Irony reigns supreme on Super Bowl Sunday, as the name of the event itself doesn’t mention football: It’s also the Super Bowl of halftime shows, the Super Bowl of hype, the Super Bowl of media coverage, and, of course, the Super Bowl of Advertising. A day when people grab a beer during a replay because the ads represent destination viewing. But, is it worth $4.5 million for one ad? Especially today when the cost of a tweet is about $4.5 million less. Are the companies who advertise really benefiting? Further, does pre-releasing the spots help or hurt? We address these topics and more in our special Post Super Bowl Monday edition.
Do Companies Really Benefit from Advertising During the Super Bowl?
By Scott Becher, EVP/Managing Director of Z Sports & Entertainment
Ok, America. One question for Post Super Bowl Monday:
Are you running out to your neighborhood drug store today to buy Jublia to cure your toenail fungus? You’d better be. Because Jublia spent a reported, record, $4.5 million on its 30-second Super Bowl ad. That’s $450k per toe, with Jublia banking that not just one, but all of your little piggies will go to market. Yes, Super Bowl advertising is the most expensive commercial companies can buy.
Guess, what. It’s also worth it. In fact, it’s a bargain!
There are three things that only Super Bowl advertising offers:
1. People actually want to see the commercials.
In the ad business, we’re typically about interrupting the content journey of consumers. But the Super Bowl is different. Viewers can’t wait to see the ads. In fact, the majority of people watch the Super Bowl to see the ads. At parties, there is plenty of noise during the game, but all is quiet during the commercials. They matter. And when ads strike the right cord, pop culture magic awaits (remember Budweiser’s “Wasssssupppppp?”)
2. It’s live.
We live in the era of the DVR. More than 50 percent of homes have them. We’re typically too busy to watch our favorite shows plus the accompanying commercials. So we record the program and skip the ads. That rarely happens with the Super Bowl. In fact, many DVR the game precisely to view the commercials again later.
3. Earned media.
This perhaps is the most significant Super Bowl ad phenomenon of the social media age. Ads are posted well before Super Sunday. Some receive a million or more views. Bud Light’s teasers and pre-released Super Bowl commercial accumulated more than 10-million views by the Thursday before Super Bowl Sunday. Then there is sharing on Facebook and Twitter. This kind of digital and social talk-factor is reserved only for the biggest global events, like the Super Bowl, which is the largest TV event of the year. And these tactics dramatically extend the impact of any game-day ad.
That said, there’s nothing automatic about Super Bowl ad success. You’d better bring your “A” game.
If the creative message doesn’t strike the right cord (see GoDaddy and Nationwide), prepare for a public backlash. Trying too hard to stand out can often backfire. The Nationwide spot is the most perplexing one to me. During the football season, Nationwide cut through the clutter with its memorable ads featuring self-deprecating Peyton Manning singing everyday thoughts to the Nationwide jingle. Chicken parm never tasted (or sounded) so good. But then comes the Super Bowl, and the company chose not to build on that equity. Instead, it produced a serious spot about child deaths that many found quite disturbing. Expensive miss.
Media buyers point out there are less risky alternatives to a pricey Super Bowl ad buy. Adweek recently cited a few: four days of Facebook Reach Blocks, five YouTube Masthead Ads, Ten “Premium Day” promoted Tweets.
Yes, the math works out the same. And, these all are excellent media platforms. But none deliver the anticipation and warm welcome of Super Bowl ads.
Look, we advertisers and agencies are in business to generate sales. The goal is to motivate purchase and drive revenue. Anything less is hollow.
Super Bowl advertising is the rare platform where our consumers are giving us permission to win them over.
That’s a great deal every time.
Just make sure to give the ball to your creative superstar when you are on the one-yard line. Otherwise, you just might throw a game-ending interception.