Short answer – by leveling the playing field.
That's what beer brand Newcastle did. Instead of spending millions on a Super Bowl advertisement, they created a series of paradoxical videos entitled 'If we made it.' Their main video is 'The MEGA HUGE Football Game Ad Newcastle Could've Made' and it hammers at many cliches found in Super Bowl ads. Naked women, giant robots, aggressive monkeys, skateboarding cats... this ad has it all and it didn't cost millions to make or run.
As of this writing, the video has over 650,000 views in 3½ weeks, most of which are presumably from people actually watching the entire 2:28 video in its entirety without much distraction. Cost of the video? We're guessing anywhere from $500 to $5,000, depending on how much they paid for the writing, storyboards and extremely simple production.
Contrast this with a 30 second Super Bowl ad costing $4 million, and that's just for air time. Production cost for a 30 second Super Bowl ad itself? Guaranteed the number is closer to $500,000 than it is $5,000, especially if you use stars, lavish sets and special effects. Number of viewers? 111 million, at least during the first half. But with such a lopsided game, if your commercial was in the second half, odds are you received far fewer views.
So what is a Super Bowl viewer? Naturally, it's anyone sitting in front of the TV watching it. Or not watching it, if they happen to be engaged in conversation or focused on their food. It also includes people in the kitchen prepping food, people looking at their internet device or talking or texting on their phone, people in the bathroom, and anyone who turned on the TV, got bored and left the room.
111 million views? Not likely.
Then factor in how many ads these viewers have seen (50+) and the likelihood that YOUR ad made enough of an impression over all of the other ads to be even slightly remembered. Bloomberg Business Week did a survey the day after the Super Bowl and discovered the average viewer remembered less than 10% of the commercials from the previous day.
So which is the better deal? I'll take the 650,000 and counting focused views for $5,000 or less any day, over the “as many as” 111 million 'views' for, say $4.5 million total cost.
Lesson learned? When your competition is outspending you, let them. Your job is to find a way to level the playing field, find your new customers for pennies instead of for millions, and have fun at the same time.