Five Super Bowl Ad Lessons for Private Schools

I am always a little sad when football season is over, and the Super Bowl Champion is crowned. Even though my team wasn’t in the final game, I enjoyed how many of the playoff games, including the Super Bowl, came down to the final minutes.

It’s amazing to me how much brands will spend on 30- to 60-second ads during the Super Bowl. In fact, many people will actually watch the big game only for the ads. This year was no exception.

With an average of $6.5 Million spent on a 30-second ad, that is a significant amount of money on the hopes that an ad will resonate, connect, and create an impression strong enough to make you do something.

From the floating QR code by Coinbase to the humorous animals in the Dorito’s and Cheeto’s commercials to the many ads featuring sports and movie stars, this year’s ads had it all—some winners and some losers. That conversation is for another blog post.

As you work on your school’s marketing strategy, there are five lessons we can learn from this year’s Super Bowl ads:

1—Don’t Spend the Money

Let me start here. Super Bowl ads are a form of Outbound Marketing. These traditional ads are interrupting a good game and hoping that you will pay attention to the brand. Their goal is to create awareness for their brand in hope that you will make a purchase. It’s the most expensive form of marketing and the least effective, unless you have a crazy large budget.

This form of marketing doesn’t work for schools. Sure, the argument can be made that Outbound Marketing may create awareness for your school. However, you would have to spend a boatload of money to make a difference. I don’t think you should spend the money on traditional forms of advertising.

2—Use Influencers and Stars

Many of the ads featured stars and influencers to pitch or endorse the product in the ad. The idea is to associate a well-loved sports or movie star with a particular brand to influence you to make a purchase.

This can also work for a private school, however with a twist. What doesn’t work for you is to hire a sports or movie star to endorse your school. You actually want to use an influencer that can influence others through an authentic testimonial or story. You want to use the stars of your school—your faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni! This is real influencer marketing for a school.

3—Be Creative and Create Buzz

I love the creativity of some of the Super Bowl ads. However, not every ad succeeded. Some ads totally missed the mark. This is the danger of creativity, in going too far that you fail to connect with your intended audience.

Creativity can and should be used in your school’s marketing effort. I’ve seen some very creative school marketing videos and social media campaigns over the years. This requires the work of a team and people that are gifted in being creative.

4—Focus on Your Half-time Show

This year’s halftime show took many in the audience back to a younger age. The show’s focus was to entertain the audience in between the first half and the second half of the game.

Your school has a half-time at the mid-point of the school year. This is usually the time when you ask parents to re-enroll for another year. Or, perhaps, you don’t do anything at all with your Continuous Enrollment plan in place. In either case, you want to use this mid-point to market your school internally back to your primary customer base—your current parents. This is your half-time show and it needs to be good.

5—Focus on Strategies that Work

Finally, while it might be worth the expense for big brands to purchase a Super Bowl spot, it is important for you to focus on strategies that work for your school. My focus is always on Inbound and WOMbound (a word I coined several years ago) marketing strategies to drive interest in a school.

You want to use the power of word-of-mouth to inspire more conversations and stories in your community. This naturally takes place in authentic conversations between friends and is not coerced in any way. It is a gentle nudge from one friend to another to consider your school. This is and continues to be the number one way that parents discover your school.

This person-to-person, word-of-mouth is then coupled with online storytelling strategies that help to amplify your school. Through your website, social media, content, videos and more, you can use Inbound Marketing to inspire more word-of-mouth.

These strategies should be the focus of your school’s marketing effort. Super Bowl ads are flashy and expensive. Your marketing effort doesn’t have to be a budget buster.

Take the next step and apply these five lessons from this year’s Super Bowl ads to your private school’s marketing effort. Let me know if I can help. I would be glad to set up a free, no-obligation, coaching call to discuss your situation and needs. You can email me directly at You can also click on the following link to complete they form and I will contact you.


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