Packers vs. Steelers? or Best Buy vs. Volskswagen? The Then and Now of Super Bowl Advertising

As per annum, this week the whole of America (and a large proportion of the rest of the world) will congregate and consume in front of the sporting calendar’s most anticipated contest; The Super Bowl.

In recent years, the NFL’s marquee event has emerged not only as a showcase for sporting excellence and intense competition, but rather as a platform for lucrative commercial advertisement opportunity.

Ever since Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcet’s promotion of Noxzema skin cream in Super Bowl VII, a large majority of the most familiar brands have delved into the merciless 30-second Super Bowl market. Most notably, Coca-Cola, MacDonalds, Budweiser and Snickers have all attempted to capture the attention of the audience within the consistently most-watched television broadcast of the year. Enormous demand for a limited pool of allotted advertisement space has result in the price of a 30-second Super Bowl spot escalating to an astonishing $3 million.

\”Let Noxcema Cream Your Face\” – Super Bowl VII

When executed effectively, Super Bowl campaigns can represent a landmark event in the conception of a commercial brand. Apple’s “1984” commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, not only gained accolades for the spot itself, but also generated unprecedented levels of free publicity for Apple through word-of-mouth and media attention.

\”1984 Apple Macintosh\” – Super Bowl XVIII

The artistic, innovative and nuanced methods incorporated in Super Bowl campaigns have often set the trend for the wider commercial landscape. At Super Bowl XLI, Dorito’s famous “Crash the Superbowl” crowdsourcing campaign received exceptional levels of recognition and popularity. The idea of outsourcing advertisement to YouTube or MySpace consumer competitions has since become an integral strategic asset to any commercial brand.

\”Dorito\’s Crash the Super Bowl\” – Super Bowl XLI

So, what can we expect from Super Bowl XLV this Sunday?

This year’s campaigns promise to involve the most digital, integrated and technologically sophisticated methods of all time. In addition to the 30-second spot, many companies have established synchronized Twitter or Facebook campaigns in the period leading up to the game. Kia’s “One Epic Ride” campaign has included print, television, social media and digital components and will culminate in a competition whereby five “fans” can win an all-new 2011 Kia Optima.

\”Kia One Epic Ride Teaser\” – Super Bowl XLV

New technologies have undoubtedly provided brands the opportunity to compile more interactive and inclusive marketing campaigns. As such, the Super Bowl campaign is no longer restricted to the 30-second advertisement segment; but rather, an incredibly complex and considered overlap of complementary marketing techniques.

On February 6th at 3:30PT Audi, Pepsi, Skechers and an array of other familiar brands will do battle against one another in pursuit of the highly coveted “Best Super Bowl Campaign” tag.

Who will come out on top? Let your pocket decide.

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3 Responses to Packers vs. Steelers? or Best Buy vs. Volskswagen? The Then and Now of Super Bowl Advertising

  1. bloomr says:

    Questions:

    Is it really worth it to spend $3 million on a 30-second advertising spot? Do the risks/costs outweigh the potential benefits?

    How should brands reassess their Super Bowl campaigns based on the changing demographic of Super Bowl audiences? (e.g. approx. 45% of the audience are now women)

    Based on trends to more integrated campaigns, are the benefits of Super Bowl advertising now reaped more through creating a social media buzz rather than actually purchasing the product?

    Which commercials on Sunday did you like/dislike?

    • menewell says:

      Before the big game kicks off here in a few hours I wanted to leave my thoughts relative to Richard’s questions:

      Questions:
      Is it really worth it to spend $3 million on a 30-second advertising spot? Do the risks/costs outweigh the potential benefits?

      Yes and no. Yes I think it is worth it to spend $3 million on a 30-second advertising spot and no the risks and costs don’t outweigh the potential benefits. Pulling from our class discussion had Song advertised during the Super Bowl, I think many more of us would have heard about them and increased name recognition is always a good thing. If you are a public company as well I bet it would be beneficial in your stock price, as it shows name recognition and financial ability to get an ad during the Super Bowl. Does anyone know of any stats/figures/reports that show the financial impact running a Super Bowl ad can have on an organization?

      How should brands reassess their Super Bowl campaigns based on the changing demographic of Super Bowl audiences? (e.g. approx. 45% of the audience are now women)

      Great question, great point, and very interesting stat. I think brands need to constantly reassess their Super Bowl campaign ads as demographics can constantly shift. With many Super Bowl ads in the works for months prior to the game itself do you think what two teams and who the halftime show is impacts the advertisers at all, because both of those variables impact who will be watching, right?

      Based on trends to more integrated campaigns, are the benefits of Super Bowl advertising now reaped more through creating a social media buzz rather than actually purchasing the product?

      Absolutely! This is one added reason why the Super Bowl ads will cost more and more because you are now no longer getting just the 30-second spot, but you are getting all of the social media buzz after and sometimes before the game as certain commercials receive a lot of hype heading in to the game. This in turn I think leads to purchasing the product because it keeps the product front of mind, so I think the two go hand in hand. Maybe that’s not right, but what do you think?

  2. Vukic says:

    Still watching the game, and still haven’t become a fan. Sorry. Love the commercials,though. Just saw the vw bettle commercial. Loved it. The Passat one was excellent too. Volkswagen has yet again done a great job with their commercials. Simple, funny,interesting, catchy, and much,much cheaper than the BMW and Mercedes ones that featured a whole array of celebrities. While watching those, you forget who is promoting whom. Whereas the VW commercials stay with you. They are easy to identify with, and VW proved yet again that it has been and remained people’s car (Volk- people, wagen-car). Simplicity wins yet again.
    As for the comments if 30 seconds are worth 3 million,I say yes. Considering the buzz generated in the social media before and during the game, and the buzz that will ensue, the money paid is worth it. More people are watching the SuperBowl game than have watched the Inauguration. The SuperBowl represents some of the quintessential American traits: glorification of human abilities,competition, team spirit, exuberance,consumerism. Commercials just feed into it. So give people what they want.