The biggest night in American football is coming up this Sunday, February 5th. The New England Patriots will take on the Atlanta Falcons in Houston, TX in the 51st Super Bowl. Football fans around the country look forward to this night all season long. However, not everyone who tunes into the game is interested in the sport. Some people are going to tune in for the half-time show and others will tune in for the Super Bowl commercials.
Ad spots during the Super Bowl are some of the most expensive advertising spots in television. The minimum cost for a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl this year is a minimum of $5 million.
If big brands want their ads to air before the half-time show or during the 4th quarter then they’re paying top dollar. Why do big brands pay out so much money for an ad that guarantees no return? What are brands actually selling with the ad space they purchase? And what can small brands learn about business from the ads that are aired during the Super Bowl?
Big brands pay out millions of dollars to advertise during the Super Bowl because the audience that they will reach is guaranteed to be huge. In 1967, during the first Super Bowl when America’s population was at about 200 million, 50 million watched the game. Fifty years later, the population has grown substantially. Now an average of 110 million people tune in for the Super Bowl. The ability to saturate over 100 million people with the same message that represents big brand values is a once-in-a-year opportunity that companies take advantage of.
Additionally, big brands realize advertising is not about the immediate return. None of the big brands that advertise during the Super Bowl expect customers to rush out that evening or even the next day to buy their product. However, they do expect their message to stick with viewers. This way early into a new year, that often pays out much better in the long run.
With ad spots going for $5 million per 30 seconds, big brands have the challenge of packing a storyline and selling point into their commercials. Additionally, they have to include a message that people will remember. Of course, brands like Anheuser-Busch and Always can afford to spend more in ad space and buy up minute or minute-and-a-half long spots. This gives more time to make their message memorable because most companies don’t focus on products during Super Bowl advertising. Instead they focus on a timely message with emotional impact that represents the essence of the company brand. People remember emotional messages longer than sales pitches and the brands that can afford Super Bowl ad spots know this.
Take for example, the Top Ad of the 2014 Super Bowl – Anheuser-Busch’s #BestBuds campaign. The ad featured a puppy that befriended a Clydesdale and told the story of their unlikely friendship. In the advertisement, nothing could keep them apart. Anheuser-Busch is known for their beer and particularly their Budweiser and Bud Light product lines. The commercial did not feature one bottle of beer, but had the #BestBuds slogan at the end which struck a chord with both loyal customers who are familiar with the Budweiser brand and a new market who found appeal in the heartwarming nature of the ad.
The list of what small brands can learn from big brands who advertise through Super Bowl commercials could go on and on, but there are some key factors to point out. For one, small brands should embrace selling a message through a story instead of a product or service. Furthermore, an ad that tells a story can be easy for smaller brands to create and focus on themselves.
Secondly, branding and advertising are not about immediate gratification. As stated earlier, big brands don’t assume to see product sales spike the day after the Super Bowl. Instead they hope to be remembered around the time of the year that their products are heavily consumed – i.e. Anheuser-Busch expects to see sales spike in the summer time when outdoor activities are popular and the days are hot while Amazon expects to see sales peak around the holiday season when gift giving is top priority across the country.
Finally, the most important thing that small brands can learn from big business Super Bowl commercials is free market research. Big name brands spend an average of $1 million on marketing the advertisement that they are going to run during the Super Bowl. When companies are spending that kind of money to advertise an advertisement then they know what they’re doing. While watching Super Bowl commercials, the first thing small business owners should be doing is taking notes.
While big brands spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl commercials, small brands have the opportunity to learn a lot about the advertising approach. By absorbing what tactics successful businesses use and noting certain practices that echo among multiple ad spots, small brands can adapt their advertising approach and become more successful, too.
At Number8, we’ve built our process off of rugby, but we love football, too, and everything that Super Bowl commercials can teach small brands about business. If you’re a small brand looking to improve upon your business practices and grow through advertising, contact Number 8 today. We can help you to produce better software, so you can focus more on the message you want the world to hear. Call us at 502-212-0978 to talk ideas, design, and custom software development or visit our website today.
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