Expensive commercials to dominate Super Bowl despite shaky economy


By Melanie M. Schroeder Northern Star (Northern Illinois U.)

(U-WIRE) DEKALB, Ill. — The battle between the Rams and the Patriots isn’t the only draw for Super Bowl fans this year, and neither is the half-time show featuring U2. Advertisers pull out the big guns during the Super Bowl, using both humor and drama in their commercials to convince viewers to purchase their products.

Memorable favorites include Pepsi’s 1995 commercial including a little boy who, trying to suck the last drop of his soda out of the bottle, gets sucked inside the bottle himself. An ad shown during 1998’s Super Bowl introduced Ali Landry in a Laundromat as she flipped backwards and caught a Dorito in her mouth.

Humorous ads featuring laughable characters, such as the Budweiser frogs, are a staple of Super Bowl advertising; however, this year’s ads will be more serious. Because of the Sept. 11 attacks, businesses are afraid to offend a recovering nation and subsequently lose millions of dollars in advertising.

Another factor that has affected this year’s commercials is the current recession, which has forced cutbacks in advertising costs. Thirty seconds of air time this year costs only $2 million dollars as compared to last year’s price of $2.5 million dollars, possibly compromising the quality of the commercials.

Monster.com, an Internet job search company, will feature commercials that won’t contain the usual laugh-out-loud humor of its predecessors. The company chose former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to star in its ad, hoping to inspire viewers to “never settle” for less than they’re capable of.

“The decision to use the hero of Sept. 11 in a humorous ad — playing on the fact that he’s now looking for work — could prove to be one of the canniest decisions by a Super Bowl advertiser this year,” according to mediaguardian.com.

Companies like Pepsi and Budweiser advertise during the Super Bowl not only because the game historically draws the largest television audience of the year. They know the majority of audience members recognize their products and buy them on a regular basis.

According to advertising.about.com., “Companies that don’t sell products or services geared to the average football fan and aren’t a mass vehicle for customers end up wasting their advertising dollars.”

Jay Wagle, a marketing professor and director of Northern Illinois University Honors Program, offered an example of such a company.

“Masterlock spent millions for thirty seconds,” he said, “and only 10 percent of those people were in the market for a lock. That is a wasted advertisement.”

Wagle said informational ads for lesser-known products are more effective than humorous ones. Though people may laugh at a funny commercial, they are unlikely to remember the product. Introducing the product and listing the reasons to buy it enforces the information in the viewer’s memory.

Many companies spend big bucks to sell their products to the Super Bowl audience, but Wagle suggested they ask themselves one question: “The bottom line argument is: Is it worth the money?”

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