Super Bowl ad buzz: U-M experts available

January 30, 2015


Super Bowl Sunday has become synonymous with excess, a fact evident in the advertising bacchanalia that sometimes rivals the game in publicity and buzz.

This year, NBC is charging advertisers a reported $4.5 million for 30 seconds, even as there are more digital marketing options and stronger competition for eyeballs than ever before. We asked faculty from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business whether the Super Bowl is still a good bet, given the cost.

Tim O’Day, adjunct lecturer of marketing and executive director of the Yaffe Center for Persuasive Communication, said the value of the ads depend on the goals of the brand.

“Keep in mind the Super Bowl is still the place where you can reach 112 million customers at one time, have an excellent chance to have your ad watched, talked about and shared on social media, and have a chance to impact not only tracking and awareness studies but also searches, website visits, blogs, Tweets, Pinterest and Facebook posts,” he said.

“If you are a brand that really needs awareness—an increasingly slippery and difficult goal in a complicated, multitasking, TV-avoiding, mobile environment—then it might be right for you. If, on the other hand, you have a narrow target customer, other goals are more critical than awareness, are looking for short-term, provable return on investment, and can’t afford to spend $4.5 million for one exposure, then pass.”

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Puneet Manchanda, the Isadore and Leon Winkelman Professor of Marketing and chair of marketing, said Super Bowl advertising works best when a company has something noteworthy to convey to consumers such as a new product or direction for the brand.

“Advertising during the Super Bowl seems very old-fashioned in the age of social and mobile media, especially given the high cost,” he said. “But if done well, it can be very effective for two reasons: One, there’s a massive and engaged audience. Two, we now have a ‘Super Bowl of Advertising’ along with the game.

“This second ‘Super Bowl’ is covered extensively by the media pre- and post-event, leading to massive amplification of the ad campaign. However, the way Super Bowl advertising needs to be approached today has to be based on strong content and reflect the current media consumption landscape.”

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John Branch, lecturer of marketing and strategy, said we should think about looking at Super Bowl advertising another way.

“It is not possible to identify whether or not Super Bowl advertisements in general are still effective or if other promotional methods are better. It really comes down to measuring the effectiveness of each individual advertisement,” he said. “And this means knowing the promotional objectives of an advertisement prior to its airing and performing the appropriate marketing metrics following the airing.

“For example, if a new tech startup wanted to get X number of eyeballs to see its brand, then on a per-eyeball basis maybe $4.5 million does not sound too bad. Of course, you need to follow up with how many of the 100 million actually saw the ad and remember the brand.”

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