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February 10, 2006

Super Bowl Ads Actually Work?!

I have to admit, I was one of the true Super Bowl advertising disbelievers. I just could not see the ROI of spending millions on a 30 second spot -- and that does not even include the costs of producing the ad. But, after this recent game, when the power of the Super Bowl commercial "afterlife" really came into its own, I am now starting to change my tune.

I don't know about you, but I never could understand the appeal of, even the addiction to, Super Bowl advertising. I saw it as a pure vanity marketing tactic, advocated mainly by agencies looking to promote their own brands, and clients looking for an ego boost.

However, the recent contest between Seattle and Pittsburgh got me thinking in a very different way about Super Bowl advertising, which we all know is becoming just as popular (and in some quarters, more popular) than the game itself. It's not that the ads that ran this year were even that good. With a few exceptions (the FedEx, Ameriquest and Hummer spots), they were pretty ho hum.

What has gotten me to reconsider my aversion to Super Bowl advertising, is the afterlife the better spots now enjoy on the web. This phenomenon was already starting to happen after the last few Super Bowls. This most recent telecast constitued, for me at least, a tipping point in this trend.

The fact is that a well conceived and executed Super Bowl ad can now have a significant extended life through company homepages, dedicated microsites, advertising sites (where people vote for the best spot), etc. The additional visibility and reach that these spots can receive is starting to make the Super Bowl ad investment look like an ROI winner. Smart companies are tapping into this phenomenon and creating all kinds of opportunities for consumers to make the spots even more viral through online promotions, downloads, surveys, sampling, etc. The big caveat is that the only ads that benefit from this positive afterlife trend are the good ones -- indeed, the really good ones. That just raises the bar for advertisers and their agencies to come up with spots that meet both the marketing test (does it build my brand and/or deliver a compelling sales message) and the entertainment test (is it funny, moving and/or memorable).

So, next time you day dream about spending several million bucks to have your brand appear on the Super Bowl telecast, you might actually be able to convince your CFO that it is a worthwhile investment.

Posted by Patrick at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)