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Small brands, small budgets & big Super Bowl wins

The Chiefs won the Super Bowl this year, but State Farm and Dunkin’ Donuts won the “best Super Bowl ads” title, according to USA Today survey. The 30-second ad spots alone cost $7 million each, and who knows how much they paid on top of that for the big-time actors they both featured. 

But what about the smaller retailers without 7 million to spare - what are these small brands left to do to create buzz on a budget, and still get noticed amidst all these bigger players?

Just because they can’t hire Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ben Affleck for a 30-second ad spot, doesn’t mean small businesses should sit out - quite the opposite in fact. Without the added pressure of having to make a 7 million dollar ad, smaller retailers can get creative and make something completely “their own”, that their audience can still appreciate. 

We took a look at 5 small businesses that did just that - made the most of what they had, and joined in on the 2024 Super Bowl hype, without spending millions, or in some cases even thousands to do so. 

DUDE Wipes 

The first spot goes to DUDE Wipes and their Super Bowl strategy on X. DUDE Wipes sells on-the-go sanitary wipes for men - it’s not the sexiest product, but there is a lot of audience overlap between their target audience and all the “Sports Dudes” tuning into the Superbowl. You can see that when we look at their audience’s level of interest in the NFL, using Affinio: 

Audiense blog - DUDE Wipes audience

This year they purchased billboard space in the Las Vegas area right before Super Bowl LVIII, which you could argue was probably not cheap. But it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than an ad spot on TV. The genius here was in the humor used on the billboards, but even more so, the distribution of the photos of the billboards on social media

This is a great idea for small businesses that can’t afford a TV spot, but can afford billboard space. We’re not talking about Las Vegas billboard space - The billboard can be located in any city (maybe where the small business, or its target customers reside).  

The whole point is to make the billboards memorable, smart, and funny, so that when you post pictures of the billboards on social media, it stands out, getting way more eyes on the photos of the billboard than the actual billboard itself. 

The DUDE Wipes billboard photos got thousands of views on X, and they were able to really spread the investment they had made. 

The ad space bought by a small business for the Super Bowl doesn’t even have to be in the form of a billboard - maybe it’s a poster ad that’s hung up in the business’s storefront, or ad space bought in the local newspaper. As long as you can take a picture of the ad and share it on social media, and it’s funny enough, you will get eyes on it, and that’s what matters. This strategy works for even the smallest of budgets, so there’s no excuse for small businesses to not get involved. 

The only stipulation is that anyone publishing Super Bowl-related ads has to make sure they just don’t mention words that are technically owned by the NFL.

Hoff and Pepper 

Hoff and Pepper, the handmade small-batch hot sauce brand from Tennessee, is a second example of a smaller retailer doing more with less. 

Leading up to the game they chose to post videos on Instagram of “game day” appetizer recipes that included their line of hot sauces. 

Videos like these, for food/condiment brands, are low-hanging fruit. It’s the best way to advertise your product before the big game. It actually feels wrong if a food brand doesn’t post game day recipes, because the concept is so easy, not to mention it encourages the sale of your product if people choose to make that recipe for the Super Bowl. 

These recipe videos can be low-budget (meaning they’re made by your social media team), or brands can choose to spend a bit more money to work with food influencers to create recipes and expose them to their own audiences. 

Another idea, if you can’t come up with a recipe,  is to partner up with another small food business, to do a giveaway before the big game. This idea is cheaper than working with an influencer, but it’s still helping both retailers expose themselves to the other retailers' audience. This is exactly what small sauce brand BITCHIN’ SAUCE did when they partnered with Simple Mills, a small cracker brand.  

This was genius because if BITCHIN’ SAUCE had only posted a solo Super Bowl giveaway to their page, they would have only had an audience of 72K followers (their follower count on Instagram). But by partnering with Simple Mills, they now had exposure to Simple Mill’s 262K followers as well. 

Both strategies used by Hoff and Pepper and BITCHIN’ SAUCE cost them virtually nothing but allowed them to join in on the Super Bowl excitement, and get more eyes on their product. 

Another thing to note, is that brands aren’t only limited to posting stuff before the game. If you miss the deadline and haven’t posted anything leading up to the big game, you can still promote your small business after the fact. 

Bachan’s, the all-natural Japanese sauce brand, created a funny meme after the game that made a nod to Usher’s halftime performance: 

Something so simple can still have an impact, and it can relate your brand back to one of the biggest sporting events of the year. 

So whether its videos, giveaways, or brand partnerships before the big game, or even memes you create after the fact - no matter what your budget is, there’s no excuse not to create some type of free content for your audience in theme with the Super Bowl.  


