Fake marketing case study: The most epic Super Bowl commercial that Newcastle Ale didn’t make

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Brown Ale brand Newcastle in the USA couldn’t afford to advertise in the 2014 Super Bowl and even if they did have the budget, an exclusive deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev would have prevented them from securing any airtime during the big game anyway. As creating a TV commercial was out of the question, Newcastle ran a marketing campaign around the TV commercial they would have made – “If we made it.” The brewer punched above its weight with the campaign generating a greater buzz than the richer and legitimate sponsors of the game.

Case study summary

• As part of the Newcastle “No bollocks” campaign, the brewer created a series of “If we made it” videos, depicting the TV commercial they would have made for the Super Bowl if they had the budget

• The “No bollocks” campaign was a perfect insight to the modern millennial man and was played out in the digital world

• The campaign won 13 Cannes Lions Awards

• The campaign generated over 1 billion impressions and its video content viewed over 10 million times

The challenge

The American Super Bowl is one of the biggest advertising opportunities of the year, with brands spending millions of dollars to appear for 30 seconds during the commercial breaks. Super Bowl advertising slots have some of the most unique, innovative and star studded commercials on American TV, and are watched by a global audience of over 1 billion.

Smaller brands whose annual media budgets are less than the price tag of a Super Bowl commercial slot have no chance of competing in the Super Bowel TV commercial extravaganza. In fact they can’t even use the words “Super Bowl” in any advertising as other brands have exclusive contracts with the event.

Newcastle needed to come up with a campaign that still allowed them to make the most of the buzz surrounding the Super Bowl but not directly advertise at the event.

The solution

Newcastle launched the “If we made it” video series as part of the “No bollocks” campaign. The videos mocked the marketing and media industry in the run up to the Super Bowl. The idea behind the campaign was “don’t make fun of the brand, make fun of the process, and make fun of ourselves”.

The campaign described the commercial Newcastle would have made if it had enough money to appear at the Super Bowl. The ambitious and clever campaign described how epic and awesome the commercial would have been. It featured video clips, crazy storyboards, melodramatic teasers, confused focus groups, takedowns of real Super Bowl commercials and a self-deprecating monologue by Anna Kendrick.

The results

The results of this campaign were fantastic; even though Newcastle didn’t have the rights or the budget to create a TVC for the Super Bowl they were able to create a campaign that engaged with their audience and went viral.

The overall campaign generated over 1 billion media impressions – a milestone for Newcastle. The 15 campaign videos were viewed 10 million times in total, and Newcastle was mentioned in 600 media news stories around Super Bowl Sunday. The campaigns success is even more impressive given the low stakes.

The campaign has been hailed as “the best ad of 2014” (AdWeek), and won 13 awards at the Cannes Lions Awards 2014.


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