How Super is the Super Bowl?

super-bowl-patriots-2015How Super is the Super Bowl? Well, super enough for a 1 hour game to last for 4 hours.

That means – loads of ads. Ads that cost $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. That’s 30 seconds of intense eyeballs. 30 seconds of a make or break show. And 30 seconds that cost you a whole lot of $$$$.

Every brand aspires that one day – it will be able to afford to spend those dollars. But is it really all that?

The question is: Do these actually help sell product or create lasting brand awareness?

Bill Coontz from the Dalton Agency has his opinions, and I’d say strong ones. Bill believes the answer is a resounding no, especially considering consumers’ fleeting attention span.

A study by marketing data science company Genesis Media found that 90 percent of consumers aren’t likely to buy something they saw advertised during the Super Bowl. The reason? Brand metrics such as “favorability” or “recall” don’t result in purchases for products featured in Super Bowl ads.

Maybe that’s why Kraft Heinz is spent millions of dollars this year on a single spot that won’t sell one ounce of ketchup. The brand is running a $5 million ad to let us know that they’re giving all 42,000 of their salaried employees Super Bowl Monday off. (A company memo would have been about $4,997,900 cheaper.)

Is it corporate good will or a PR ploy? It doesn’t matter, because it’s generating millions in earned media, and it’s a great example of how brands are thinking differently about creative ideas, tactics and execution.

Are times changing?

It is also a sign of the changing times. For the last few years, the strategic execution of Super Bowl ads has changed from a one-time event on Super Bowl Sunday, to using an ad as a springboard to launch integrated digital and social media campaigns. Research from last year’s Super Bowl suggested that Super Bowl ads in 2016 generated as much as $10M in incremental exposure for advertisers.

Some brands go overboard on concept, like Mercedes-Benz, which last year relocated its N. American headquarters to Atlanta. The venerable luxury car brand hired The Coen Brothers to direct an “Easy Rider” themed Super Bowl spot featuring Peter Fonda. That’s easily an eight-figure budget for an ad that, if the studies are accurate, won’t sell many cars.

What about brand awareness?

So does that mean that Super Bowl ads are all about brand awareness? Not really. A full 75 percent of respondents from the Genesis Media study said they couldn’t remember ads from the previous year.

Advertising technology company Fluent surveyed 1,600 Super Bowl watchers in 2015 to test the effects of five first-time ads, finding that the average “brand lift” – whether viewers could recall advertisers after their first Super Bowl ad – was just 12.7 percent.

That’s not an ROI that many brands can readily justify, and the main reason why the Super Bowl will remain the ultimate arena for the advertising budget haves and have-nots.

The final verdict:

ROI, Product Sales – No

If you integrate the campaign as part of gripping 360 degree, well executed campaign using the super bowl as a spring board – Probably Yes.

Is it the best bang for your buck – I’d say, probably not.

This article was written in collaborate with Bill Coontz from the Dalton Agency. 

Bill brings large agency-management experience to the Dalton Agency.  Bill’s 25 years of advertising experience include work for many domestic and global brands, including United Healthcare, Optum, 3M, Cargill, General Mills, Kraft and Ameriprise. Bill has also served two terms as president of the Advertising and Marketing International Network (AMIN).

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