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Superbowl Advertising — Worth $3M?

With the Superbowl, as of the writing of this article, quickly approaching, people are gearing up to watch the big game. There is, however, a...

A VW spot that received a lot of hype after the big game

With the Superbowl, as of the writing of this article, quickly approaching, people are gearing up to watch the big game. There is, however, a demographic just as large (if not larger) that don’t care about the Packers or the Steelers. This group watches the big game to be entertained by the commercials and to hang out with friends and family. While I see both approaches to be valid and find myself landing somewhere in the middle, the question still remains: is spending around $3 million for an ad spot on top of production costs worth the expense?

Google produces an emphatic “YES” from most marketing commentators, including the CEO of AdGenesis, Richard Smullen. In his article “Why Super Bowl Ads Should Cost 5x as Much,” Smullen argues that because of the additional hype and attention value, a thirty second spot should be worth much more than they are currently valued. Using a few key examples, he justifies that a strong call to action can overcome the lack of frequency and, coupled with the excitement over the big day, can create a stronger response. Looking at a few other sites, it seems like his opinion seems to be supported. From CNN Money’s statistics to the Associated Press’ love of GoDaddy, it seems as if everyone has jumped on the Super Bowl advertising bandwagon. There are some things, however, to also consider.

  1. Most Ads Get Lost in the Clutter – Yes, the Superbowl is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It also, however, is still a competition for the attention of viewers. Not only does an ad need to fight external distractions (viewers talking, eating, etc), but it also must compete against every other ad. $3 million doesn’t get you guaranteed return on your investment.
  2. PR is Sometimes a Better Option – What to do when the competition for attention is too great? Find a way to be the first one that’s different. For instance, this year Papa John’s is offering a free pizza every 45 seconds for people who order online, and if the Super Bowl goes into overtime, everyone in America gets a free pizza. The cost of all this PR? The same as a Super Bowl ad spot. What’s going to get more attention…a VW commercial about a bug or everyone in America getting a free pizza?
  3. Most Ads Still Fail to Activate — More advertisements than you think either fail to activate or activate for the wrong brand. Does anyone remember what company the “Secret Fridge” ad was for a few years ago? A quick survey among one of their key demographics showed that people remembered the ad but thought the company was anyone from Coors to Miller.
  4. Lack of Audience Focus – Yes your message gets to 100 million people, but how much of that is waste? A watered down message means risking the alienation of your audience or failing to stand out entirely.


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