Advertisers Will Kick Themselves for Skipping Super Bowl XLIV

This year is slated to be one of the few in history when the price of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl declines, hobbled by the recession and decisions by some top marketers to sit on the sidelines. But 2010, when a 30-second spot is selling for $2.5 million to $2.8 million, compared with $3 million in 2009, may prove a glitch rather than the new norm. According to a new study from San Francisco advertising firm Venables Bell & Partners, Super Bowl commercials not only continue to spur consumer buying, but may influence consumers for much longer time than in previous decades. And that may push up ad rates in future games."With the Web, it's a longer tail attached" to the life of Super Bowl ads than in the past, Lucy Farey-Jones, partner and head of strategy at Venables, tells DailyFinance. Her firm created the questions for the study, which polled 1,000 Americans.

"If you strike gold [with an ad], you can count on people tweeting about it and sharing it. We found that 41% of Americans who watch the game are planning on rewatching ads online," she says. "It's still a great venue for American advertisers who have the money. Yes, ad rates are down, but the price will go up in the future because of the long tail."

Strategic Mistake?

The old saw in advertising -- "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half" -- may not hold true for the biggest TV commercial venue. TV spots airing during the Super Bowl are likely to spur three out of four viewers to research or buy a product, according to the poll. Perhaps most remarkably, two-thirds of respondents remembered their favorite brand advertiser from the 2009 Super Bowl, while only 39% recalled the winning team.

The poll results raises the question of whether some top marketers such as PepsiCo (PEP) are making a strategic mistake by sitting out the Super Bowl this year. Indeed, the study asked consumers whether it was irresponsible to spend millions on a Super Bowl ad during a recession. The answer may surprise some. "Most people say it's responsible to invest money in the Super Bowl during a recession rather than irresponsible," she says. "According to our study, people are ready for a damn good laugh."

Humor still rules with viewers, the poll found. Eighty-seven percent of those polled said funny ads were more memorable, a statistic that bodes well for companies such as CareerBuilder (pictured). It's asking people to vote on which ad it should air during the game; one of them features a cubicle worker lighting his farts on fire.

Brand New Baby

Another company planning on bringing the funny to the Feb. 7 game: E*Trade, which will air a fresh spot from its popular "talking baby" series. Though, as DailyFinance reported, E*Trade is making one change: It has cast a new baby for the ads after the previous child literally outgrew the role.

As for Venables, the ad firm had already wrapped its Super Bowl spot for Audi before getting the poll's results, Farey-Jones says. The spot, which marks Audi's third year advertising during the game, will feature the Audi A3 TDI, and take a tongue-in-cheek approach. "People want to be entertained," she says.
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