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Super Bowl Ads: Behind the Scenes

This Super Bowl was one for the history books: Baltimore held on to top the 49ers, Beyonce conquered the stage and Oreo capitalized on a 34-minute blackout with a speedy social response. From a branding perspective, advertisers, agencies and media are racing to analyze results and rank Super Bowl ads – the fruit of months of planning and labor.

Super Bowl XLVII drew 108.7 million viewers from 53 million homes. TV ads, still the main focus of branding during the game despite digital and social media, cost $4 million per 30-second spot, not counting production and creative costs. This year, DG delivered 80% of the total TV ads and was on site at CBS to ensure every technical and creative detail of the pricey spots ended up on the big screen without a glitch.

Perennial favorites like Doritos, Budweiser, Taco Bell, Dodge, Chevrolet and America’s Milk Processors were all present, delivering a mix of slap-stick and tear-jerkers. Nielsen’s recall index rated the Doritos “Goat-4-Sale” ad as the most recalled by its panel, with a recall rate 1.38 times that of the average Super Bowl ad, followed by Taco Bell’s “Goodnight Mr. Goldblatt” and GoDaddy’s “Two sides to GoDaddy” with 1.37 and 1.30, respectively.

“One of the most thrilling advertising events of the year, the excitement and anticipation of the Super Bowl is no more palpable than on site at CBS, where we worked closely with our advertisers and seamlessly delivered 80% of in-game spots and NFL promos,” said Fred Cunha, Divisional VP, Affiliate Relations.

“The pressure is on,” added Cunha. “For example, when one creative was still being worked on 90 minutes before the client’s final viewing, DG was able to get the two spots from the advertiser to CBS within the hour.”

Here are some quick observations from behind the scenes and best practices for brands to manage their big game campaigns in the future:

  • Doritos scored big again with a tried and true tactic: crowdsourcing. Both ads, “Goat-4-Sale” and “Fashionista Daddy,” were the winners of a nationwide contest for the coveted Super Bowl spots. While viewed with skepticism by professional ad agencies, this tactic combines the momentum of online seeding and social media (with approximately 5 million combines YouTube views to date) while harnessing the ambition of small shops in the process.

  • Long form sentimental campaigns (such as Dodge Ram’s “God Made a Farmer” and Budweiser’s “Clydesdale & Trainer”) ranked high on Nielsen’s likability index. The takeaway? Tugging at the heart strings of America’s heartland renders great results. These ads took more time (120 and 60 seconds, respectively) but the brands used it to tell a complete story with a narrative in the vein of Chrysler’s breakout “Halftime in America” ad from last year. Sometimes, imitation works.

  • Super Bowl spots need to meet two distinct measurement requirements – one based on traditional TV scoring and one based on a much more complicated mix of cross-platform paid, owned and earned metrics – before, during and after the game.

To make the most out of their Super Bowl ads, brand marketers should look at the whole picture. This means measuring and quantifying the total impact and full return of the campaign, not only game-day impact. Fans live in a cross-channel reality; in 2013 and 2014, advertisers will follow them there.

Michael Froggatt is Principal Research Analyst at Sizmek. In his role, Michael is responsible for providing thought leadership for Sizmek customers as well as the advertising industry as a whole. He is charged with authoring industry whitepapers,...

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