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Super Bowl Advertising Sells Out. Now What?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The United States is picking itself off the ground after being knocked down through this great recession. The financial markets are volatile, the political system is in total disarray, and corporate America's "job creators" are in hiding. But we know one thing for sure: where there's football, there's advertising. And according to the New York Times' NFL blog, The Fifth Down, NBC sold all of its 30-second ad spots by Thanksgiving.

Each spot sold for an average of $3.5 million, up from $3 million last year. The blog notes that with the 70 spots during the game, minus agency commission, the network will rake in about $208 million dollars. Then adding the six commercials during halftime, and programming during the pregame and postgame, NBC will be making serious bank on February 5th.

What are we to expect from the ads? No doubt the auto industry will go crazy. Sprinkle in a couple of snack commercials, and we'll see the first Pepsi ad back in the limelight since last year's hiatus. The Pepsi ad will be interesting; as big as Pepsi's marketing budget is, they have been quiet in terms of its national advertising. Also, and we are not sure about the validity of this rumor, but there is a buzz saying that activist Randall Terry was looking to show a graphic abortion ad during the Super Bowl. We haven't heard if Terry succeeded in raising the funds or not, but there's some controversy to look for.

The advertising is so expensive, of course, due to the audience the Super Bowl attracts. If NBC plans to stream the Super Bowl like it did two years ago, the audience size will be tremendous — the biggest captive audience of the year (in a non-World Cup year, obviously). But what will advertisers do (and what will agencies direct their clients to) with such an audience? With the majority of them U.S. consumers, many of them aren't exactly in a place to go out after the game and buy things. According to the Consumerist, Reuters reported that consumer spending grew a meager .2%, the slowest since the Second World War. 

So we convinced a brand to spend $3.5 million on a 30-second ad to get in front of a market that is not spending. What message do you tell them to send? 

Awareness is a good place to start — let the people know that your brand is 1) still around and 2) able to fit into a budget. Then give them a way that they can find you to find out how. Because of all the advertising, the call to action is going to be key, so providing a step for them to take will help your brand be remembered. Or you can go the promotion route by offering them discounts and bargains — other deals that can help incentivize shoppers.

Creating a story is important, and when you're in front of millions of people for only a short period of time, you must create one that is going to stick.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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