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Viral effects boost value of Super Bowl ads

This is an excerpt from Strategic Sport Communication by Paul M. Pedersen, Pamela S. Laucella, and Kimberly C. Miloch.

The Super Bowl is consistently one of the highest rated television programs, and some viewers watch the event exclusively for the ads. As a result, the value of Super Bowl ads has increased more than 6,000 percent from 1967 when NBC charged $37,500 for a 30-second spot.

Experts believe that the value of the Super Bowl ad is far greater than media research indicates and the ads might even "generate twice the marketing value from the buzz" (Mandese, 2005, p. 14). Viewers watch the ads for entertainment and as a subject for discussion rather than tuning them out or changing the station as in other shows (p. 14). The event is typically the highest rated program in the United States with 89 million viewers for the 2005 game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. For this reason, advertisers seek to maximize exposure by paying $2.5 million per spot.

The event lures advertisers because of increased viewer engagement. Viewers are much more likely to watch commercials during the Super Bowl than during regular programming. In fact, Starcom’s research indicated that 45 percent of Super Bowl viewers pay attention to advertisements compared to only 17 percent for regular programming. A Super Bowl ad’s reach is about three times more than that of a regular commercial, and around 10 million Americans watch the Super Bowl exclusively for the ads. Products that appear in ads also sell better and faster. Films advertised during the Super Bowl earned twice as much first-week revenue than those not appearing during the Super Bowl. Perhaps the main draw is the longevity of the ads. Consulting firm Penn Shoen & Berland discovered that 58 percent of polled respondents admitted that they discussed the ads more than the game the following day. The hype and interest in the game continue past game-day also (Atkinson, 2005; Baran, 2006; Bernstein, 2004a; Castleman & Podrazik, 2003; "DirecTV," 2004; Fisher, 2005b; Grover, 2005; Hilliard & Keith, 2005; Lafayette, 2005b; Mandese, 2005; Neff, 2005).

After the game, advertisements dominate conversations and media outlets. Advertisers offer copies of ads on Web sites, and the NFL Network and satellite channel rebroadcast them for fans. Market researcher InsightExpress found that 25 percent of viewers would access the Web to see some of the ads. TiVo also enables fans to record and replay ads if they want to see them again. Talk shows, newspapers, and magazines discuss and judge the winners and losers, interacting with fans and differentiating between creative strategies. This continued attention and exposure affect recall, as evident in studies. According to Don Bruzzone of Bruzzone Research Company, the top 20 percent of ads as far as recall possess eight times the impact a week later than the lowest rated 20 percent of ads. As a "showcase mainly for first-run ads," Cadillac uses the Super Bowl as a means for exposure. Cadillac has advertised since 1999, and since 2002, Cadillac has been the "official vehicle" of the Super Bowl and has "sponsored the MVP award" (Neff, 2005). It is the subsequent buzz that convinces corporations to buy as well as the "viral" marketing and other intangible benefits (Mandese, 2005; Neff, 2005).

Learn more about Strategic Sport Communication.

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