Super Bowl XLIV Ads a Wise Investment

February 10th, 2010 by Brian Edwards

Committing to buying a spot in the Super Bowl is always a big risk due to the vast sums of money at stake.  For those with the wherewithal to pull it off, a big splash around the Super Bowl may generate more buzz than a year’s worth of mediocrity.

The year’s game, featuring one of football’s biggest stars in Peyton Manning and the feel good story of the past year in the New Orleans Saints, was the most watched TV show in the United States ever with 106.5 million viewers.  With all the entertainment options people have now compared to when the previous record was set by the MASH finale in 1983, this is an amazing accomplishment. 

Even more astonishing, people don’t DVR the Super Bowl and zip past the ads; instead they sit in groups and watch the ads intently hoping for a big laugh. In my case, I printed out a list of the expected ads from adbowl.com and had the people at the party help me decide on the rankings.  (Next year, I’ll be doing this in realtime with the aid of my iPad).

More than just the massive, rapt audience, marketers also get the benefit of all the hype and exposure surrounding the Super Bowl.

And, now, it has caught on with social media.

BtoB magazine reports that of the 38 brands that ran TV spots during the Super Bowl, 75% saw the number of blog posts about their brands double, compared with the average number of blog posts on Sunday evenings over the past six months. Overall, blog posts about the Super Bowl increased to 25,725 this year, up from 15,702 last year. Of these, more than 3,600 posts were specifically related to advertising. Twitter also saw increased Super Bowl-related activity, with more than 720,000 tweets about the game.

Seriously, if you’re a marketer and you’re considering this brand-building extravaganza, do it. But do it right.

Here are a few basic observations on what “right” looks like. It still boggles the mind that companies can get this wrong. I’m not going to bash anyone, but there were some real stinkers in the mix, as there have been in the past.

  1. Be clever and funny.  David Letterman nailed this with his 10 second spot with Oprah and Leno.  Did it help Leno?  Who cares, it was funny and led to gobs of media coverage. Learn from this folks. We’re watching the Super Bowl at a party and we want to be amused.
  2. Don’t get old and worn out. Hey is anyone home at eTrade and GoDaddy?  The baby thing isn’t funny anymore (loved it first time out) and GoDaddy, it’s time to move on. Come up with something new.
  3. Big names doing funny things work. The consensus #1 ad this year was Snicker’s with Betty White and Abe Vigoda.  Hyunda’s ancient Brett Farve and VW’s Punch Dub with Stevie Wonder and Tracy Morgan also were hits with the audience.
  4. If you can’t be funny, sentimental works too. Google’s surprise ad – which had been on YouTube for a few months – about using search for Paris love was fantastic.  Our crowd thought that it was the winner.
  5. Keep coming back – but with new stuff. Audi’s brand is quickly moving to the top of the charts.  The German automaker has been on the Super Bowl roster for a couple of years and had a clever entry this year.
  6. Maximize you PR and social media outreach. Be sure to wrap lots of marketing, PR and social media activities around your investment in the Super Bowl.

If you missed out on the Super Bowl, you still have some big sporting events on tap. In particular you might want to think about real football, as in Futbol or Fußball, like what’s played everywhere else on the planet. If the US team makes the World Cup quarterfinals or semifinals it will be huge.  Or not.  Like it or not,  the Super Bowl is the biggest and best brand building machine in the US today.

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