When a 30-second commercial becomes integral to the game

The stakes will keep getting higher for brands investing in Super Bowl Sunday

By Scott Goodson, Special to Gulf News
07:35 February 2, 2018

If you guessed the Super Bowl, you’ve scored a touch down. While many Americans tune into the game itself — this year it’s on February 4 — a lot of people do so for the TV commercials. Yes, you read correctly, they tune in specifically to watch the commercials.

At a time when few if any admit to watching, let alone enjoying, TV commercials, this is a big deal. To the uninitiated, the Super Bowl will seem like an advertising extravaganza interrupted every so often by a little bit of football. The figures prove this out.

Officially, this uniquely American sporting event lasts 60 minutes, divided into four quarters of 15 minutes. And yet the Super Bowl will run over four hours of prime airtime, including a 30-minute half-time show featuring Justin Timberlake live. And my friend Leslie Odom, Jr., best known for his Tony Award-winning role in the Broadway smash “Hamilton”, will sing “America The Beautiful” at Super Bowl LII.

The rest is advertising and, with a television audience in the US expected to be over 110 million, the broadcast presents marketers with a unique opportunity to reach a massive amount of consumers in one shot. The going rate of a 30-second TV commercial on the Super Bowl is $5 million. For comparison, the average price of a 30-second ad during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was just over $500,000.

The price for a similar spot during the Academy Awards broadcast is about $2 million. The Super Bowl is a remarkable marketing platform. Viewership in the US is huge and puts it far beyond other media events. The second biggest event, the Oscars, had, by comparison, only 30 million viewers in 2017.

With such an extraordinary platform and the fact that the audience is tuning in to watch the ads more than the sport, brands invest big time in the quality of their message. Added to this are the high-cost of film production — it could up to $2 million to $10 million in production, depending on what you’re shooting and which celebs are in your commercial.

Some brands choose a funny message while others choose to run a powerful message that makes a major impact. In addition to advertising on the Super Bowl, the event generates enormous hype. People talk about the advertising before the game, during the game, after the game, and even the next day.

They share ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. The monthlong social media lead up to the Super Bowl, for example, is where consumers and fans discuss teams, the commercials and the upcoming event. Plus, the PR opportunities are enormous as the Super Bowl is covered by every newspaper and TV station.

Every participating brand is mentioned as well as the marketing leadership and creative agency behind the work. CEOs and CMOs become stars as brands compete for public attention and adoration.

In an age when relying on regular TV shows to pull viewers and consumers to a brand, platforming your brand at live events such as the Super Bowl, the Oscars, the final of “The Voice”, prove to be highly effective media strategies for brands that want to break through the wall of indifference while hanging out with other icons on a major platform under the spotlight.

Think about it, you can run a commercial once a week for 52 weeks and never be noticed or you can make just one with impact at a time when people are actively watching commercials and take your brand to new highs.

One reason brands choose to platform is because viewers can’t record a live event or watch it later, it’s happening live and they want to be a part of that. I have seen this first hand with brands that I personally have worked on such as Pampers on the Super Bowl, Heineken on Champion’s League, and Emirates, which all have chosen to sponsor sporting events and run marketing around sporting events.

It’s what smart brands do to build cachet and impact in the modern world. Even the launch of Dubai South was an example of a media event when we created one of the longest billboards in the world to launch the new brand.

The writer is the founder of the movement marketing firm StrawberryFrog based in New York.