The phenomenon of Super Bowl advertising

The Super Bowl is a sporting event talked about worldwide. Super Bowl Sunday unites fans of every NFL franchise into a frenzy of beer, food, beer, excitement, beer, debate and more (beer) as the two best teams of the season seek the ultimate NFL glory.

The coverage given to the Super Bowl is like nothing else, especially for what is the end of season finale for the sport of one nation. Perhaps because of the stereotypical ‘hype’ generated in the US for all-things American (naming the annual-baseball finals the ‘World Series’ being a prime example), most finals for a single, domestic sport don’t even come close to it in terms of build-up and live coverage. Only in the world of international sporting events do you start to see synergy; the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics are obvious examples, as is the UEFA Champions League Final which is the most watched club sport in the world as of 20101, ahead of the Super Bowl in second place.

However, away from the game itself, the Super Bowl is renowned for the publicity given to the now famous advertising spots throughout the coverage. The net price for a 30 second spot at this year’s Super Bowl topped $4 million2, or $133,333 per second. One could argue the price is probably worth it when the average audience is over 100 million viewers. Even if the Champions League Final is number one in terms of viewers, you don’t see the same level of excitement for the advertising. More than likely this comes about because of the number of different broadcasters across the countries, with none of them likely to individually reach 100 million plus viewers.

The closest we in the UK seem to have come for advert hype, in recent years, has been John Lewis’ Christmas commercials which more often than not have aired during the X Factor. In my own opinion, this is a depressing insight into the nature of British television combined with the fact that a lot of programmes with fantastic advertising potential are on the license-fee funded (and advert-free) BBC. No domestic-UK sporting final comes close.

Creatively, the Super Bowl also seems to bring out the best in marketing and advertising agencies due to the quality, execution, concept, humour, celebrity appearances or emotional impact on-show. In the age of social media brands need to consider the ‘shareable factor’, with the aim of getting the customer to do the marketing for them. In addition, getting a commercial banned (by accident but often by design) can generate increased awareness through the same social means.

In researching adverts for this blog, I came across this very recent article from which I believe does justice in pulling together a top ten for the greatest Super Bowl ads ever. It includes Apple, Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Pepsi, McDonalds to name just a view. Take a watch.

Back to the game, Seattle Seahawks or Denver Broncos?

1 The Independent
2 Forbes

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Dad, digital marketeer at Tank PR, Derby County fan, film buff, book worm and husband. In that order, but don't tell the wife.