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February 3, 2012
The Force of Super Bowl Ads
Here’s a crazy math formula.
Did you know the most popular Super Bowl commercial from 2011 spent a little over a penny to reach each consumer?
That’s right; the Volkswagen Mini Vader ad was watched by 160 million people and, assuming the car maker spent the average $2.5 million for the 30-second spot, their cost per view comes down to .015 cents. For Volkswagen or any company, those are remarkable numbers that make even Google Adsense look expensive.
That Volkswagen ad reached 111 million people from the Super Bowl alone, but when you add the 49.3 million people who watched it on YouTube, the total viewership jumps to 160 million viewers and keeps growing. Now that is the power of social media and a successful publicity campaign.
I converse with business owners all the time who try to convince me that an ad campaign is better than a public relations campaign. They cite statistics on how they know who sees their ad and I don’t argue with their statistics. I will tell them that a successful publicity campaign keeps working for you, long after the campaign is over, and this Darth Vader ad is proof. This article, reminding Talent Zoo readers about that commercial, is also lowering the cost for Volkswagen’s Super Bowl buy.
Of course, the social media galaxy stars were aligned for that Volkswagen commercial. Viewers liked it and forwarded it to their friends. USA Today did a write-up on the mystery boy, and the national morning TV programs all laughed about it.
Social media isn’t as easy in the galaxy we live in, but here is what we can learn from the publicity that surrounded that Volkswagen commercial. In short, your message must resonate with viewers and invoke emotion. Your commercial or story must have a plot that keeps viewers tuned in and it should be well produced, which means music, words, actors, storylines, and special effects must all work together to support the message and tease the viewer.
It sounds so easy, right? If it was that easy, why do we all tune out when commercials come on TV? It’s because they’re boring and blatant with their messages. I discussed this with friends while watching a football game during the playoffs.
"They don't produce creative commercials anymore," I said. “It’s like the creative brain trust has been diluted between all of the new mediums.”
But that won’t happen on Super Bowl Sunday. The best creative minds will be competing against each other for your attention. And then on Monday, the best publicists in the world start competing to remind you about those commercials. If they’re successful, you will know it as soon as you find yourself looking for that ad on YouTube.

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Mark Macias is the co-founder of BigBirdFans.com. He produces social media videos for all kinds of clients and consults on publicity campaigns. You can read more at www.MaciasPR.com.

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