Between bites of chip and dip, people will be glued to their sets for this weekend’s big game. Why is the Super Bowl so important to marketers that they’re willing to spend $4 million per :30 second ad?  Is it because there are 110 million viewers? Partially.  Is it because there are NO other alternatives all year to have this degree of media concentration?

The main reason marketers advertise on the Super Bowl is you reach 110 million engaged viewers. They’re not ignoring these brand messages. They are willingly looking at ads and evaluating them at parties, at sports bars or in social media polls—real time.  Many viewers, many of whom are women, ONLY watch the game for the ads.  Local news broadcasts air segments that discuss the best or most memorable ads.  In effect, it is the People’s Choice Awards for Marketers because the consumers vote!

Is this good?

Absolutely! It requires marketers not only to tell their brand story but they must also convey the brand experience. And, while not perfect, marketers are rising to the challenge with gusto.  Like Super Bowl Media week, marketers have expanded their game day ad presence with a blitz of marketing activity leading up to the ad debut. They’ve developed teasers spots, social media campaigns leading up to the game and once their ad airs, smart marketers take advantage of situational circumstances to engage consumer real time.  Last year, Oreo’s was masterful in tweeting “You can still dunk Oreo’s in the dark” during the infamous Super Bowl XLVII blackout. Within 24-hours the ad had over 20,000 Facebook likes and had been retweeted over 15,000 times, not to mention the trade and consumer press they received.  Not Justin Bieber numbers, but a huge success for marketers.

What it Takes to Win in 2014

When USA Today debuted its Ad Meter rating system during the 1989 Super Bowl, the world was simpler. Today, with brands living in a 24/7 world, the stakes have risen for marketers.  Marketers have to develop stronger brand strategies and deliver upon them in more and more creative ways. They not only have to understand their target, they have to understand themselves…and be true to what makes them different and unique, to convey the brand’s personality in an authentic way.  Doritos does this by inviting consumers, the actual fans who will be eating bags of Doritos on game day, to develop ads to express the brand “in their eyes”.  These ads have been Super Bowl fan favorites for the last 7 years because they convey the passion of how much consumers love their Doritos and the lengths to which they will go to have one more crunchy bite. It’s no accident Doritos is America’s #1 snack chip.

Marketers Have a Huge Opportunity

Marketers have been criticized for making ads too entertaining or too shocking and losing sight of the brand message. Ads are too involved in the story set up and leave the last 3-4 seconds for the brand reveal.  And sometimes, long time Super Bowl advertisers like Pepsi and Budweiser, fall a bit flat from a previous successful campaign.

Now, more than ever before, marketers are making stronger and more authentic brand statements that get Super Bowl viewers to stop, think and engage. Remember last year’s powerful 2 minute Chrysler ad about the resilience of the American Farmer. That stopped Super Bowl parties in their tracks…as did the infamous “Daughters” commercial, part of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty” that ran during the 2006 Super Bowl.  Last year, brands that stayed with us were Soda Stream blowing up Coke and Pepsi trucks (and they raise the stakes in 2014) and the Budweiser Clydesdale spot that had the Clydesdale running back from the parade to his trainer.  The best ads engage the viewer. They balance what makes the brand different with an emotional connection that invites you to laugh, cry or join in the movement.

This is why consumers still enjoy watching ads. The good ones tell a compelling story that moves us to act. And while some studies suggest that Super Bowl Ads don’t deliver an ROI, there’s no better platform than the Super Bowl to view a marketer’s best efforts. So yes, it’s worth $4 million for :30 seconds…but only if you use the other marketing tools in your toolbox – social media, teasers, etc. – to leverage your media investment.

A Few Picks

For those who will be tracking the commercials on their scorecards, be on the lookout for the Budweiser Puppy spot, the Jaguar spot, the Cheerios commercial and a different take on Axe body spray.  We look forward to hearing from you regarding your favorite Super Bowl ads from the big game!

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