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Super Bowl Standouts

How to impress fans who expect the unexpected

The Super Bowl remains entertainment’s highest perch. Whether watching from home or live in Houston, fans will come with high expectations for every contributor to the experience—the players and coaches, the half-time entertainment, and any brand who touches the game, whether through sponsorship, advertising or real-time social media.

The bar is high. And the field is crowded.

To make a meaningful connection during Super Bowl week, brands and organizations must think and act differently. They must deliver compelling content and unexpected engagement. And they must keep a laser focus on their desired audience.

We already know some of the players who will make an impact in Houston. Others can only step into the spotlight when the spotlight appears on game day. Here are four best-in-class examples—and strategies—we recommend any brand marketer pay attention to.

Pepsi’s Gaga Behind-The-Scenes

Matt Hill, SVP, Global Sports & Entertainment Consulting
New York

Beyond the game, Super Bowl is a convergence of sports, entertainment, music and technology. Lady Gaga’s performance in the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show is must-see TV and will likely lead to a spike in average viewership during her 15-minute set. And Pepsi is giving consumers behind-the-scenes access to Gaga as she prepares to take the world’s biggest stage, leveraging its rights as a league sponsor along with media to promote its Zero Sugar product.

NFL 'Plays for Life' Women’s Summit

Jessie Giordano, VP, Global Sports & Entertainment Consulting
San Francisco

The NFL is expanding the conversation with this year’s ‘Plays for Life’ Women’s Summit, a two-day event dedicated to teen girls during Super Bowl week. The NFL ‘Plays for Life’ Women’s Summit is an interactive experience focused on personal development and achievement, which traditionally has not been a standard inclusion in the festivities of Super Bowl week. It’s a powerful example of how the NFL is leveraging the visibility of Super Bowl to celebrate fans of all ages in an authentic and impactful way that will live far beyond Super Bowl Sunday. 

“We recognize the opportunity and value of using our biggest platform—the Super Bowl—to support the development of the young women in the Houston community and their future success both personally and professionally,” said NFL Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Hudson. 

GMR is proud to be supporting the NFL on this initiative, as it’s truly a one-of-a-kind event. Learn more at and be sure to watch the exclusive live stream on on Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4 starting at 9 a.m. CT.

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Intel’s Technology Integration

Matt Hill, SVP, Global Sports & Entertainment Consulting
New York

Another brand that will be highly visible during Super Bowl LI is Intel, which recently released its :30 spot featuring Tom Brady. In addition to buying advertising during the Big Game, Intel’s 360 technology will be integrated into the broadcast, providing wrap-around 3D replays and allowing fans to experience the game from the player’s point of view. When a brand is able to bring its product or technology to life during the Super Bowl and utilize advertising to enhance its storytelling, the outcome is often a marketing touchdown.

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Social Media Standout: You?

Lesley Pinckney, SVP, Digital & Social

It’s been four years since Oreo’s Super Bowl XLVII blackout tweet, and it’s still widely cited as the best use of real-time content by a marketer. What most people forget is that Oreo wasn’t an official sponsor, and the Tweet didn’t use any NFL intellectual property. It was a clever, topical piece of content that people felt was worthy of sharing.

At its core, social media is a conversation (albeit with millions of friends). Anytime you have an event with the fan passion of Super Bowl, the power and reach of that conversation becomes exponentially greater. Brands who are sponsors—and more importantly, brands who are not—all have an opportunity to join the conversation and leverage the millions of eyeballs that will be online Super Bowl Sunday.

By now, smart brands have already mapped their game day strategies. The good ones will mix pre-built content with a process to take advantage of real-time moments.

Unfortunately, the biggest change from four years ago is the volume of brands trying to do the same thing—and paying big dollars to social platforms to do so. We recommend that anyone attempting to create their own “Oreo” moment save some of their budget to help people see it in the inevitably crowded conversation.

As with the Super Bowl itself, the real magic of social media is that it’s a live game, so who stands out here is up for grabs.


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