Super Bowl 2013, Advertising and Social Media

4th February 2013


You probably woke up in the UK this morning to find that the Super Bowl has had more than its fair share of media coverage…

Whether it was the power cut, Beyonce’s half-time performance or even, by some miracle, the fact that the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in a tight, dramatic encounter, media coverage surrounding this year’s Super Bowl confirmed the event’s status as one of the most talked-about contests in world sport.

What is particularly unique about the Super Bowl from a business perspective is the unrivalled impact that it has upon both brands and consumers. This ranges from the rather more trivial fact that an estimated 1.2 billion chicken wings would have been consumed in the US last night (handy for chicken farmers) to the bottom line that a 30 second Super Bowl ad costs in the region of $4million.

The big question doing the rounds in the business press over the weekend was all about the relative value of advertising at the Super Bowl. After all, huge brands like Pepsi and Subway clearly know their stuff, and they don’t hesitate to hand over their $3.8million for the opportunity to broadcast to a live audience of 111 million people. Is it money well spent?

The exponential growth of social media has meant that in recent years conventional wisdom has often been disregarded, even by the biggest brands. It is often said that the possibility of an advert going ‘viral’ (being shared by millions of people to an ever-increasing audience) far outweighs the value of a more traditional advert at premium events like the Super Bowl.

This article in the Harvard Business Review agrees, focussing on the hype surrounding Super Bowl Ads. Brands like Mercedes and Hyundai are so keen to ensure interest in their adverts that they pre-released ‘teaser trailers’ for their adverts…  The article emphasises the pitfalls of being drawn into an advertising war, causing brands to pursue increasingly outrageous, expensive or simply left-of-field tactics in an attempt to stand out from their competitors.

It also argues that it is only when an advert goes ‘viral’ that the brand really achieves any kind of value for money.

Suzanne Vranica’s piece in the Wall Street Journal emphasises a very different kind of business logic. In her words,

…buying a spot during the big game may be the most efficient media play on Madison Avenue.

This is due in part to the unparalleled audience that the Super Bowl leverages. Brands are also able to target their audience with particular focus; they know the time of day that the Ad will be shown, and can predict the age, nationality, political preferences, social strata and financial position that many of their viewers are in.

However, the biggest win for companies who advertise at the Super Bowl is the free media attention generated by the advert. This includes television, radio and print, but also new social media and blogs like this one. Mercedes estimate that they have received around $20million worth of free advertising as a direct result of producing a hotly-anticipated advert for the Super Bowl.

Whether you’re an established business or a fledgling start-up, it’s essential to have a clear marketing strategy for your brand. To find out more about VizionOnline’s brand development and marketing services, why not contact us today?