Watching Ad Media with Super Bowl in Mind

Watching Ad Media with Super Bowl in Mind

Welcome to MediaPost’s first annual Super Bowl advertising wrap-up. I am your host, Adam Herman. Don’t worry, I’m not going to review each spot that aired. Ad Age, USA Today and a half dozen others have already covered that. As always, we take a unique point of view at the MONITOR and to paraphrase Masha, I’ll be “Watching Ad Media with Super Bowl in Mind.”

All right then, time for the kick off.

What was the biggest story going into the Super Bowl, besides the rags-to-riches tale of Kurt Warner, the St. Louis Rams MVP quarterback? It was the price for a 30-second national spot. A whopping $2,200,000 or about $73,333 per second. Was it worth it? Well, keeping the effectiveness of creative execution out of the equation for the moment, I would probably say yes.

What other event, and what other medium besides network television could reach 100+ million men, women and children simultaneously and hold their collective attention for four hours? Heck, half the people I know who watched the first half of the game were more interested in the commercials than the score. So, despite the rapid emergence of the Internet as an advertising medium and ever-declining primetime ratings, network television is still the king of all media… at least for event broadcasts.

Last year, two advertisers – and – believed TV was king and bet most of their year’s marketing budgets on a spot or two during the Super Bowl. Was it successful? Aside from dramatic increases in site hits, brand recognition and revenue for these two pioneers, there is one sure way to tell — this year, no less than 16 dot.coms bought HALF the airtime inventory.

It is these brand-starved companies with super-flushed pockets that drove the price per spot up 38% over last year. If Wired Magazine would put on a TV show, I’m sure the advertising lineup would be identical.

On the subject of cross-media, one of the most talked about trends to arise in the past few months has been convergence – the natural synergies that media companies, particularly online and offline, can bring together to create an even stronger marketing and distribution whole.

Well, where was the “convergence” in this year’s Super Bowl broadcast? It certainly wasn’t at ABC. I can hardly remember a mention of the Internet in four hours. I know the network didn’t want to loose viewers, but come on, try a little harder to leverage the or websites with their multitude of Super Bowl related content.

Even after the game, ABC could have sent viewers to their websites for recap and analysis. I know I can’t watch a CBS- aired sporting event without being bombarded with mentions of CBS’s Hey ABC, cross-promoting Regis Philbin 500 times is not convergence.

And what about the fifty or so advertisers? Running a URL at the end of a spot is also not convergence. Even at that minimum, my guess is only about three-quarters of the spots ran a URL. No one created a Victoria Secret type integrated event/commercial that so aptly converged television, publicity and the Internet into one of most talked about marketing ploys of 1999. Agencies and clients were willing to waste millions on dreadful commercials but not spend the money or the time on a single powerful idea that could marry their spots to their websites.

In my opinion, although there were no “breakthrough” spots, there were a few advertisers that used the halo of the Super Bowl to brand their sites.

The best one by far was E*’s “wasted thirty seconds of a singing chimp.” Because it appeared they threw their money away, they could brilliantly tie it back to their core business with the tagline “Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks. What are you doing with your money?” Here, they took the most obvious downside of being a Super Bowl advertiser (the cost) and turned it into the strongest message (invest wisely).

To show how difficult this is to pull off, look at who purposely did “the worst ad on the Super Bowl.” However, this poorly conceived text ad barely explained what the site did (I watched it three times and still have no idea what they do). They did get something right – it WAS the worst ad.

Other spots of note: using the power of TV to show the speed and diversity of products on their site; and Oxygen Media using virtually no dialogue except crying girl babies, convincingly portraying the site as a “powerful voice for women” that will be heard from soon.

Lastly, the greatest disappointment to me was the two who started it all last year — and I was shocked how off the mark their follow-up campaigns were, especially I guess there is always Super Bowl XXXV to look forward to.