The New York Times reports that Fox is charging advertisers an estimated $2.8-3 million for every thirty seconds aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Pretty steep, sure, but there’s plenty of reason to believe the money is worth it. The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) found that last year 24.3 percent of viewers thought the commercials were more important than the actual game. So advertisers have a captive audience. But are they actually taking away and retaining any information from the ads?
University of Wisconsin marketing professor Rama Yelkur notes in this news release that “if you want to have a popular Super Bowl ad, don’t talk much about your products. We found the more advertisers talked about their products on Super Sunday, the less viewers liked the ads.” So what do viewers want? According to the study they want humor, animals, and children. Viewers want to see thirty-second mini-movies between football plays. They don’t want product information.
Even the funnier commercials that have people talking on Monday morning may not create the kind of buzz companies were hoping for when they forked over all that money. The real question is, are people talking about how funny the squirrel was in the commercial for…oh, what was it? Or are they talking about the product and the brand?
So it’s a rough trade off: either you tell people something about yourself and they tune out or don’t pay attention, or you just entertain them, but then they don’t learn anything about your product.
PepsiCo is one brand catching on to the idea there are more productive and efficient ways to get attention than dropping millions on Super Bowl ads. Instead of shelling out for a spot for last year’s big game, Pepsi invested in a monthly competition where people could submit project ideas and compete to win grants. “This was using brand dollars with the belief that when you use these brand dollars to have consumers share ideas to change the world, the consumers will win, the brand will win, and the community will win. That was a big bet. No one has done it on this scale before,” Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages of America, told the NYT. And Pepsi made a good bet. People turned to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to gain support in the competition, and spread the story themselves.
Keep an eye out this year. No doubt you’ll remember the commercials that made you laugh — the post game advertising scorecards will surely see to that. But can you remember which products, services, and brands corresponded to which ads?