Smarter advertising is needed … whether you’re managing a multi-million dollar marketing budget or scraping ad campaigns together with pennies.

Many of the pricey ads that appear in Times Square or during the Super Bowl get a lot of attention. However, their cost doesn’t determine their success.

By thinking creatively & taking advantage of advancing technology, smaller brands on limited budgets can enjoy the same positive results as bigger players.

Get inspired by smaller brand strategies below, and see how their ads compare to recent big-budget favorites.


1. Smarter Advertising By Thinking Outside Traditional Media

Not every ad campaign needs to air on TV during primetime hours.

To better promote the MiniCooper to unimpressed drivers in the United States in the early 2000s, Mini’s Let’s Motor campaign spent its $25 million budget less traditionally, with positive results.

The brand, which was trying to increase exposure in the US market, traded pricey TV ads for face-to-face interactions with their audience at malls & busy public places.

Instead of trying to beat already established brands on their home turf, Mini chose a new strategy.

In the end, the effort doubled brand awareness after one year. $25 million may still seem like a huge budget to a small brand, but with many automobile companies spending $2 to $3 billion dollars on advertising per year, the individual campaign was comparably affordable.

Don’t forget to consider new channels or places your dollar could go further, even if you’re alone among your competitors. Rather than getting stuck in a rut, you could find yourself ahead of the curve.

2. Partnering Wisely

The Art Institute of Chicago doesn’t have the deep pockets of a major corporation, but with a savvy idea for a partnership with Airbnb, the museum, working with Leo Burnett Chicago, took $500,000 and created their most visited exhibit ever—and a $2 million boost in revenue.

As the first US museum to ever exhibit all three paintings in Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” series together, the Art Institute of Chicago wanted to raise awareness and ticket sales ahead of its historic opening.

To do it, the museum trusted Leo Burnett Chicago to build a replica of the bedroom depicted in the paintings. Then, each bedroom was made available for anyone to rent on Airbnb.

Talk about smarter advertising!

Rather than investing in routine or traditional advertising, Leo Burnett improved the brand’s reach drastically by choosing an unexpected platform.

Consider partnering with other brands for smarter advertising. Choose companies your target audience already trusts and pitch a partnership that could be mutually beneficial.

3. Get Inspired, then Scale

Lamenting the fact that you can’t afford to buy prime ad space?

Try taking inspiration from larger brands who can, and then scale down.

One 30 second ad in the Super Bowl cost $5 million dollars in 2018.

Facebook and Instagram, by contrast, have advertising options that fit a variety of budgets, and a newer Facebook feature called Flex Targeting allows you to send your ads out only to customers who match profiles you set up ahead of time.

This is a great way to make sure you’re spending efficiently by reaching the right people.

Even large brands are becoming more sensitive to where their ad dollars are going, with Proctor & Gamble as the latest big-name brand to improve its efficiency by slashing a bloated budget.

A few things large, expensive ad campaigns are often (though not always) good at? Beautiful imagery, effective messaging, and good laughs.

Even if your next ad campaign will look nothing like a Super Bowl ad, large-scale campaigns can serve as inspiration.

While being able to spend more may always remain a goal for you, it isn’t the ticket to effectively increasing brand awareness or your customer base.

Even established brands have to be realistic about what they can spend.

Smarter advertising is a constantly evolving strategy!

Smarter Advertising Is The Future

We’ve seen firsthand what happens with stale advertising. It takes daily optimization and innovation to keep conversions steady during your campaigns.

That, along with the new trends and “rules” of digital advertising, mean you need at least one person dedicated to your advertising efforts.

Lastly, pricing alone doesn’t dictate the success of your campaigns.

Even small budgets have seen big wins … and that’s truly what smarter advertising means!