Ad Agency’s Super Bowl Party Generates National Attention

I’m in Indianapolis this week to conduct a social media | new business workshop for a new client. The atmosphere here is exciting. The Colts are beloved in this city. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about them and the Super Bowl, from our Southwest pilot, the hotel shuttle driver and registration agents, all are ecstatic over their pro team. Indianapolis schools will even start 1 hour later on Monday to accommodate children, teachers and bus drivers who will be up late Sunday night watching the game.

The ADBOWL capitalizes on the Superbowl of Advertising.

You’ve probably heard of ADBOWL, but you may not know that the idea originated  at a midsize ad agency’s Super Bowl party in Albuquerque, NM. Ten years later, growing in size every year, the idea has paid great dividends to the agency generating national television, press coverage and positioning it as an industry leader.

For a decade McKee Wallwork Cleveland has capitalized on this event that has brought national attention to their Albuquerque, NM advertising agency with the ADBOWL.

Steve McKee, President of McKee Wallwork Cleveland, shared with me how the idea for ADBOWL came about and what it has done to build awareness for his agency:

ADBOWL started as a lark. Ten years ago, we thought it would be fun to have a Super Bowl commercials party at the agency, so we did. We handed out little paper ballots on which attendees rated the spots. Pretty humble beginnings.

The next year we put it online and thought we would promote it within the industry. We approached ADWEEK and they thought it was a fun idea, so they gave us some free ad space to spread the word.

One thing then led to another, and in subsequent years things have taken off. ADBOWL has done wonders for the agency on many levels:

First, it gets us lots of free press, which is great for the “I’ve heard of you” factor. It’s gotten us in every major newspaper and trade magazine, on network affiliates all over the country, and even on national TV (a few times). It’s a great door-opener.

Second, it reinforces our desired positioning as an advertising industry leader. We are the expert “color commentators” on the year’s biggest day of advertising.

And third, it has offered us amazing opportunities to learn (by doing) new media. For example, we worked with Sprint to pioneer text-based voting that is now used far and wide, including on American Idol.

In the first years it was a pretty complex thing to execute–we really didn’t know what we were getting into. But as technology has evolved we’ve gotten it down to a science. We try to make incremental improvements each year but keep the user experience very simple and fun.”

ADBOWL previous winners:

2009 – Bridgestone Taters
2008 – Budweiser’s “Clydesdale Team”
2007 – Bud Light’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors”
2006 – Bud Light’s “Hidden Fridge”
2005 – Anheuser-Busch’s “Applause”
2004 – Budweiser’s “Donkey Dream”

ADBOWL, There’s an app for that!

Follow ADBOWL 2010 on Twitter

Steve McKee recently wrote a book, When Growth Stalls that was made available in March of last year. Steve has been generating sales using FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter. The book provides additional promotion for the agency and further position it as an industry leader.

Encourage your staff to be creative in ways to promote your agency. If you have examples of creative promotions to share, please include in the comment section of this post.

Additional articles regarding ad agency promotion:


About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

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