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15 Better Ways to Spend Super Bowl Commercial Money: Brilliant Publicity Stunts

Updated on March 19, 2014
The Super Bowl is America's most watched annual event. And it brings in millions of dollars for the company's that air it.
The Super Bowl is America's most watched annual event. And it brings in millions of dollars for the company's that air it. | Source

Super Bowl Commercials - They're All-American!

Every year in early February, one third of the United States spends three hours, with friends and family, watching 22 men chase a brown leather ball up and down a grassy field. And we LOVE it!

Yes, the Super Bowl is an all-American pastime.

But what makes it even more interesting is that the Super Bowl is the one time during the year that people actually WANT to watch commercials. There are "commercials", and then there are "SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS!" We hate the former, but love the later.

It's slightly embarrassing to say, but Super Bowl Commercials may be just as "all-American" as football itself. For some reason, one day a year we ignore the TiVo fast-forward feature and hang on every last word that Coca-Cola, GoDaddy, and Stephen Colbert have to say (of course, we always love hearing the wisdom of Stephen Colbert).

Super Bowl Game vs. Commercials

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Why Do Companies Buy Super Bowl Commercials?

Perhaps as many of you, I have fond memories of watching Super Bowl commercials throughout my entire life. At every time-out we yell "Quiet! The commercials are on!" and absorb every last bit of the messages presented to us by the world's largest corporations - through humorous skits, scantily glad women, and talking geckos.

Most people are aware of the $4 million cost of this year's 30 second Super Bowl commercials. And most people wonder why in the world companies would pay so much!

Well, there's good reason. With the 110+ million that watched this year's Super Bowl, that $4 million came out to about 3.5 cents per view - or $35.00 per thousand. Firstly, that's about the same as (or even a little cheaper than) a regular television show. But what's more important is what I mentioned above: People actually watch Super Bowl Ads.

Yes, statistically speaking, Super Bowl commercials are worth their weight in gold. Company's pay $4 million because it gets them in front of $4 million worth of television viewers who are fascinated with what they have to say.

The Cost of These Ideas

Because companies generally spend another several hundred thousand on creating these commercials, I figured that it would be appropriate for these ideas to cost upward of $100,000 to manage.

Therefore, with each one of these ideas, the primary activity costs $4 million, but the project could cost another $100,000 or so to manage and implement. Of course, if you're willing to spend $4 million on a Super Bowl advertisement, an extra 100 grand probably isn't that big of a deal.

15 Better Ways to Spend Your Advertising Budget

OK, so maybe I'm being a bit ambitious. What makes me think that I can come up with a better way to spend $4 million than the companies that have put our president's into office for the last 50 years?

Can a 26 year old guy really come up with FIFTEEN promotional activities that are superior to a Super Bowl advertisement?

Well, I'll let you be the judge of that. And no, I'm confident that none of these ideas are better than the Old Spice Man. However, for a business that either lacks creativity, wants to get their customers involved, or wishes to spend that $4 million in a way that contributes to society, then perhaps one or more of these ideas is right for you.

Now, if you're like me - there really is no reason to be reading this article. The closest you've ever come to having $4 million was that one time that you maxed out your credit cards. But then again. who knows, you could still become a CEO one day...

And now, on to the ideas!

A Focus on Publicity

With all of these ideas, an emphasis is placed on media-grabbing publicity rather than advertising. If people WANT to know what you are doing, then you don't need to pay us much to grab their attention. Facebook and NBC will be happy to get their attention for you.

1. Road Trip and Throw Money Balls at People

Although my worst title, this may be one of my best ideas.

This project requires a team of 2-4 people who will drive a van with the company's branding on it to all 50 states (well, Alaska and Hawaii may need their own transportation).

The van is filled with rubber balls containing a link to the company's website and an access code. A total of 200,000 rubber balls are needed.

In each state the team throws 4000 of these rubber balls at random people (gently). When a person follows the link or QR code on the ball and enters the access code, they receive $20 sent to their PayPal account.

Thus, for $4 million, this team gives $20 and a rubber ball to 200,000 different Americans - all across the country.

A stunt like this would surely attract media attention, hungry college students, and energetic dogs from all across the country.

The cost of a Super Bowl commercial could certainly cover the expensive of a lot of community service hours.
The cost of a Super Bowl commercial could certainly cover the expensive of a lot of community service hours. | Source

2. Sponsor College "Volunteer" Teams

We live in a time where people are passionate about making a difference - particularly college students. And often, once a young person gets a taste of community service, they become hooked.

For the company interested in making a positive difference in communities across the country, this is a brilliant project.

