What You’re Really Paying For With A Super Bowl Ad 3

This morning during my commute I was listening to @MattyShow (Kiss 108’s morning show, Matty in the Morning) and DJ Matt Siegel was asking his staff why all of these businesses are paying big bucks for Super Bowl ads and giving it all away the week before the broadcast?

Siegel makes a great point. Why are all of these corporate giants paying millions of dollars for a 30 or 60 second spot and not waiting for a big reveal during the game? Not only are they not waiting, they are actively promoting their commericals now, the week before.

This pre-game promotion was confirmed to me this morning when I saw an article in my Twitter feed from Elaine Wong at Forbes called “The Super Bowl Ads You Can’t Miss.” Really? Two full days in advance?

Stuart Elliot, the advertising critic for the New York Times also wrote a piece called “Some Super Bowl Ads Go Online Before the Game” in which he writes:

“For decades, most Super Bowl advertisers followed a simple rule: Keep commercials under wraps until the moment they go on the air.  But social media like Faceboo, Twitter and YouTube have ushered in a new era, and marketers are doing what was once unthinkable. In addition to offering sneak peeks of their spots and revealing contents of the commercials, many, like the vacation rental company HomeAway, are going the full Monty and sharing the entire ads in advance.”

I was discussing this with my RaceTalk colleague, Ben Haber, who echoed Elliot’s analysis, “You aren’t paying millions for the air time during the game. You’re paying millions to drive people to your social media channels and engage with your brand.”

Personally, I have always liked the mystery of having to wait until the game to see the commercials that score these highly coveted spots. While I understand wanting to maximize the investment and heighten the curiosity, I find it disappointing that these companies aren’t honoring the sanctity of the Super Bowl element of surprise.

What do you think? If you worked for a company who paid for a Super Bowl ad would you reveal and market it before the game?

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3 thoughts on “What You’re Really Paying For With A Super Bowl Ad

  • Katie Judd

    I agree with Ben and Stu – an ad has to work harder and longer than 30 seconds to be valuable. Marketers are more driven by ROI than ever – and what is the return on a multi-million dollar spot? A favorable Nielsen rating? Comsumers are not as brand loyal as they used to be – they’re buying cheap. Consumer products brands need to work harder at driving engagement and loyalty, and social media is a great place to do that. The pre-launch won’t take away from the Super Bowl ad, only enhance it and give it more relevance.

    That said – I’m waiting until the game to watch them :)

  • Ben Lurie

    Absolutely. People don’t enjoy watching the ads just because they’re shown during the Super Bowl; they enjoy the Super Bowl ads because they’re inherently well-done and amusing.

    The early reveals seem to me like a way to take advantage of the reputation that Super Bowl ads have. There’s an expectation that they’re going to be good, so they immediately get a boost in their viewership over regular ads that then boosts their ability to influence people during the game. If you’re watching the game in a bar and your friend leans over and says “watch this one, I saw it online and it was amazing”, you’re more likely to remember it and love it.

    For me, the early reveal just gives me something to look forward to. It’s like watching a movie at home vs. watching it in theaters: you go to the theater for the whole experience of going out with friends, buying popcorn, and seeing the movie as it was intended. A grainy YouTube version of the Volkswagen ad, for example, just gets me excited to see it “for real” during the game.

    Thanks for the interesting post!