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Super Bowl Ads: Are They Still Worth It?

When Spending $3 Million in 30 Seconds is Actually a Good Idea

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Written by Guest Writer: John McKenzie

The term “Super Bowl Sunday” isn’t just referring to the championship game of the National Football League. Super Bowl Sunday is also a critical day for advertising creative directors as their top commercials are on display for the largest TV audience of the year.

The Super Bowl is a unique event in that people who aren’t even remotely fans of the game, let alone the two teams playing, want to watch JUST to see the commercials. In some years, during boring blowout games, the ads were the ONLY thing to talk about the next day! But, have you ever had a friend say: “Boy I can’t wait to watch ‘Desperate Housewives’ tonight. I hate the show, but I really want to see the commercials.”? I sure hope not, for your sake.

When I sold TV, whenever we ran up against other media (specifically radio) the one factor we could always parlay into the conversation was “have you ever listened to a radio show just for the commercials?” or “have you ever discussed a funny or interesting radio commercial with your co-workers/friends/family?” The answer was nearly unanimously “no”. But Super Bowl commercials become “water cooler talk.” There are blogs and websites that pop up right after the game that allow you to stream and discuss your favorite or least favorite spots. I looked at a site yesterday that had the top ads from the last thirteen Super Bowls available for streaming. I’m sure YouTube has them going all the way back to the 70s!!

danica patrick hot godaddy lady super bowl adThere are a lot of marketing analysts that ask: “is this all worth it?” because Super Bowl spots come at a very high price. Spots sold a couple of years ago, before the recession, at over $3 million for 30 seconds. If your name isn’t Anheuser-Busch or FedEx or Coca-Cola, that $3 million had better work! For the most part, it does. Just ask GoDaddy.com how many page views they get on the Monday after Super Bowl, whether or not their commercial ACTUALLY airs in the game. Ask Denny’s how many free Grand Slam Breakfasts they’ve given away over the past couple of years.

Even more famous cases for Super Bowl advertising success: Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Monster was barely relevant until they ran their first Super Bowl ad in 1999. They were named “Best Television of 1999” by Time Magazine that year for their “What did you want to be” spot. CareerBuilder.com measured the success of their ads by how many visitors their site received on the Monday after the game. For years, CareerBuilder.com’s monkey ads were voted among the best Super Bowl ads. They always resulted in record visitors the day following the game. careerbuilder super bowl monkey adsThen a couple of years ago, their agency told them to change creative because the monkey ads were losing their effectiveness. The result was the lowest amount of visitors to CareerBuilder.com on a Monday following a Super Bowl. The agency was fired later that spring.

So, we face the annual Super Sunday ritual of beer, cola, overnight delivery, pizza, and other assorted product/service ads which hope to capitalize on the largest TV audience of the year. Some of you may DVR the game just to go back and watch your favorites… or the ones you missed while using the bathroom. But most of you will be talking about those ads on Monday. Probably more than the game itself, unless of course you’re a fan of one of the teams playing.

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Written by John McKenzie: I have 14 years of experience selling promotions, sponsorships, and advertising packages for local and network sports programming on network affiliates. I’ve sold the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup plus the BCS, golf, NASCAR and local high school sports. Doing sports marketing for TV stations combined two of my three biggest passions: TV and sports. I grew up in one of the greatest hot beds of sports: Boston. I was fortunate to see Bobby Orr, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Fred Lynn, Ray Bourque, and many others, play in person.

If you have employment opportunities that can capitalize on my skills and passion for sports business, please contact me

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