Super Bowl ads can be just as exciting as the game itself. There tons of people who normally don’t watch football, but tune in to the Super Bowl just for the ads! Whether you’re an avid football fan or all about the ads, we’re here to expose the truth behind Super Bowl ads.
You said how much?
Normal commercial ads run about $1,500-5,000 depending on the TV station and time of day. This is just for 30 seconds on the air. So how much different is the cost during the big game? Advertisers spend an average of $5 million to secure a 30 second spot during the game. They’re also putting themselves at risk, because running bad or seemingly political ad during the Super Bowl can have vast PR consequences.
Think back to the last Super Bowl ad you remember. What was it promoting? It’s likely you don’t remember, and that’s exactly what the company was planning to do. The Super Bowl isn’t the time to promote something new, it’s about showcasing their brand to the world.
Many advertisers use comedy, emotional appeal, or storytelling to forge a personal connection between their brand and the audience. They don’t necessarily want you to remember the product or service being advertised, rather how you felt while viewing the commercial, and the company who created it.
One memorable Super Bowl ad in recent history was Mountain Dew’s “Puppy Monkey Baby.” It aired in 2016, and used comedy and repetitiveness to gain viral status (view it here). When you watch the commercial and try to recall the product, you have a hard time remembering. Why? It’s because of the repetitiveness off the “Puppy Monkey Baby” jingle. So, instead of remembering Mountain Dew’s Kickstart commercial, you remember it as Mountain Dew’s Puppy Monkey Baby commercial. If you thought it was funny, you now associate Mountain Dew with something humorous, and have forged a positive mental association with the brand.
This ad is also an excellent example of how Super Bowl commercials can be a risky investment. Running an ad that relies on humor is inherently risky, as the type of humor used may only appeal to a niche market. Scheduling one during the Super Bowl has the potential to turn into a PR blunder, as viewers who “don’t get it” may complain online.
So why invest?
The idea of running a one-time, $5 million ad seems ridiculous! But obviously, it must have its perks. The Super Bowl is essentially the only time that a significant number of people actively watch advertisements. Most of the time, it is hard for advertisers to measure the reach of their ads, because it’s essentially impossible to determine how many people will leave the room, put the TV on mute, or simply not pay attention during commercial breaks. There is significant data that indicates ads at the beginning and the end of breaks are the most viewed, however advertisers cannot pay more for these spots– commercial ordering is completely random.
For many large companies, it’s considered a huge risk not to run an ad during the Super Bowl. For instance, Coke will always run ads during the Super Bowl, because they know Pepsi will always run ads during the Super Bowl. If they don’t run an ad, that huge market will have a recent emotional connection to Pepsi, and Coke will see a drop in sales. This sales drop won’t come from loyal Coke fans switching to Pepsi, but from people who don’t regularly drink either beverage, or don’t have a strong preference. These consumers’ choices are more subconsciously influenced by ads, and for companies as large as Coke, their infrequent purchases really add up.
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