For CMOs, It's Super Bowl Season, And They Had Better Get Creative

It’s officially summer. And for the public at large, thoughts are turning to the Summer Olympics. But for the major marketers, it’s already Super Bowl season. CBS has reported that roughly half of the advertising inventory for next year’s Super Bowl XLVII has already been booked. And every other big brand is considering this investment.

And what an investment it is. In addition to the $3.5–$4 million outlay per 30 seconds of airtime, there are the costs of producing the TV spots, synchronizing social efforts and making sure that retail channels, in whatever form they take, are up to snuff. But CMOs are not foolish — the Super Bowl is a very special event for brands. Not only does a brand get the largest U.S. viewership possible, it also gets something unique— a public that is actively interested in advertising. If ever there were an opportunity to position a brand in our American culture, this is it.

But how does a marketer ensure a spectacular ROI come February 2013? This is where the findings from Social Bowl 2012 come into play. During Super Bowl XLVI, the advertising agency McKinney and business-analytics software provider EvoApp teamed to determine what drives the lasting business return on Super Bowl advertising investments. Across 35 different advertisers, we collected 30 different variables related to their marketing efforts. And we examined business performance along three different dimensions: social-media momentum, digital interest, and the media value of all digital engagement in the brand. Then we crunched, munched and correlated the numbers to see what was important.

So where should Super Bowl marketers focus? Here are our recommendations.

Creative really matters. The brands with the best TV creative, as deemed by the people, experienced the most social momentum and digital interest, and that momentum lasted weeks longer than those with merely “average” creative. Here is a chart that shows USA Today’s Super Bowl AdMeter rankings for each brand’s spots, and the corresponding business ROI estimated by Social Bowl 2012:

Simply put, if you want people to talk about your brand, give them something to talk about.

Don’t spend a ton of money; spend the right amount. Budweiser and Coca-Cola spent approximately $14 million each on their TV ad presences, and Coke doubled down with a co-viewing site featuring their lovable polar bears. Yet both brands ranked in the middle of the pack. Kia, our winner, spent only $7 million. How did they do it? A beloved TV spot that combined sex, rock and roll, and hoagies — a winning trifecta for any man lusting after a reasonably priced performance sedan. And they were savvy about prelaunching their spot when there was no competition from major automotive brands.

This leads to our last recommendation.

Launch your ad like the studios launch their movies. This year, 83% of the brands unveiled their spots ahead of the game. And for good reason: Hundreds of thousands of social mentions were garnered based on these prereleases. Yet now there’s clutter in the prerelease strategy. In the week before the game, 60% of all brands launched their ads. CMOs need to pick a release date that is not crowded by big, tentpole brands like VW or Chevy. And the release game plan should factor in the social strategy, the personality of their brand and the TV spot itself. Is it a star-heavy blockbuster like “The Avengers?” Or a long, intriguing tease like “The Blair Witch Project?” A cohesive strategy that blends paid and shared media is essential.

Whether you are in front of the screen or planning for being on multiple screens, there is no better time to be in advertising than the Super Bowl. I can’t wait to see how the decisions made by CMOs today become real experiences on Super Bowl Sunday next year.

Read More at: Forbes