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Super Bowl Advertising Survey – Half of the Brands Score Big

Super Bowl

Image courtesy of nfl.si.com

Only half of this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII’s advertisers will score big based on their big investments according to Brand Keys’ 12th annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey. When it comes to Super Bowl advertiser playbooks, brands all expect their ads to score big: big audiences, big creative, big buzz, and most importantly, big levels of emotional engagement. The survey found that for brands like GoDaddy, Old Spice, SodaStream, Pepsi, Toyota, and Butterfingers, the game should deliver.

Two of those hopes are sure to be granted during the Sunday, February 2, broadcast of Super Bowl LXVIII because the Super Bowl has long been a showcase for innovative creative and always generates big audiences. “But not all TV programs are the right choice for all brands no matter how super they are in attracting an audience – not even if it is the Super Bowl,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys, founder and president. Agencies all hope their ads will be entertaining.”

“But advertising must be judged by not just entertainment value, but how it performs off-field – in the marketplace. Does the ad engage and build the brand? Does it defend against competition? Does it engage enough to drive sales?” The reality is that advertisers are guaranteed awareness in a game known as much for the payers as for the players, with costs his year running around $134,000 a second. Viewers actually make pizza and beer runs during the game so they don’t miss the ads,” said Passikoff. “Brands that can afford those prices and that kind of viewer paradigm aren’t usually contending for awareness.” (if they go for pizza they must miss the ads!)

Methodology
To find out which ads will rack up big numbers on the brand engagement scoreboard, Brand Keys conducted its annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey, polling a national sample of 1,660 men and women who indicated they were going to watch the game. The research examined 29 brands (excluding movie studios where film specifics were unavailable) reported in the media to be Super Bowl advertisers, and determined, via emotional engagement assessments, to what degree brand values will be affected by advertising on the Super Bowl.

“In this instance you need more than a two-point conversion to ensure an ad engagement touchdown,” said Passikoff. Advertisers are classified, as “winners” (scoring 5 or more points, considered an engagement touchdown), “losers” (getting sacked and losing 5 or more engagement points), or brands that “tied” (brand engagement ratings left unaffected by the venue, “a very expensive advertising version of ‘no harm, no foul’,” noted Passikoff).

The Super Bowl Engagement Survey predictively measures respondents’ true reactions to brands in the context of the medium – how the it reinforces, or in some cases degrades – brand values, and can be conducted even before a brand signs a check. Results correlate highly with consumer behavior and have been validated as reliable predictors of future brand purchase.

The constant need to level the advertising playing field has not been lost on marketers. Increasingly they’’ve moved to create up-front buzz for their ads, recognizing that their ads will get noticed along with everyone else’s, planning pre-game sneak peeks to ‘preview’ on game night. “Watch for lots of tweets from virtually everyone,” said Passikoff, “And lots of digital outreach and integration during the game.”

But as much fun as the Super Bowl is, more and more, clients want more than just the knowledge that they were seen and/or buzzed, twittered, emailed, texted, posted, Facebooked or Pinterested. With 30-second spots selling for $4 million, plus, what Passikoff calls, “mind-bogglingly high production costs,” marketers need a new game plan when it comes to ad effectiveness and ROI. “Monday-morning creative quarterbacking is always fun. Ad entertainment value and social networking reviews generate lots of water cooler talk. But these days that’s not enough. With the proliferation of media platforms, it’s easy to understand that a brand feels it must entertain the audience just to get consumers to look, but being seen is only the advertising pre-game,” said Passikoff.

When a brand gets into people’s living rooms, it doesn’t matter how many consumers tweet if, ultimately, it doesn’’t increase brand engagement levels and sales. “Otherwise the brand just spent a ton of money for buzz and not a lot of buy,” observed Passikoff. “On this particular Sunday, what should remain is not what ad made viewers laugh hardest or brought a tear to their eye, but which ads moved consumers closer to the brands. Recently, marketers have found that is a lot harder to do than just using move stars, cute kids, a Clydesdale foal, or consumer or computer generated ads. Real engagement assessments – separate and apart from number of eyeballs – can provide a brand team with a reliable scouting report, letting them know how super their media buy and brand engagement will actually be.”

Final Score
The final Super Bowl score: brand engagement is vastly different from being watched, entertaining viewers or being talked about on the next day. “These are not acceptable returns on an investment of this size. And, keeping with another sports metaphor,” said Passikoff, “we’d remind marketers that there may be no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ but there is one in ‘Return-On-Investment.’”

 

About The Author

Robert K. Passikoff

Robert Passikoff is Founder & President of Brand Keys, Inc. and a sought-after speaker and thought leader on engagement and loyalty. He has 35 years of agency and client experience in all phases of strategic brand planning for a wide variety of B2B and B2C product and service categories. He has pioneered work in the area of loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index®, the Brandweek Loyalty Leaders List, the Sports Fan Loyalty Index®, and the Women’s Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index®.

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