Downy’s Super Bowl LVII Game Plan is a Touchdown

December 15th, 2022 | Nicole Bond

While Super Bowl LVII is still two months away, an unprecedented move by Procter & Gamble’s Downy brand sparked interest in Super Bowl marketing earlier than ever. On December 12, Downy Unstopables kicked off its multifaceted Super Bowl campaign with a 30-second spot and social media teasers, launching audiences into a two-month-long mystery of a celebrity spokesperson’s identity.

The overarching narrative of Downy Unstopable “Believe” campaign is centered around a masked celebrity who is refusing the brand’s offer to endorse its scent booster until it can prove the brand’s “12 weeks of freshness” claim to be true. The humorously mysterious campaign is set to be carried throughout seven new national TV spots and social media activations over the next few weeks, dropping hints on the celebrity’s identity while leading up to the shocking reveal during the second quarter of the big game.

The “Believe” campaign marks Downy’s first Super Bowl play since 2012, bringing the brand back to the big stage after over a decade away with its first-ever Super Bowl spot for its Unstopables scent boosters. Back in June, we predicted that 2022 NFL Marketing would be fueled in part by New Faces and Extended Places and this campaign effort for Downy Unstopables brings those two components to life in a compelling and engaging way.

Source: Downy’s Youtube Channel

Why do we love it?

Downy Unstopables is a new face in the mix of brands hoping to tap into the massive NFL audience. Prior to this ad, it had only allocated 2% of its national TV budget to NFL programming over the past year. Its investment in the 30-second Super Bowl spot will be 6x times what it has spent on NFL programming since December 2021 and shows the brand is taking a big swing to capture the millions of active viewers leading up to the Super Bowl LVII.

The play by Downy turns a Super Bowl moment into an entire experience for the audience to engage with, follow, and get excited about over multiple channels. It uses both the celebrity flair that has become the norm for Super Bowl marketing and an innovative twist in a way that gives life beyond its 30-second ad. It is also a clever narrative that not only delivers product awareness for Unstopables, but emphasizes its key marketing promise of 12 weeks of freshness in a personal and relatable manner. The brand has found a way to infuse its core value-add into a theme that garners audience attention, creating the opportunity for online conversations around the mystery celebrity. Despite only 19% of adults who follow sports stating that they would like to see household product brands have integration within sports, Downy has created a storyline and campaign that breaks a traditional mold and gets the audience involved over an extended period of time—all while creating relevance in a space where its product and services don’t naturally fit the fabric of the game.

Source: Downy’s Instagram

Why brands should pay attention to it?

As the price of a Super Bowl spot rises, brands have begun to question their investment and explore nuanced ways to stay relevant without shelling $7M or more to catch viewers during their snack break. But with nearly 50% of US adults who follow sports noticing ads of brands they have never heard of during games, it remains a delicate balance for brands as not many events throughout the year captivates an audience of 167M.

Downy’s Unstopable campaign demonstrates a compelling way in which brands can extend the lifecycle and relevance of their Super Bowl campaigns while ensuring eyeballs are locked on TV when the final spot is set to air. The anticipation Downy is creating through a mysterious identity and integrated storyline is a textbook example to follow when trying to expand Super bowl reach but it works because it’s authentic to what it has to offer consumers. Other brands should consider using one of marketing’s biggest stages to go beyond a general awareness grab and ensure viewers remember what their brand has to offer.

What does it mean for marketing in 2023, beyond Super Bowl LVII?

Consumers are growing tired of brands invading their spaces with inauthentic advertising plays. on the flip side, brands are actively seeking out ways to find relevance and mesh with consumers. Downy’s efforts show just how innovative brands will have to be in order to capture attention and points to a key theme in 2023 marketing: Brands putting the emphasis on the value to the consumer first. Downy’s Super Bowl plan emphasizes the marketing dichotomy and demonstrates how integrated and entertaining marketing strategies will be in the year ahead. Brands will have to create undisrupted experiences and foster opportunities in which consumers seek out engagement, regardless of platform.

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Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond is an Associate Director - Marketing Strategy, interpreting cross-channel marketing and consumer trends with a focus on telecom and financial services. She identifies consumer drivers and helps clients develop omnichannel marketing strategies.