Is a $3 Miilion Super Bowl Ad Really Worth It?

Quick:  can you name the four car companies that had ads running during the Super Bowl game last week?  Answer is below.

I know you were one of the record setting 111 million households that watched the Green Bay Packers’ eke out a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Those 2011 Super Bowl commercials cost a whopping $3 million dollars for a 30 second spot.  And yet, here we are nearly a week later and most people won’t remember who even spent the money.  Perhaps the more relevant question is whether any of these ads actually led to an actual sale.  And what do you think the results will be six months from now when the game is long forgotten?

In one way I feel for marketing people who have to worry about things like “impressions”, share of mind and maintaining brand leadership.  All of these are code words for measurements to validate why they are spending this kind of money.  The more savvy marketers will tell you that what they are really doing is building a “marketing campaign” around that 30 second ad (or ads in some cases).  Airing the ad is a trigger for more engagement marketing efforts.

I’m sure we could argue for hours about the real “value” or “need” for brand advertising.  Some, such as the Tech Reviews and News, are suggesting that Super Bowl XLV was the first in which social media played a significant role in trying to gain some true, tangible, albeit measurable value of the TV advertising.

But since repetition is the cornerstone of consumer memory, wouldn’t companies be better off with 10 $300,000 commercials than one $3 million commercial?  For example, I’m just a little doubtful that after one commercial that I would be interested in buying a Chrysler just because it was made in Detroit and is supposedly being driven by Eminem.  Maybe if you hammered me for weeks on end I might think about it.

Understand that I totally agree that these ads are entertaining and a change from the ones that seem to run again and again and again on more normal TV viewing days.  But I’m thinking that by taking even one of those 30 second commercials, and investing that same $3 million in a print Yellow Pages and IYP buy  is going get your company a much bigger lift over the next year than that one commercial will.  Imagine what a $3 million Yellow Pages ad program would get you, right at the point someone is ready to buy.

So what do you think? Is it still worth it for advertisers to spend the money on Super Bowl commercials, especially when they can now when they can spread that amount of money over a wider range of print and social media efforts, which will probably see more meaningful results?

Beyond question, the Super Bowl is the most heavily watched TV event each year.  But given the proof that about half of the audience isn’t even just watching the commercials (hey, I had more chili to cook and the call of Mother Nature to heed) couldn’t the money have been more effective spent elsewhere??

AnswerVW, BMW, Chevy, and Chrysler



2 responses to “Is a $3 Miilion Super Bowl Ad Really Worth It?

  1. Barbara Higgason

    You left out one of the auto maker’s that spent their hard earned dollars on a superbowl spot….Audi

    • Congratulations Barbara — you were the first to notice that my count was off. Actually my number was way off. General Motors, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Audi all ran ads.

      You have a sharp eye. Very good…

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