Create a competition to select 2000 teams of 4 college students each. Each team must submit a video sharing how they can benefit a nonprofit with one week of full-time work. The 2000 teams with the highest number of votes will each receive $2000 (or $500 per team member) as pay for their week of community service.

Whether these 2000 teams come from 2000 different colleges, forty from each state, or simply chosen at random from across the country, the company's website is sure to receive a significant number of visitors from those coming to vote for their favorite teams.

But not only will this publicity campaign send many visitors to the company's website, it will also provide 320,000 hours of community service to 2000 nonprofits and give 8000 college students work for a week! That sounds like a win-win-win publicity stunt to me.

Hire Me to Run Your Promotional Campaign!

After you've read my brilliant publicity stunts below and you've decided that it's time to do something out of the ordinary to promote your business, contact me. I would be more than happy to work with you!

You can reach me through the fan mail section of my HubPages profile or on Twitter @rlerich. I am sure that we can find a brilliant way to creatively promote your business on any budget.

3. Give Funds to Schools or Nonprofits

For a less complex take on idea #2, consider following in the footsteps of the Kohl's Cares project a few years back. Offer $100,000 to the 40 schools or nonprofits that receive the most votes. People will eagerly flock to a page to support their favorite nonprofit with a vote - and your company ends up with a fantastic reputation!

Who wouldn't want to buy from a company that gave $100,000 to their kid's school?

Fiverr - The world's largest marketplace for services, starting at $5.
Fiverr - The world's largest marketplace for services, starting at $5.

4. Purchase 800,000 Fiverr Gigs

If you aren't familiar with, it's a website where people offer tasks that they are willing to do for $5. You can buy or sell virtually anything imaginable on this website - from tweets, logos, and articles, to funny YouTube testimonials, jingles, and custom key chains.

For $4 million it would be possible to purchase 800,000 Fiverr gigs! Yes, it would take some time to order all of those gigs, but imagine the publicity that would come from 800,000 different workers doing random activities for your business.

Although you would want to get more detailed then this, a potential breakdown of activities could include:

  1. 100,000 articles written about your brand.
  2. 100,000 YouTube videos mentioning your brand.
  3. 100,000 advertisements or articles placed on other people's websites.
  4. 100,000 people tweeting out or sharing your message on Facebook.
  5. 100,000 drawings, sketches, and cartoons created about your business.
  6. 50,000 different fliers and brochures created about your business.
  7. 50,000 different people handing out your fliers and brochures at locations around the world.
  8. 100,000 jingles and songs about your brand.
  9. 100,000 radio and internet television show mentions.

As you can see, $4 million can get you a lot on Fiverr!

If you want to learn more about buying and selling on Fiverr, you should visit my fan site -

Kiva loans make a difference and then return the funds right back to you!
Kiva loans make a difference and then return the funds right back to you!

5. Lend $1 on Kiva for Every New Follower, Like, Tweet, or Share

If you aren't familiar with Kiva, you certainly need to go visit it and sign up now! Kiva is a website where anyone can provide interest-free micro loans to people who are unable to gain access to regular credit.

In other words, you can lend $25 to help a lady in Peru buy a cow, $50 to help a farmer in India increase his crop, or $40 to a woman in the Philippines who wants to start a new store.

As a business, why not offer to lend $1 (or even $5) on Kiva for every new Twitter follower, Facebook like, Tweet, or Facebook share? Most people would be willing to retweet your message if it means that $1 is going to help someone out.

The beautiful thing about this project is that your $4 million can do twice the amount of good. After a couple of years the funds will be repaid and you can either run the same project again or use the $4 million for something else!

Honestly, I don't know why more businesses aren't doing this already.

6. Giveaway Your Product to an Entire Town

If the product or service that you offer costs $50, you could give it away, for free, to every single person in a city of 80,000.

It would be incredibly easy to get publicity for providing something useful or fun to an entire city. Imagine if Shell offered a $50 gas card to everyone in your town, or if Post gave everyone 10 boxes of cereal. Not only would it be awesome, but I bet that it would increase your commitment to that brand.

7. Award $1 Million to Store Visitors

Running your own "Amazing Race" type of activity could prove to be an incredible form of publicity.

A company with storefronts across the nation could offer $1 million to the first four teams of four to visit every one of the company's stores and take a photo with an employee.

This entertaining activity could inspire people from all parts of the country to jump in their cars and begin the race. There would undoubtedly be a lot of publicity that would come from such an adventure.

