On Feb. 3, tens of millions of viewers will be tuning in to watch the Super Bowl, but many will also - or only - be watching the "Super Bowl of advertising" that will air during breaks in the game. Jan Slater, head of the department of advertising, has 25 years of experience in the advertising industry, and built her own regional advertising agency. She also has studied branding and media, and is co-author of "What's in a Name: Advertising and the Concept of Brands." Slater was interviewed by News Bureau editor Craig Chamberlain.
So when, and why, did the Super Bowl become such a showcase for advertising?
Really, the hoopla started in 1984 when Apple spent its entire advertising budget, $1.6 million, to produce and air a 60-second commercial on the Super Bowl to introduce the first Macintosh personal computer. While Apple only paid to have it air one time, the ad created a media frenzy. The ad is now legendary and is seen as the first example of "event marketing." Other marketers watched as Apple reaped the rewards of creating buzz and the "Super Bowl of advertising" was born.
How many ads will be run and what is the rate for airtime? Do we know how much advertisers are spending on production?
There is room for 63 advertisements within the game, according to the broadcaster, Fox. These spots cost $2.7 million for 30 seconds. It is not uncommon for production costs for individual ads to reach nearly $1 million. As in previous years, Anheuser-Busch is the big spender overall in the purchase of airtime.
What is the target market for Super Bowl ads? How different is it from the male demographic obviously targeted in most football advertising?
The Super Bowl is a social event, so it attracts a somewhat different audience than typical football advertising. Today's Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest food days on our calendar, competing directly with Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are more women viewers of the Super Bowl and you will see some of that reflected in the advertisements - for instance, Tide will have a commercial during this year's game. However, the primary audience is still males ages 18-34 and that is very reflective of the advertisements you'll see.
Besides the size of the audience, what motivates companies to spend so much in this one broadcast, rather than spreading it around?
There are really several goals. Certainly, reach is a big one. There is no other marketing event that will reach as many people, an estimated 90 million. If those watching are in your target market, the Super Bowl is a very effective, efficient means to reach those buyers. It is also just good business for those brands known for being part of any sporting event. The Super Bowl exceeds its marketing function, simply because of the news hype.
The Super Bowl also is a creative contest to an extent - to see who can get the most attention. That isn't always "good" attention. Go Daddy is famous for creating very risqué advertisements for the game, having those rejected by the censors, gaining news coverage of that rejection, and putting the rejected ads on their website.
Lastly, it is cool to be a Super Bowl advertiser, which became especially clear during the dot.com craze. From 1999 through the dot.com bust, more than half of the Super Bowl advertisers were dot.com companies and start-ups trying to get attention from investors. Some even borrowed the money to purchase the multi-million dollar spots. Many of those companies are no longer around.