The Most Valuable Time of the Year

“The Super Bowl is a big cultural moment that’s about people coming together for a good time, so we believe we need to be there.” -Pio Schunker, VP/Creative, Coca-Cola

“After last year’s experience, I don’t have the stomach for it.” -Brian Sharples, CEO

Pio and Brian articulate the two ends of Super Bowl advertising. Every season since 1984 some ads enhance “the big cultural moment” positively, and some negatively. The majority of the spots that fill the forty six minutes of ad time fall somewhere in the middle–ranked modestly by all the ad monitors and gradually fade away.

This year NBC is charging $3.5 million per :30 spot. Last season the average cost for a :30 ad was around $3 million. Hard to believe that just six years ago the cost was $2.5 million.

This season many marketers are following what VW did last year and releasing the ads beforehand. Consumers “like to be let in on the joke, let in on the story early” said Mike Sheldon, the chief executive of VW’s agency Deutsch/LA.

He’s right. These two ads are already at nearly 16 million views:

Judging from some of the pre-releases, it might be a good show this year. Socially, if you’d like to weigh-in on ads during the game and have them count in some form #BrandBowl is your hashtag where tweets will be streamed live on as well as a new mobile-friendly version of the well-known Brand Bowl site during the game.

This season features two major market teams in a re-match. Last year saw 111 million viewers with two very popular teams: the Packers and the Steelers. This year the NFL could break the record again and bring total viewers to around 115 million.

There have been tons of articles about the ads. But our favorite is perhaps from Stephen Marche at Esquire who talks about the ubiquity of marketing and how there “is no outside the ad” anymore, regardless of where we are. We often don’t realize the degree to which marketing subtly surrounds our life. But the Super Bowl, proudly, just puts it out there:

“The Super Bowl offers the possibility of a new relationship with advertising, one that’s different from the game of hide-and-seek we usually play. It runs against the tendency for naked pleas to become grainy and peripheral. It puts advertising at the center and asks: Which are the good ads and products and which are the bad ads and products? And thus it serves the same function today as the great medieval trade festivals and the World’s Fairs of the early twentieth century: providing chances for the marketplace to indulge in fantasies of industrial possibility.”

Enjoy the game.

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