If more businesses encouraged giving a hand to those in need, our world would become a better place - overnight.
If more businesses encouraged giving a hand to those in need, our world would become a better place - overnight.

8. Award Do-Gooders

Mother Teresa says that "poverty will end when the rich and poor become friends". Why not spend some time helping to make this happen?

Offer $20 to the first 200,000 people who share a YouTube video of themselves taking a homeless person to lunch.

Although this project is more about motivating people to do something in their local community, I imagine that it would still bring in a lot of publicity (some of it would likely be negative - so care would need to be taken).

9. Giveaway Your Product to People Who Need It

If you believe that your $50 product can really provide people with something beneficial, offer it free to the first 80,000 people who post a YouTube video of how your product would make their lives easier.

This is a fantastic way to create viral advertisements for your product! And again, you have the potential of actually helping people who need it.

10. Cover Road-Trip Gas!

Every spring break, millions of college students travel - usually south - to enjoy a week of fun and festivities. One of the biggest drags for all of these spring breakers is the cost of gas. Why not help them out?

Offer to cover $250 worth of gas for 16,000 spring break road-trips! In exchange, each car must have your company's logo placed on it and, by the end of the trip, 5 pictures visibly showing the company's logo must be uploaded to Facebook.

If people start associating your brand with having a great time, you will not be easily forgotten.

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11. Profile Picture Photo Bomb

A rather silly and trivial activity, this one could certainly get the conversation going about your brand.

Offer $10 to the first 400,000 who make their profile picture a photo of them with your business logo or product somewhere in the picture. In exchange for sharing your brand with their friends, you provide them with cash (or a discounted/free product).

Of course, it will be important to place limits (such as a minimum of 300 friends) to ensure that the profiles are real, and not everyone will offer their profile picture for $10, but this project could have some potential.

12. Sponsor Volunteer Gurus

While getting a few college students to volunteer for a week is great, why not offer something more concrete to serious volunteers?

Create a competition to select 200 people who you will provide with $20,000 to cover their expenses while volunteering for a year. Offering a prize like this is sure to attract the attention of college students looking to take a year out, retirees, and the unemployed - giving these people a great way to support themselves while doing good!

Of course, you may want to give them some company memorabilia to wear and request a few photos uploaded every week.

I would LOVE a company that's giving away 800 vacations!
I would LOVE a company that's giving away 800 vacations! | Source

13. Vacation Giveaway

We all know people who work too hard and really could use a nice vacation.

For $4 million it would be possible to give 800 people a $5,000 vacation for them and their families! If you team up with a few resorts, airlines, and other services, that $5,000 may go even further.

Allow people to recommend others for a vacation. The well-deserving teacher, the single mother, the father of 5, the work-focused executive - they all could benefit from a vacation with those that matter most.

This is another project that would easily attract the media's attention - especially if the giveaways were sprawled out over a year or two.

14. A Capitol Idea

If you're skipping out on the Super Bowl advertisement, but still want to show your American spirit, then providing America's largest catering adventure can surely give you that image.

Throw an $80,000 lunch party in front of the capitol building of each one of the 50 states - on the same day. Send out a notice ahead of time, and then provide a free lunch to the first 4000 people that show up at each location on the chosen day.

Another rather random activity, I am still confident that this task would get the attention of the media, tourists, some citizens, and the government. Thus, it is not a good promotional idea for everyone - but it could work for the right business.

What's Your Overall Rating of These Ideas

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of my Super Bowl Commercial Alternatives

15. The Daily $10,000 Giveaway

The goal of Super Bowl commercials is to ultimately attract more visitors to the company store or website. While a 30 second advertisement may be one way to do this, another great idea is to give something away.

And that's exactly what I suggest for the final one of my 15 ideas.

Offer to give $10,000 to one random person who visits your store or website - and do this every day for a year.

Think about it, if the ultimate goal is to get people to visit your business, then why not simply provide an incentive for visiting your business? You'll keep potential customers returning time and time again in hope of winning that exciting $10,000 prize.

Your Takeaway

Perhaps not all of my ideas are on par with the $4 million commercial, but I think many of them are close.

More importantly, however, I wanted to give you a perspective on how much a Super Bowl commercial really costs. It's not a cheap endeavor.

If you ever do end up in a position where you have the opportunity to purchase a Super Bowl commercial, you may want to take a minute to think of what else you could do with that money. You may still end up buying the commercial - but you might also conclude that there is something better (like hiring me to run a massive publicity stunt for you!).

So, what do you think of the ideas presented in this incredibly long article? Would you purchase a Super Bowl commercial, or would you spend the money another way?


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