Why watch the 2022 Superbowl ads when you can read about an imaginary ad instead?
February 13th is Superbowl Sunday 2022, right on the cusp of when the world celebrates (or boycotts) Valentine’s Day.
Fans across North America will have travelled through aisles of chocolate boxes and teddy-bears on their hunt for supermarket finger food. Which got me thinking – rather than pushing beer or chips or beer or… chips, what if we tempted viewers with a different kind of snack…
Let’s explore what a blue-sky, endless-budget, Superbowl-centric content campaign could look like for a dating app.
What is Snack?
Snack is geared towards the TikTok-meets-Tinder generation – video-first, designed for those who live, speak, and breathe social media.
Rather than posting pictures of themselves on a hike or with their family dog, users pepper their profiles with videos of themselves in a TikTok-inspired fashion.
It’s pretty straightforward – you create your profile, you find matches, you (hopefully) fall in love with someone who likes the same kind of snacks that you do.
There are a few USPs – ghosters get roasted by being ghosted by the app itself. Users who don’t show up on dates or just stop messaging will be penalized with less amplification of their profile.
Snack also has its own little content machine running on the sidelines. They’ve created their own online dating series on TikTok, where one Snack user talks to a lineup of potential suitors, asks questions, and eliminates them one-by-one over the course of the week.
The catch? It’s blind dating – participants are divided by a screen and must rely on connecting solely through their compatibility over questions like “what do you think of Taylor Swift?”
Okay, so why cast Snack in an imaginary ad?
The dating app space is a rich environment for fun, engaging content. This isn’t sad Aunt Mildred’s stilted Plenty of Fish world anymore.
Beyond tone, the approach to content is creative and disruptive. Thursday is repeatedly going a little viral for simple yet effective mini-campaigns and activations that surprise and delight.
Credit: Thursday Dating
In the dating app world, you can get away with saying things you couldn’t get away with elsewhere. It’s exciting. Users are hungry for fun, unconventional, surprising content.
So, let’s give them a Snack.
The Superbowl Snack you didn’t know you needed
How would a sprinkle of Love Island, a spoonful of First Dates, and a pinch of The Bachelor taste if we baked them into a pie and served it over the course of (several) $6.5M USD ad slots during the biggest TV event of the year?
A deliciously-addictive dating mini-series that runs throughout the course of the Superbowl.
8-10 contestants are introduced to us via their Snack-style videos, with a tease that we’ll be watching a play-by-play of their love lives unfolding throughout the course of the Superbowl.
Snackers are introduced to a traditional blind date setting where they’ll have 10 minutes to chat to their date before moving onto the next potential suitor.
When the clocks run out, everyone has to pick one match they’d like to see again.
In a dramatic reveal, they’ll unveil their choice.
If two Snackers match up, they’ll win a dream date (maybe to this Superbowl, why not?).
The rest of the Snackers will be sprinkled back into the sea, where there are plenty of other fish (including you, viewer at home) who are ready to bite.
The ad snippets will showcase the juiciest, cringiest, and cutest moments. Snack already has a strong brand aesthetic for the way this type of content is presented.
Of course, we’re only getting (the very best) snippets of the action via these ads. To get deeper into it, we’ve got to head over to Snack’s TikTok channel to check out the extended edition of the blind dates.
As the segments roll out on TV, more videos will be uploaded to the social platform, creating a hybrid viewing experience. Audience engagement is key – we’re talking polls, prompts, and a hashtag party that will (of course) kick off online.
Viewers will be shipping contestants (which basically means “matchmaking,” mom), sharing predictions, and reacting to the inevitable OMG moments that roll out onscreen.
And, it goes without saying – all these people will follow Snack’s TikTok channel to get notifications for when the next unmissable video drops.
6.5M football-sized fields of brand awareness and an equal number of followers on social
Everyone who is single and watching signs up for the app
Everyone who is taken and watching tells their single friends to sign up for the app
The world gorges itself on a buffet of newfound love
When brainstorming an imaginary campaign, it makes sense to go big or go home, right?
Every 2022 Superbowl ad we’ve seen so far features at least one celebrity, so I asked if we could find a little more room in the budget to get someone unexpected and engaging to host our little mixer. The answer?
