Does Super Bowl Marketing Work?

Going Big with Michael Irvin and Samuel L Jackson

Should you Create Your Own Super Bowl Super Campaign?

In the US, there really isn’t anything bigger than the Super Bowl. It is one of the most celebrated days that isn’t actually a holiday. The Super Bowl has become one of the most entertaining events of the year, regardless if you actually like football or not.  For all the non-football lovers, there is always a show-stopping halftime show. Last year, the halftime literally stopped the game, as the power in the stadium went out as a result of the power that was used to light up Beyonce. The other aspect that keeps people entertained are the commercials.  The Super Bowl may be the one time during the year where people will actually tune in just to watch the commercials. In 2014, the average 30 second commercial went for 4 million dollars, and most of the big-time, national commercials are 60 seconds, running them anywhere from 7 to 10 million dollars for one commercial!!

Is it actually worth it?
Year after year, the key players keep coming back and spending the money so there has to be something to it, but where is the return on 4 million dollars? Over the past 5 Super Bowls, there has been an average of 105 million viewers, which in media terms works out to about $40 CPM (meaning that for every $40 spent that commercial is seen by 1,000 people). In marketing terms, that’s a pretty great rate to command such a large audience‘s attention.  But you have to make an impact…otherwise your dollars were wasted!

If all the “big boys” of advertising are there year after year, then there has to be something to it. Budweiser, Doritos, and Pepsi aren’t just spending the money to spend money!  If you are spending big money, then you have to make a BIG impact!!

 

Who has done it best?
When it comes to the companies who nail it, there are a few key things that everyone gets right. So what are the key elements that these advertisers always seem to get right? All the memorable ads include one or a few of the following elements:

1. Emotions – You have to create a memorable commercial; emotions are a great way to really connect with the audience.  You have to really tug on the heart strings to really make an emotional impact.

Notable Commercials:
Budweiser “Bow” in 2002 – The Budweiser Horses pay tribute to 911. I still get goose bumps when I see this commercial. It completely emotionally connected with viewers to make a big impact.
Ram Trucks “Farmer” 2013/ God Made a Farmer – This was one of those commercials that made people stop and think. When this commercial originally came on during the game, I remember the room being silent. That’s making an impact.

2. Humor –  Humor is always a great way to make people remember you, but you have to be careful to not be so funny that the brand message is lost and everyone remembers the commercial, but not who it was for.

Notable Commercials:
Snickers “Playing like Betty White” 2010 – This commercial launched a campaign that still runs today with different celebrities. Watching Betty White get tackled is funny and was something different than what had been done before.
E-Trade “A Baby Can Do it” – E-Trade wanted people to know that it’s really easy to trade online using their services, so they have a talking baby show you how easy it is.  Now they have a series of commercials with the baby that have lead to a 6 year story….all of which are really funny.

3. Sex Appeal – At the end of the day, sex sells. Again,  this is an area to be careful in to not lose the brand message by too much sex appeal.

Notable Commercials:
Pepsi “New Can” 1991 – With Cindy Crawford in ‘91, this commercial defines sex appeal. As a result, it  makes a memorable commercial.
Hardee’s “Cod Fish Sandwich” 2013 – In typical Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. style, it is oozing with sex appeal, so much so that when looking for it on YouTube a warning comes up before the commercial will play. Love it or hate it, it gets people’s attention!!

4. Star Power – A celebrity spokesperson that people look up to or identify with is another great way to stand out from the rest of the commercials. This tactic also gives you a lot of brand credibility as you have a big-time celebrity associated with your brand.

Notable Commercial:
McDonald’s “The Showdown” 1993 - In ‘93 it didn’t get much bigger than Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. They are still extremely well-known celebrities.  When you have that star power behind your commercial, it always gives you that extra edge. I’m not too sure  about Jordan’s wardrobe but still a great commercial.

5. Memorable – Leaving a lasting impact is what makes your brand stand out, not just for the day but for decades to come.  You have to be willing to be uncomfortable and push the boundaries to come up with something that will leave a lasting impact.

Notable Commercial:
Apple “1984” – This is perhaps the most memorable Super Bowl commercial of all time.  It was different, attention getting, and made a huge impact. Not to mention the commercial was advertising a computer that wasn’t even finished yet.  Apple has always been one of those out-of-the-box, innovative companies. They knew if they were going to spend the money on the commercial, then they had to hit a home run!!  30 years later this commercial is still at the top of Best Super Bowl Commercials of all time!!  It’s proving that Apple has always been ahead of its time and showcasing the visionary genius of Steve Jobs.

What’s the ROI?
When it comes to Super Bowl advertising, you are going for reach, not frequency.You are going to be seen by more people than any other form of advertising, but only once so it has to memorable.  Now it’s a little easier for advertisers to see the ROI they are looking for as the best commercials go viral and are shared all over the internet, increasing the amount of times that commercial is seen. One of the most memorable commercial from 2014 is Bud Light with “Ian Up For Whatever” which Bud Light leaked the extended version online on the Thursday before the Super Bowl. The commercial had 7.5 millions views before the game even started.  When they released this online, they included interactive components to engage the viewer.

When an advertiser is going to pay for a commercial in the Super Bowl, it’s not about measuring a direct response to the commercial. Bud Light, Snickers , and Doritos don’t expect that there will be an additional 4 million dollars in sales the next day. These type of ads are increasing brand awareness, and ideally the brand instancy when someone is shopping  The ROI of these ads are not measured overnight, but over the next few months by the overall market share. The biggest mistake are the ads where you remember the entire commercial, but can’t remember what it was for…those are the ones who miss the mark.

Creating Your Own Super Bowl Campaign
Be memorable! Make sure your message is memorable, but also make sure your brand is just as memorable.  If someone is talking about the commercial the next day, you made an impact…but if they don’t remember the name of the company or brand,  you missed the mark. You should either play to emotions, be funny, be over the top, or have a celebrity endorsement. While sex appeal is a winner in Super Bowl commercials, I don’t recommend it across the board for most businesses. If you can’t hire a celebrity spokesperson, then you can use images of yourself and a well-known celebrity or endorsement videos. If you have attended a Mega Partnering,  you already have these things to start leveraging to build your brand…what are you waiting for?

Who knows… at Mega Partnering Africa 2 I may just ask “Woz” what he thought of Apple’s “1984” commercial.

 

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