Super Bowl 50 commercials had a little bit of everything we’ve come to expect - humor, celebrities and babies. But whether you’re still having nightmares about PuppyMonkeyBaby or you’ve surrendered to the fact that you now know more about Opioid Induced Constipation than you should, there were definitely a few plot twists in the mix.
As an advertising agency, we sometimes have a different outlook on Super Bowl commercials than the average viewer. We’re aware of what goes on behind the scenes and the combination of art and science with which each brand is tasked. We want to shed a little bit of light on the facts behind it all.
Let’s get down to business. We all know that Super Bowl commercial prices continue to rise. This year was no different. In 2016, prices were up about 11 percent compared to last year according to AdWeek, with 30-second spots costing over $5 million. This year, that price tag covered both on-air and livestream commercials, whereas they previously had to be purchased separately. However, there’s no set price or one-size-fits-all approach to Super Bowl commercials. Different companies receive “discounts” if you will based on size, history and how many spots they plan to run.
When you wish for your commercial to air is another determining price factor. Placing your bet on one quarter is a strategy in and of itself. Typically, prices are higher in the first half because audiences are expected to be more engaged. Later on, viewers get antsy and have moved onto their third plate of chicken wings. And what if the unthinkable were to happen? A blowout game! No one will be glued to the TV in the instance of a runaway Lombardi trophy.
A brand puts in so much time, effort and money into crafting the perfect ad. Now the real question rears its ugly head - Do they work? Nielsen reported an average 49 percent viewer rating for the 2016 Super Bowl, which is just slightly off from the 49.7 percent (114.4 million viewers) of last year. It’s one of the only times where captive audiences are tuned in live to absorb all that the experience of the Super Bowl has to offer. While some reports show that only one out of five Super Bowl commercials cause consumers to purchase a product, Fortune reports an average 12.7% brand lift in viewer recognition after placing Super Bowl commercials. It really comes down to the message and what each brand wishes to achieve.
No longer is one 30-second spot all a brand has to offer. There’s still the social media game. So many brands are choosing to release teasers (and some full-length) commercials prior to the airing of the Super Bowl in hopes of achieving a viral sensation effect. Not to mention the spread of chatter amongst social media during and after the game itself. Sprinklr reported that there were over 960,000 social media posts about the Super Bowl across Twitter, Instagram and Youtube… by the end of the third quarter.
Some brands nowadays are choosing to forego a commercial spot altogether. Pizza Hut, for example, sparked interest when it promised to deliver 24K gold-encrusted pizzas to 50 homes on Super Bowl Sunday. Their online campaign and pre-game buzz comes at a bargain compared to the steep cost of a Super Bowl spot. With 85 percent of Super Bowl viewers tethered to their phones in addition to the big screen, Super Bowl advertising may be headed in a completely different direction altogether.
Perhaps the only ones celebrating more than Peyton Manning after the Broncos’ win last night were Budweiser and Papa John’s, who reminded us of the value in earned media. After receiving a congratulatory kiss from “Papa John” himself, Manning called out Budweiser by name not once, but twice in his post-game interview. When all's said and done, free media might be the best media after all.