“Of course, Mady. Whatever you want.”
I like the idea of Ted Danson taking on a Reality-Steve type of role. Or perhaps rom-com queen Meg Ryan could come out of wherever she’s been hiding and help our hopefuls find love.
You’ve committed a lot to reading this already. Should we get engaged?! Let me know who your ideal imaginary celeb matchmaker host is.
In case there’s concern that the Superbowl won’t give us the exposure we’re looking for, there’s plenty of opportunity to expand this campaign across wider channels:
A ‘view now’ prompt on the app that drives to the campaign on TikTok
Online display ads that tease what-happens-next moments
Out-of-home advertising that asks people if they’re ready to fall in love during the Superbowl
What happens if the $50M+ budget I had envisioned for this campaign is a little on the high side?
We adapt, of course.
At its core, the concept hangs on
So, let’s start by working backwards.
At its core, this is a content marketing campaign that relies on great storytelling. The strength of the content is more important than where it’s hosted.
The ‘show’ could live on Snack’s social channels (in a similar vein to how they operate now) or as a dedicated YouTube series. There’s opportunity to partner with a streaming platform.
And if all else fails, there’s always the metaverse, right?
The juicy, cringey, and sweet pieces of content should be dispersed throughout the real world in the form of our favourite concoction: engaging creative + QR code that drives users to wherever the show is hosted.
Whether it’s a static image or a short video clip, assets should hook audiences by raising two questions:
What the hell is this?
What happens next?
Where are we when we’re not on our Superbowl Sunday sofas?
These days, the answer is anywhere. The goal here is to capture curiosity when people are relaxed, bored, or have time to kill.
Out-of-home opportunities include commuter-targeted ads: the bus, train, tube, or airport gate. We could also capture a cult atmosphere between gigs at a music festival, conference, or event.
There’s always opportunity to reach an audience in their own time through good old digital advertising. A display placement here, a YouTube ad there – you’d procrastinate those work emails to see if Snacker 1 and Snacker 2 could overcome that awkward silence, wouldn’t you?
Why the Superbowl?
Well. Because it’s the Superbowl.
And also, it’s a great stage to reach the audience we’re after.
54% of millennials surveyed said they watched the Superbowl in 2021
52% of females surveyed said they were likely to watch
69% of males surveyed said they were likely to watch
75% of 18–34-year-olds surveyed said they were likely to watch the Superbowl in 2022
This matches up nicely with dating app demographics (based on Tinder):
60% of users are age 18-34
24% are female
75% are male
Why a dating show?
If you’ve scrolled through your Netflix feed or TV guide lately, you probably don’t need me to explain this part.
The Bachelor has been running for 26 seasons. Add in spin-offs like The Bachelorette, The Bachelor in Paradise, The Bachelor Pad, The Bachelor Winter Games (yes that’s a real thing), The Bachelor in Disneyland (I made that one up), and that’s millions of people around the world engaged in other people’s love lives.
By today’s standards, The Bachelor is relatively retro. Shows like Love Island, Ex on The Beach, and 90 Day Fiancé have seen massive viewership in the last decade.
Add a global pandemic into the mix and the popularity of dating shows as soared in recent years.
And they’re great for all the same reasons that this imaginary campaign would be great:
They provide a fun distraction
They appeal to our guilty pleasure curiosities
They come packaged within a fun online community where audience participation is perhaps more enjoyable than the outcomes themselves
Are you hungry yet?
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve just spent a lot of time reading about an imaginary content campaign that never happened and (probably) never will. So, what was the point?
Well, hopefully a little blue-sky thinking has you tracing your own shapes around the clouds. And I believe there are also a few key concepts that can be applied to even a peewee-sized campaign:
Content marketing can be outside of the box (Red Bull already taught us that) as long as the core concept of your campaign aligns with your product.
Multi-media makes sense for modern audiences, so diversify your channels and create content that can travel across multiple platforms.
Match the audience’s mood and make it easy for them to engage with what’s in front of them at that moment.
Appeal to emotion – after all, everyone loves a love story, right?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. As I was working on this, Tinder announced they've launched a 'blind dating' feature on the app that's geared towards Gen Z. Tinder, you should have called me first and I would have pitched you guys a $65M campaign for the launch. Next time, eh?