Digital Sales & Marketing Advisor, 10+ Years of Sales Strategy and Account Management
February 5th, 2020
It’s that time of year again.
You know, when the faint smell of chicken wings, Budweiser, and buffalo dip permeate offices across this great nation.
Ah yes, the Super Bowl aftermath.
If you don’t like football or your favorite team didn’t mean the cut, millions of viewers still tuned in to the big game for two reasons: the halftime show and of course, 30-second commercials.
While on the topic of the halftime show, can I get an amen for Shakira and J-Lo ? Shout out to 40+ year old mothers absolutely dominating their choreography and proving to mothers like me that rock hard abs post-child are possible!
Back to the topic of conversation: Super Bowl ads.
One thing is for sure, Super Bowl ads are some of the most entertaining and iconic commercials of the year.
But every February I wonder — is the prime time TV spot worth the massive price tag?
According to Digiday, “companies are shelling out on average $5.2 million to $5.6 million apiece to air a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl.”
This of course is just the cost of advertising. Let’s not forget the cost of creative, production, talent, etc.
Coming from a content-first background in inbound marketing that is easily trackable with tools like HubSpot, I’m curious, do B2C organizations ever truly reap a return on their investment? Or is the commercial hype all around sparking brand awareness and online buzz?
Let’s talk numbers
Yesterday I debated with a coworker why a company would spend $5.6M on one ad.
I couldn’t fathom how organizations could justify the cost.
I’m a numbers gal. I’m not a gambler. So dropping what could be the equivalent of an SMB's entire annual revenue on one ad seems frivolous to me.
That’s when my coworker Nick reminded me of something interesting that swayed my perspective: “After watching last night’s game, Just imagine how many people are going to go out and buy Planters this week simply because they think that Baby Nut is the cutest thing they’ve ever seen.”
Have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out Planter’s 2020 ad on the rebirth of their famed icon here - now dubbed Baby Nut.
To Nick’s point, think about how many viewers are actually engaged during the Super Bowl.
While the numbers aren’t just in for this Sunday’s game, last year’s 2019 Super Bowl brought in an estimated 98.9 million viewers.
With live viewing aside, it’s important to remember the pre-game hype.
Many commercials (or back stories to game day commercials) are actually viewed online before, during, and then after the big game.
For instance, take the Planters back story ad.
Last week they aired news that their mascot Mr. Planter “died” just days before they revealed their Sunday commercial revealing their new brand logo: Baby Nut.
Suffice to say, Super Bowl ads have become viral sensations even before game day.
“What does home mean to me?” Momoa says. “It’s my sanctuary,” the one place on earth where he can truly be himself.
But the real Jason Momoa, according to the ad’s reveal, is a balding weakling who wears a wig, fake muscles, and a removable torso out in public.
“Home is where you feel the most comfortable. And Rocket Mortgage helps you feel comfortable financing that home,” says a narrator.
Talk about an odd ad.
While it certainly tickled my funny bone, the ad left me feeling unsure if I would ever do business with a company that didn’t take itself seriously. Especially one where my home financials depended on it
This is the danger of being quirky — people remember the ad — but not the company involved.
Tell a narrative about the brand
For me, this is usually an emotional play. When I think about companies that have done it best, Budweiser tends to stick out in my mind.
Every year, I wait to see their ad. It usually ties back to their brand and being all-American. They never really boast about product, but rather tell an impactful story.
This year Google told the narrative.
Google’s “remember Loretta ad” grabbed viewers' attention with a nostalgic trip down lover's lane.
I am a sucker for ads that tear at my heartstrings, so when Google used a real story of one of their employee’s grandfather who used Google to preserve the memories of his late wife, I was entranced.
Not only had I never thought to use Google for what they were suggesting, but it did highlight to viewers how technology can enhance the way we remember those who meant a lot to us.
Talk about a double whammy.
I mean it’s none of my business if you want to blow $10M all in on a single ad — that’s your call.
Commercials are a tough thing to measure. Do they actually win you back business? Hard to say.
But there are some ads that stand the test of time and that will be talked about around water coolers for months to come. There are some ads that get shared and re-shared on social media. There are some companies whose ads are anticipated each year.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s worth more than whatever princely sum that company paid to FOX, an agency, and a production team to bring its message to the world.
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