Maybe your team doesn’t want to go the video content route, and you don’t have the budget for influencers or promotions. Not to worry, you can get creative like Aloha did. 

Aloha is a small brand that sells organic plant-based protein bars. They know their audience isn’t made up of die hard NFL fans…

Audiense blog - Aloha audience

… but they didn’t sit out because of it. 

Before game day, they engaged their audience in a fun way that didn’t require their audience to even know anything about the approaching game. 

Take a look at their simple (and free) Instagram post: 

This is a great Super Bowl post for small businesses’ who a) don’t want to spend any money on the post itself b) whose audience aren’t football fans, and c) still want to engage their audience around the Super Bowl “theme”.

Aloha wasn’t asking their audience “Who do you think will win the game”, but “Who do you think would win out of all these flavors” - it’s so simple but it works, and it keeps the target audience’s interest in mind.

When you’re small business is committed to not spending any ad budget on your social posts, it takes the pressure off so you can test out posts like this one. 

Another option is leaving it with your graphic designer to just create something that is visually appealing, features your product, and still acknowledges the approaching game, like the CBD drink brand Recess did: 

Like these two ideas above, it doesn’t have to be rocket science, and even if the post doesn’t gain thousands of likes, at least you put something out there. 

If you do have the time to put some deeper thought into it though, you can use audience intelligence to understand the types of imagery your audience gravitates towards, so you can make your Super Bowl content in the same style - and get those thousands of likes! 

Here’s an example of what that feature looks like in Audiense: 

Audiense blog - Personality Insights

The photo above is a depiction of “personality insights” on Aloha’s audience. This feature uses IBM Watson to uncover the characteristics of audience members that can be used to inform content that will perform well for this audience type. 

Aloha’s audience has “High Conscientiousness”, and the images and aesthetics used in posts for this audience should look like this: 

Audiense blog - Personality Insights - IBM Watson

Coastal Caviar 

Coastal Caviar is a small charm-necklace brand, and pre-Super Bowl it wasn’t very well known. For this reason, they probably didn’t have very much money to spend on Super Bowl ads. 

Additionally, their target audience isn’t exactly made up of Football Diehards. This audience IS however made up of Taylor Swift fans, and unless you live under a rock, you know that for some viewers this year, Taylor Swift was the Super Bowl. 

Coastal Caviar knew this and decided to create a “Chiefs” inspired charm necklace for Taylor to wear to the game, then posted a video about it on TikTok

This first video gained over 88 thousand views, and the videos that followed had hundreds of thousands of views. It grew into a whole series of videos that ended with the necklace eventually making it to Taylor Swift. 

@shopcoastalcaviar This is our Super Bowl. Literally. 🙏 @keleighteller @Taylor Swift #charmnecklace ♬ original sound - Coastal Caviar

This was a genius way to promote the product and increase sales of the charm necklaces (because everyone wanted one if Taylor Swift had one). It was also another great example of how smaller retailers can include an audience who aren’t your typical Football fans into a “Super Bowl” conversation. 

And the best part was, all this media attention only cost them the price of a charm necklace -  genius! 

SHITI Coolers 

If your small business can’t afford a commercial spot during the Super Bowl game, or can’t even afford a commercial on your local TV station, don’t be discouraged. YouTube ads can have just as much of an effect. In fact they can be even more targeted to your audience, meaning they have a higher ROI. 

The free version of this, as a small business, is creating a video that “would have been your Super Bowl” ad and posting it to your YouTube channel, like SHITI Coolers, the Party Cooler brand, did: 


You can take the video and share the link across all of your other social channels, at no extra cost. 

However, unless you’re super resourceful, the video itself might cost a bit of money to produce. But, if you can make it memorable, and funny, then audiences will share it with their audiences, and it has the potential to go viral. A viral video can get almost as many eyes on it as a Super Bowl ad would.

The BEST example of this was Dollar Shave Club, before they blew up into the big company they are now. They created a YouTube commercial that was so funny it got millions of views, and the brand became well-known after it aired. This commercial wasn’t released around the time of the Super Bowl, but it’s an example of a small brand that used YouTube ads to their advantage, when they didn’t have a huge marketing budget to work with. 


Whatever your marketing budget, don’t sit out on big events just because the big brands are paying all the attention. There is still a lot of buzz to be created by small retailers, with small budgets on social media. 

As a small retailer you want to make the most out of your budget campaigns. Sign up for Audiense and uncover what ads/content your audience really wants to see in those campaigns. So when you do join in on the “Super Bowl'' hype, it has a higher chance of resonating with your target audience, making sure all of your ads are a “touchdown”.

Audiense blog - Start a trial - Audiense Insights