The Super Bowl isn’t just the biggest game of the year. It’s also the biggest day of the year for marketers, some of whom will be spending a huge chunk of their annual advertising budgets on a single 30-second TV spot in the hopes that the Super Bowl’s huge, and rabidly engaged, audience will be the silver bullet they need to propel awareness and sales to hitherto unseen heights.

But, at $5 Million for a 30-second spot (not to mention the cost of producing such a spot, which can easily run into the millions), the Super Bowl might not be in every brand’s budget. That doesn’t mean that savvy marketers can’t find ways to take advantage of the massive hype surrounding the big game though, as some brands and their agencies have come up with some pretty clever ways to capitalize on the hype, without breaking the bank.

1. The Hashtag Highjack

At Junction we’ve long been fans of what we call #ConferenceJacking – that is, buying a promoted tweet for a conference hashtag to promote ourselves. The same idea has been used successfully by a number of brands, but the best example is the tweet that changed realtime marketing forever, Oreo’s infamous “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark” tweet during Superbowl 47.

The tweet worked incredibly well, getting retweeted over 10,000 times within an hour and generating tens of millions of earned impressions. The success of the tweet wasn’t just luck though, as Oreo’s agency had staffed a Super Bowl war-room of copy-writers, designers, strategists and client-side marketers to be primed to react to anything that happening during the game. As a result they we’re able to get the tweet posted within just a couple minutes of the notorious power outage, capitalizing in a break in the game and the audience’s inevitable switch to their second-screens.

So what can we learn from Oreo’s success? The most important takeaway is that real-time marketing requires planning, and putting the right resources in the right place at the right time. If you’re trying to take advantage of the hype around an event, you need to be actively listening to the conversation around the event, both online and IRL, and you need to have people and systems in place to take advantage of opportunities as quickly as they happen. Creating templates for content, streamlining approvals processes, and empowering your social teams to trust their instincts is critical.

2. Creative Media Buying

Super Bowl ad spots might be expensive, but they’re not the only game in town when it comes to cashing in on the hype around the event. Esurance made a big splash two years ago with their $1.5 Million giveaway, thanks in part to some creative media buying. Rather than buy a primetime Super Bowl spot, they bought ads during the time slot directly after the Super Bowl, assuming much of the Super Bowl audience would still be tuned in and then used the money they saved on their media buy to offer a huge cash giveaway via Twitter. Any time you give away $1.5 Million over Twitter, it’s going to get some attention, but ESurance’s creative approach generated some pretty incredible results. Their campaign earned over a BILLION brand impressions, and grew their Twitter following by over 150 THOUSAND followers.

Now, ESurance’s success doesn’t mean marketers need to give away millions just to get people to pay attention, but it does offer some inspiration in terms of how we can use creative placements to capture the attention around big ticket events without paying top dollar. Rather than place media in prime times or locations, look for opportunities to buy media around the event you’re trying to hijack. Instead of buying a billboard in the stadium for the big game, buy restroom ads in sports bars near the stadium, or better yet, promote a tweet into the game’s hashtag stream.

Newcastle also utilized a creative placement strategy, with their “Band of Brands” spot, where instead of buying an expensive national Super Bowl spot, they opted instead for a much less expensive “regional” spot with a local network in Northern California, saving millions, but still allowing them to cash in on the hype surrounding the Superbowl.

3. Hype-Jacking

Some brands have had massive Super Bowl ad successes without even spending a dollar on media placements. Newcastle scored another huge win in 2014 with their “If We Made It” campaign that used the clever tactic of showing behind-the-scenes footage of the Super Bowl ad they would have made using a microsite and a host of integrated media content. By creating great content people actually wanted to watch, they were able to cash in on the excitement around Super Bowl ads without actually spending a dime on a Super Bowl spot.

Website building SAAS startup Squarespace is already winning this year’s Super Bowl with their brilliant campaign featuring comedians, Key & Peele, as “up and coming” amateur sportscasters who will be live-streaming their commentary of the game without ever actually mentioning the Super Bowl, as Squarespace hasn’t actually paid for the rights to use the NFL’s closely guarded trademark.

Both Newcastle and Squarespace’s campaigns demonstrate, to great effect, that creating great content is the most important part of any marketing campaign, and when that great content just happens to tie into the hype surrounding North America’s biggest sporting day of the year, its reach and effectiveness will be massively multiplied.