NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)
The escalating chatter surrounding Super Bowl XLIV is not just about the teams competing for the 2010 championship. The TV commercials that will appear during the game are also the subject of discussion and speculation. And participating advertisers will once again be confronted with the difficult question of whether the Super Bowl is a smart marketing investment or a wasted use of the budget.
TNS Media Intelligence has again combed through its extensive database to report on the past 20 years of Super Bowl advertising. From 1990 thru 2009, the Super Bowl game has generated $2.17 billion of network sales from a total of 210 different advertisers and more than 1,400 commercial messages.
“The Super Bowl remains a singular event for engaging the broadest number of consumers at one time,” said Mark Nesbitt, President, TNS Media Intelligence. “Because it is viewed live and experienced by a majority of the country at the same time, a commercial presence on the broadcast has great significance and impact for a brand, making each not so much a brand message as a brand event. It is why a presence on the broadcast lends itself so effectively to an integrated marketing effort.”
“As an advertising event, the Super Bowl has evolved beyond a vehicle for presenting expensive, stand-alone commercial spots that seek to entertain viewers and generate awareness,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research for TNS Media Intelligence. “Increasingly, in-game spots are being supplemented by elaborate integrated communications programs that attempt to drive traffic online or in-store, generate positive social media discussion, incorporate public relations effort and ultimately achieve a strong ROI.”
The 1973 Super Bowl has become a frequent point of reference this year because Super Bowl VII, played Jan. 14 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, was the game in which the Miami Dolphins became the first team in modern pro football history to finish a season undefeated.
Their 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins, despite placekicker Garo Yepremian throwing the worst pass in Super Bowl History, gave them a 17-0 record – the record being challenged Sunday by the New England Patriots, who would with a victory over the Giants finish 19-0.
But the 1973 Super Bowl also marked another historic milestone: the commercial that many feel planted the seed for what Super Bowl ads have become today.
If you look at the Super Bowl advertisement hype, which seems to triple each year, it almost makes the 30-second spots seem worth the 40 bajillion dollars that companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi will be paying for them in 2008.
And with so many iconic moments in the past 3 1/2 decades, it’s becoming more socially acceptable to admit you prefer the commercials to the game – especially the 52-10 blowout between the New England Patriots and New York Giants that we’re about to watch on Sunday afternoon. Have we reached the point where popular culture has become part of American history? And if so, should Super Bowl ads be taught in every classroom?
When it comes to Super Bowl advertisements, sleaze sells. This Sunday will likely feature sexual innuendos, bodily functions, crotch injuries, erectile dysfunction talk and various combinations of the four.
Tawdry commercials have been around from the beginning — the first memorable Super Bowl ad featured Farrah Fawcett making love to Joe Namath’s face with Noxzema shaving cream — but the risk-taking definitely increased beginning in the mid-1990s. The sleaziest Super Bowl by far was in 2004, which was also the year that Janet Jackson’s right breast made an unfortunate halftime appearance.
On Sunday, National Basketball Association All-Star guard Dwyane Wade will try to lure Super Bowl viewers into becoming T-Mobile cellphone subscribers.
The ad extends a current series in which Wade tries to get into the “MyFaves” list of former NBA star Charles Barkley. With the “MyFaves” service, T-Mobile subscribers can select five favorite contacts — T-Mobile subscribers or not — and get unlimited calling to them.
Wade says he’s “pumped” to be on the world’s largest advertising stage: “Everyone knows that it’s one of the biggest days to be on TV.”
Strong economic times can result in a bounty of good Super Bowl ads. Janet Jackson’s exposed breast is a Super Bowl commercial killer. And venture capitalist money equals offbeat and funny — at least when it comes to the memorable dot-com advertisements of the late 1990s and 2000.
That was arguably the best era for Super Bowl ads, but there were other boom times as well — which, coincidence or not, often seem to come when confidence in the economy is rising. The landmark Apple “1984” commercial highlighted one of the best Super Bowls for ad-watchers, and the Reaganomics-fueled years that followed were stocked with plenty of clever spots as well.
Super Bowl viewers will be on the lookout for rookie mistakes — and not just on the field.
Advertising at the big game is a gamble for newcomers not just because of the rising cost of buying the ads — advertisers are paying up to $2.7 million for a 30-second spot this year, up from $2.6 million in 2007 — but also the risk to their reputations if the commercials fall flat or offend.
Indianapolis? Chicago? Who cares? For many, the battle between Anheuser-Busch, FedEx and CareerBuilder for funniest commercial is what matters on Super Bowl Sunday.
The hype around Super Bowl spots has reached a fever pitch this year.
CBS (Charts), which will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLI from Miami on Sunday, is said to be charging as much as a record $2.6 million for a 30-second commercial, up slightly from the $2.5 million Walt Disney (Charts)-owned ABC got for an ad last year.
Thirty-four years ago this month, Farrah Fawcett sensuously applied Noxzema to Joe Namath’s manly chin — touching off an escalating arms race of expensive Super Bowl commercials that have frequently been more entertaining than the games.
Last year, advertisers weren’t shy about spending $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial, but only the Budweiser “Magic Fridge” commercial came within striking distance of our Top 10 list.
Below are the best Super Bowl commercials of all time, the keys to their success and the prospects of the company after the spot aired. As you can see, just because people are still talking about an ad more than 20 years later doesn’t mean the product changed the world:
10. Budweiser “Frogs” (1995)
9. Xerox “Monks” (1977)
8. Tabasco “Mosquito” (1998)
7. Electronic Data Systems “Herding Cats” (2000)
6. McDonald’s “The Showdown” (1993)
5. Monster.com “When I Grow Up …” (1999)
4. Reebok “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” (2003)
3. E*Trade “Monkey” (2000)
2. Coke “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
1. Apple “1984” (1984)
“The Super Bowl ads are better than the game.”
No doubt you’ve heard at least one friend or relative make that statement, usually after a few drinks, a large gambling loss or a horrible set of Super Bowl events that mock the sports gods — such as Washington quarterback Mark Rypien being named MVP.
But have we really reached the point where commercials have become more entertaining than the sporting event that surrounds them?
Clutter is a headache for media people under any circumstances, making it harder for an advertiser’s message to stand out. And when you’re paying a record $2.6 million to deliver that message, as are those advertisers with spots in this year’s Super Bowl on CBS, it’s even more of a concern. According to a report released late last week by TNS Media Intelligence, the Super Bowl has become more cluttered than ever. Last year’s game on ABC contained a record 47.2 minutes of ads, nearly four more minutes than Fox had the previous year. That includes promotions for the Super Bowl carrier’s own shows, a category that has exploded over the past five years. In 2001, the Super Bowl carrier ran 5 minutes and 55 seconds of self-promotion. Last year that soared to 10 minutes and 25 seconds. TNS also found that over the past 20 years, the Super Bowl has run more than 11 full hours of commercials for 221 advertisers, representing an investment of $1.72 billion.
Super Bowl viewers with high-definition TVs this year will see every bead of sweat on Bud Light bottles as clearly as those on the players.
The game has aired in ultrasharp HD since 2000, but Super Bowl XL on ABC will be the first in which the number of HD ads crosses the 50-yard line.
“We expect more than half the ads to run in HD,” says Ed Erhardt, ABC head of sports ad sales. Last year, 10 of the more than 30 minutes of ads were HD.
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