score with millennials on Super Bowl Sunday

David Berkowitz is CMO of digital agency MRY

Want to reach millennials during the Super Bowl? A national TV spot is one way, but 30 seconds of slapstick broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers isn’t the only way to do it.

Millennials are the first generation of digital “natives,” having grown up on the Internet and mobile devices. Knowing how, when and on what platform to engage them has become a science in itself. Throw one of the most important advertising events of the year into the mix, and the opportunities to reach this generation are endless.

Here are five trends to consider when connecting with millennials during the game:

Mobile is the first screen ...
Regardless of how good the game and the broadcast ads are, people will be engaged with their phones throughout the day. Expect millennials to be chatting on Snapchat and WhatsApp, reviewing friends’ game-day selfies on Instagram and sharing their favorite ads and game highlights on Facebook and Twitter — all via mobile devices. Want real visibility during the game? Go long on mobile.

… Yet millennials are device agnostic.
NBCUniversal is allowing viewers to watch the Super Bowl through any screen and connection, via its TV Everywhere platform. It’s smart to offer such flexibility, especially for younger consumers who don’t have rigid notions of what kinds of content work best on each screen. This kind of experience will be especially appreciated by cord cutters, who skew young and prefer watching everything on demand.

Millennial celebrities catch millennial attention …
Who are the big stars in this year’s ad bowl? Consider Mindy Kaling and Craig Robinson, both starring in different brands’ ads. Boomers may not recognize these young stars, but they have massive millennial followings. The big surprise this year is that there isn’t a wave of spots featuring celebrities from digital outlets such as YouTube and Vine. Brands that give these social stars wider exposure will only gain cachet with younger millennials and Generation Z.

… So, too, do Internet celebrities.
Will all those YouTube stars have to watch the game like everyone else? Not quite. YouTube’s first-ever halftime show will have more than 20 of the site’s most popular icons who have a combined 60 million subscribers. These stars can easily hold their own against Katy Perry.

Brands are entitled people, too.
Brands have a chance to turn one of the most frequent complaints about millennials — their entitlement — into an advantage. In other words: Don’t be shy, be bold and get your message out there on as many owned and earned channels as possible. Newcastle and Friskies are both doing that, buying local spots and heavily distributing the content through owned and earned channels.

Homepage image courtesy American Spirit /

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