Candy Industry Senior Editor Liz Parker was recently able to talk to Ibotta CMO Rich Donahue about how the Big Game can affect consumer purchasing, and how manufacturers can leverage the event for their television ads.

Liz Parker: How can the Big Game affect CPG purchasing?

Rich Donahue: The Big Game can affect CPG purchasing in a couple of different ways. First, in the days and weeks leading up to the game, shoppers tend to change their buying habits, stocking up on their favorite Game Day foods and drinks like chips, dips, chicken wings, frozen pizza, soda, beer, and more. CPG brands have an opportunity to take advantage of that change in behavior to not only drive sales but have a chance to build brand loyalty.

While the main appeal of the Big Game is to cheer, laugh, and share a moment of togetherness, a close second is the famous Big Game advertisements. But, for CPG brands, the appeal is to connect with the over 110 million people watching the game. And these brands bet big, spending millions of dollars for a coveted advertising spot during the game in hopes of becoming and staying top of mind for the households across the world who are watching. 


LP: How can companies use their Big Game ads to increase purchasing?

RD: The ad is just one part of the equation. Brands utilize these ads to drive interest pre and post-event, and oftentimes include a full marketing activation alongside it, like in-store displays, promotions, and giveaways. However, companies can and should look to support that advertisement with other tactics to amplify their investment. 

Sales-driving tactics are particularly important, such as the Ibotta Performance Network (IPN). We want to help these companies convert these important potential customers and ensure the consumer plans to purchase their products before they even walk in the store.

A great example of this is our work with Nerds Gummy Clusters—not your typically big game snack, but a big opportunity for the brand. We launched our campaign back in January to help bring their shopper campaign to life and capture the attention of grocery shoppers as they prep for the game and their parties. Since kicking off the campaign, Nerds has seen a 52.4% lift in daily sales. Pairing this omnichannel approach with their first-ever Big Game ad is a strategic and well thought out piece of how they are looking to maximize their campaign for the big event. 


LP: How can promotions on candy and gum increase purchasing?

RD: The Ibotta Performance Network has perfected a three-tiered approach to ensure brands get maximum results from their ad spend: offering the right promotion, to the right consumer, at the right time. However, it’s not just about promotions. 

Candy and gum are notoriously impulse-driven purchases, so having those types of purchases top of mind before a shopper even walks into the store becomes incremental and additive to the normal buying cycle. When consumers know they’re getting a great deal, it helps seal the purchase and build brand loyalty.


LP: Why are consumers looking to buy treats such as candy and confectionery items for the Big Game?

RD: Many people have get-togethers for the Big Game, and hosts want to ensure they have something for everyone – both savory and sweet – in order to accommodate guests with different tastes. Additionally, candy is an easy crowd-pleaser, which allows the host to enjoy their party as well, and not be stuck in the kitchen preparing elaborate treats or dishes.

The Big Game is also an opportunity to drive sales outside of a “candy holiday," like Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, and candy always see a big boost in merchandise volume and prices are reduced during these windows. The game becomes an early start to this key window and helps to build momentum leading up to Valentine’s Day.

In fact, in February 2023, Ibotta saw brands in the candy category reduce their prices by at least 24% YoY. The category indexes high throughout the month meaning it’s a time when consumers are looking to buy sugary treats.


LP: What other moments during the year could CPG companies activate ads, in order to increase sales?

RD: There are plenty of key moments in time throughout the year to leverage advertisements—Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, back-to-school season, Halloween, and Christmas—the list goes on and on. Just walk through any store on any given week and you’ll see the opportunity to be relevant to consumers and insert yourself and your brand into that time of year.

The difference lies in the ability to create a moment for yourself that makes sense. Finding a natural connection between your brand and the season or holiday allows you to create a buying opportunity you may not have otherwise had, as well as build loyalty. Pair that with a promotion and it helps convert the customer to make a purchase, which allows you to then be part of their special event or daily routine.  

Pointing back to Ibotta’s work with Nerds, they were able to create a moment that convinced folks that they should be included in their Big Game parties, or at the very least give them a try. Paired with the Ibotta Performance Network, they were able to increase their daily sales lift by over 50% in just a month—pair that with a Big Game ad and they’re already set up for success.