Pitching ads for the Super Bowl
03 April 2012
The Super Bowl is the US's biggest annual betting extravaganza, with an estimated $1bn wagered on the championship game of professional American football, writes Jon Swallen
Within the advertising industry, the most daring high rollers of the 2012 game (held on February 5) were the 34 companies betting, at the rate of $3.5m per 30 seconds of airtime, that they could present effective selling messages to a TV audience of more than 100 million viewers.
In recent years, a growing proportion of advertisers have leveraged their bets even further by purchasing more than 30 seconds through longer message lengths and/or multiple units.
Super Bowl advertising traces a financial orbit unlike any other. The $3.5m average price tag for the 2012 game marks a 47% increase against five years ago. By comparison, total TV adspend has grown just 3%. The NBC television network reaped more than $250m of ad revenue for its three hours, 30-minutes broadcast of the game this year, plus millions more from five hours of pre- and post-game coverage.
Automotive advertisers are particularly keen to buy a seat to the Super Bowl feast with 12 different auto brands – an all-time record – airing a total 16 spots in the 2012 game. Nor is competitive clutter limited to the auto category. Hollywood studios have also embraced the event to promote films. Typically, anywhere from six to 10 titles are featured in the game (seven this year).
Historically, Super Bowl advertisers try to build anticipation by publicising their involvement but then waiting until the game proper to reveal their commercials. However, that approach has been altered by internet video and social media and an increasing number of Super Bowl sponsors are using their corporate websites, Facebook brand pages and YouTube to release their ads as early as two weeks before the game.
The goal is to stimulate sharing and discussion over a longer period that culminates with the game in the hope of achieving greater impact. Auto advertisers, seeking to stand out from their crowd, have been at the forefront of this growing trend.
The next Super Bowl will be played 3 February 2013 in New Orleans. Planning for the new cycle of advertising bets is already underway.
Jon Swallen is senior vice-president of research at Kantar Media Intelligence