A winning Super Bowl game plan

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers aren't the only ones fighting for the big prize at this year's Super Bowl. Brand marketers also realize the importance of bringing their A-game.

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers aren't the only ones fighting for the big prize at this year's Super Bowl. Brand marketers also realize the importance of bringing their A-game.

HarBowl. Ray Lewis. Best-in-class television creative. Beyoncé. More than 5,000 credentialed members of the media from 20-plus countries. Radio Row streaming live chatter from dusk until dawn.

Before you can even think of reaching for a Po' boy, this is the clutter you need to cut through when activating around this year's Super Bowl in New Orleans. The savviest marketers are keen to this landscape and, as such, are poised to navigate the terrain and harness the power of this crown-jewel sports and entertainment event that's truly unlike any other.

To separate from the noise and help your brand emerge victorious, you need a playbook with the following four key elements:

1. Proper planning. Understanding the storylines of the Super Bowl can strengthen the potential to integrate your brand's message into the discussion. Story angles are plentiful and can reach a variety of target audiences. As New Orleans natives, The Mannings were going to be a dominant story whether or not Peyton or Eli were under center this coming Sunday. Along the same family lines, the Harbaugh parents, whose sons Jim and John are coaching against each other in the game, were a potential asset astute marketers identified and evaluated weeks ago.

2. The right channels. With 5,000-plus credentialed journalists at the Super Bowl, you have to identify the key outlets that will help you resonate with your target audience. If sports fans are your target, according to the annual Catalyst Fan Engagement Study, 18- to 64-year-old enthusiasts look to media as their primary source (67%), but athletes (62%), online fans or “super fans” (45%), and bloggers (37%) need to be factored into the media mix.

3. Listen to the cadence of the Super Bowl. Like most marquee sports and entertainment events, the Super Bowl has a cadence of happenings in the lead-up: Media Day, the NFL Commissioner's Press Conference, the Super Bowl Halftime Show presser, the Madden Bowl, the week's array of celebrity-packed parties, and so on. Attempts to attract attention during these events could fall on deaf ears, but opportunities definitely exist.

4. Compelling content. A large and diverse audience has interest in what's happening around Super Bowl Week – ranging from on-the-field buzz to the countless pop-culture events occurring off the field. Within the restrictions of the Host Committee and the League, brands have a great opportunity to engage consumers by using social channels to tell creative stories quickly and visually. Capturing and distributing event content to give fans unique access is an approach that remains underleveraged by brands.

As marketers, we always have to think ahead. While every Super Bowl presents amazing opportunities, the game in 2014 might be the biggest one yet as it will be hosted by New York/New Jersey. The Big Apple. The first-ever cold-weather Super Bowl. Savvy marketers are already salivating at the possibilities.

At the end of Super Bowl week, one team's championship dream will have come true and fans will have any number of memories. Make sure your brand is one of them.

Bret Werner is managing director for Catalyst Public Relations, an IMG Consulting Company. Catalyst, the 2012 PRWeek Small Agency of the Year, will be representing six blue-chip brands at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. This will be Bret's 13th Super Bowl.

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