It happens every year... once we know who's playing in the Super Bowl the marketing and media industries turn their attention to the value of advertising on the big game. Of course, with a price tag of around $3 million per spot it's a natural topic to discuss... Is the Super Bowl a good value? It depends. But overall, if the situation is right, yes, putting an ad on the Super Bowl right now can be a wise buy. I had this thought last year but feel even more bullish on the 2010 game given the current of status of a few things...
To begin, here's something to ponder: If someone is steadfast 100% anti-Super Bowl advertising then it probably means they simply haven't paid enough attention to what's going on in media and sports right now.
First, it's important to remember that over half of all people who watch the Super Bowl report to enjoying the ads more than the game itself. I cannot imagine that statistic being true for any other televised event or show. So we have an engaged audience.
Second, this has been a fantastic year for televised sports, football in particular. Last week 58 million people watched the Saints/Vikings game making it the most watched conference championship in 30 years. Furthermore, an average of 19 million people watched Sunday Night Football every weekend this season while ESPN set cable viewership records for Monday Night Football. (Even 'Bama/Texas brought the BCS Championship the best ratings they've had in awhile.)
Thirdly, the Saints and the Colts are interesting... Yes, while it's true that Indianapolis and New Orleans are not huge media markets there is significant exposure surrounding Payton Manning and a legion of Saints fans (and city of New Orleans supporters) across the country. Not to mention the fact that both teams led their respective conferences all year so it's truly a game to see who's the best.
For these reasons and more the viewing numbers should be big. Perhaps the biggest ever. Will 2011 be the same?? Who knows. But for now, the big game is a good buy IF (and it's a big IF) the brand advertised fits into one of three situations:
1. It's a new product that many could find value in.
The key is "new." The advertiser is saying, "hello." After all, the history of Super Bowl-Advertising-As-Event started with Apple Computer launching Macintosh; something that was new and relevant to the mass audience. And when online job seeking was hatched as a category in '99, Monster used the game for the same reason... This year mobile pay-TV firm Flo TV, information provider KGB and rental service HomeAway.com are seeking return in this area.
2. It's a household name that has an important message to say.The key is "important." After the game, many of the commercials panned as lame may not have fully embraced the fact that the Super Bowl is--right or wrong--one of the biggest events of the year. If the core message isn't perceived as important enough to be worthy of that environment, there's a high risk the audience won't like it. This is a tough one to do well, but Master Lock in '74 and Budweiser in '02 come to mind.
3. A household name, who's a category leader, and wants to further establish their position, gain more market share, or expand the way we think about them.
I feel this is primarily reserved for products that show well when we're in our football-watching mindset. Products that are social, fun and enjoyable for many. Brands like Tabasco, McDonald's and Coke have executed well here... And, according to Brand Keys this is the area where ROI is most achievable.