In Advertising, Marketing, Social Media


After social media has turned to its next topic and Monday morning watercooler talk moves onto the upcoming day, do brands really get a boost from their Super Bowl ads?

The Super Bowl brings together a diverse audience like no other sporting event – which explains the $5 million price tag for a 30-second commercial. Other events, such as a golf tournament, have a smaller, more focused audience, resulting in a less-diverse group of advertisers (e.g., luxury cars, golf equipment, wealth-management ads).

Although the audience is broad, most viewers look at the ads to be another element of entertainment. The broad audience is a hard one for advertisers to incorporate any type of focused strategy. If a product can’t incorporate cute animals and humor, it doesn’t resonate well with the audience.

Looking at this year’s USA TODAY Ad Meter, three of the bottom five rated ads were for medicines. While the top five ads all incorporated humor and/or animals, it is hard to make bowel-related ads fun. So viewers, who are often in a party setting, tune these out or take to social media to poke fun.

The Super Bowl also isn’t a place to launch new brands. For example, young dotcoms have often struggled in this space. In 2000, 14 dotcoms had commercials during Super Bowl XXXIV. Only four remain in business today. This year, brands like SoFi, and MobileStrike all scored in the bottom 10 of the Ad Meter.  With 60 spots spread over four hours, it is hard establishing a brand.

In fact, the brands that usually resonate most with viewers are established ones. This year’s top ad according to Ad Meter was Hyundai’s Kevin Hart ad. Past winners have been Bud Light, Budweiser, Doritos, McDonalds, Nike, Pepsi, Snickers – recognizable brands that also are familiar sponsors of sporting events.

The better strategy may be the one New Castle beer took in 2014, when they made the “anti-Super Bowl ad” with actress Anna Kendrick. The ad, which was available strictly online, generated over 600 media stories and 10 million views – at a fraction of a Super Bowl ad price.

If a brand is looking to the Super Bowl to spike sales, it is also the wrong strategy. According to a 2015 study by Genesis Media, 75% of those surveyed said they didn’t remember many ads from the previous Super Bowl while 90% said they weren’t likely to purchase something they saw in the Super Bowl.

So even though the Mountain Dew Kickstart “Puppymonkeybaby” ad generated the most online activity according to (3.4 million online views and 206,000 social interactions by the end of Super Bowl 50), the expectation would not be that millions will be running to their local grocer to buy the drink today.

Yes, there is the prestige of being part of Super Bowl Sunday. However, it is key for marketers to not get star struck and lose sight of their brands’ goals and strategies simply to be on the big stage.

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