Super Bowl Arguments

Yes, sports fans it’s Super Bowl time again!  The time of year when fierce arguments break out.  Not about which team will win, but whether advertising during the Super Bowl is worth the $4 million (give or take a few hundred grand) for the airtime, plus the production expenses.  As with most things in life and marketing, the answer is a firm “it depends”.

First, it depends on who you are targeting for your product or service.  If your product is a candy bar, where just about everyone is a potential customer, advertising during the Super Bowl may be worth the cost because more than 110 million people in the U.S. will watch the Super Bowl this year.  Car companies have traditionally been big Super Bowl advertisers because the game is viewed by key car buying demographics.

The size of your overall marketing budget is the second factor.  If you are Geico and spend $1 billion or so on advertising every year, $4 million is a drop in the bucket.  But if you have a mere-mortal budget in the low 8 figures, spending 10 or 20 percent of your yearly budget on 30 seconds may not be worth it.  What happens if the game is a blow out and your ad runs late in the fourth quarter?  Will anyone see it?  Fortunately, the games have been pretty close the last few years, but it is a gamble.

Then there was the height of the dot.com explosion when unknown internet companies bet the house on 30 seconds of fame during the Super Bowl, only to be out of business in a few months.  I guess the thinking was they were either going to make it with a big splash or they would be out of business in a few years anyway.  Better to go out in a blaze of glory rather than slowly bleeding to death.  A Business Insider article I just read claimed 19 internet start-ups advertised during the 2000 Super Bowl.  Only one – E-Trade – is still in business.  Remember epidemic.com, ourbeginning.com and lifeminders.com?  Neither did I until I read the article.

The third consideration is leveraging your ad in other media.  Go Daddy did this pretty effectively with a longer ad on their web site and using social media.  But a lot of that has been done and overdone.  The more recent ploy is “leaking” the ads the week before the big game.  I don’t like this approach because it eliminates the suspense of seeing the commercial for the first time with others and it lessens my interest in the game, especially when I don’t like or dislike either team, as is the case this year.   Of course, there is always extra value in Super Bowl ads because the good, the bad and the ugly get replayed and dissected in the following weeks.   You just hope your ad is in the “good” category.

I have never had a large enough ad budget or target market to even consider advertising during the Super Bowl.  Wish I did.  It is probably an experience all marketers wish they had at least once in their lives.  So to all those who are “in the game”, good luck!

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