What makes Super Bowl advertisements special?

Have you ever wondered why Super Bowl commercials receive as much coverage as the upcoming game? What makes game-time ads so popular? The best-rated commercials tend to bring on nostalgia and/or pull at our heartstrings. Among the hype and anticipation, there are speculations that ads are beginning to lose the impact they used to have with the audience. Some have reported that advertisers are giving us too many teasers, which reduces the element of surprise on game day.

There are conflicting opinions on what makes an ad good.  An article published in Entertainment Weekly compared the best and worst 2014 Super Bowl ads, stating “snacks Doritos and M&Ms, which usually bring it hard for the Super Bowl, barely registered.” USA Today, among others would disagree with this statement, placing the Doritos Cowboy Kid ad in the top two of their pick lists.

The average cost for a 30 second ad was around four million dollars. Anheuser-Busch chose to purchase five smaller ad slots spread out over the game. This strategy gave them more exposure throughout the four-hour time span without sacrificing quality. Their Puppy Love ad is among the best rated this year.

According to International Business Times, the Super Bowl is the most viewed sporting event on television. With 111.5 million people watching this year, it offered more advertising exposure than most opportunities. Unlike regular programing, people prefer to watch sports live, increasing the chance of commercials being seen. Companies are willing to pay higher prices for advertising during prime time events. In the modern world of fast-forward and re-wind, most commercials are skipped over.

A report in Forbes estimated a 30 second ad during the 2014 Winter Olympics will cost around ninety-six thousand dollars.  They are predicting more advertisements will move online as more people are watching events on the Internet. A 30 second spot to advertise during the Olympics is approximately 3.75 million dollars less than the cost of a Super Bowl ad.  Could this difference explain the built-up hype and anticipation of the commercials we watch during the Super Bowl?

I have to wonder if the excitement most of us feel when waiting to watch a commercial is induced by the media. With the amount of money that is on the line in an effort to reach new customers, the teasers and pre-game media coverage seem almost needed to make us feel that these ads are more special than the ones than run every day. But the real question is, does it work? Do the appearance of big-name actors and commercials which pull at the heartstrings makes you want to run out and purchase their products? Regardless of why we watch, next year I will be one of the people waiting with anticipation for the next Super Bowl ad to run.

Susan Willetts

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One thought on “What makes Super Bowl advertisements special?

  1. So have the ads and the idea of the ads risen to what Boorstin (1961) calls a pseudo event? We know that all advertisements are designed to get customers to watch and ideally then feel a certain way and act a certain way. But a pseudo event is designed to get press coverage. Is that why some companies design ads that will be “banned” for the Super Bowl? Is the press coverage part of the equation for why Super Bowl ads are “worth it?”

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