Super Bowl Ads Lead to Bigger Box Office

By Gregory Solman

LOS ANGELES A study of Super Bowl advertising effectiveness shows that movies marketed during the big game perform 40 percent better at the box office than films that are not.

The report by Rama Yelkur, Chuck Tomkovick and Patty Traczyk, of the marketing department of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, was first published in the Journal of Advertising Research. It covered 21 movies advertising on the Super Bowl telecast from 1998 to 2001, though the professors said the model has been shown to apply to 2002 to 2004. In 2003, for example, all 10 movies advertised on the game opened at No. 1 at the box office.

“We studied the movies because the data is pure and available,” said Tomkovick. “In a sense, it is always a new product,” with no prior box-office accumulation. The research discovered that movie marketers who advertise on the Super Bowl earn better opening weekend revenue, first week business and bigger total U.S. receipts.

To purify their model, the authors dismissed artsy, small- and mid-budget releases that would be unlikely candidates to advertise at Super Bowl rates of millions of dollars per 30-second spot. “We looked at male-oriented, youth-oriented action or comedy movies in pre-packaged forms,” said Yelkur. “The movies compared had to have made the top 10 for at least one week. And we looked only at February to August releases.”

Tomkovick added that the study took into account the placement of the movie within the game, and factored “a smattering of [overall] marketing investment as a criteria” to even the playing field. “The score of the game doesn’t turn off the Super Bowl advertising viewers,” he said, adding that 8 percent of all viewers watch the game solely for the new commercials. “In fact, we’re found that the less scintillating the game, the more attention is paid to the commercials. That’s how it’s gone from being the Super Bowl to the Bud Bowl to the Ad Bowl.”