Super Bowl TV Ads Reign, Even in a Digital World – Nasdaq

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By Suzanne Vranica

When digital marketing veteran Joanne Bradford was seeking to launch the first major advertising campaign for online lender Social Finance Inc., her first inclination was to go all digital.

As chief operating officer of the privately-held startup, whose $4 billion valuation makes it one of Silicon Valley’s so-called unicorns, she sought out proposals from a range of digital publishers last fall including BuzzFeed, Vox and Yahoo.

Instead, she opted for a marketing vehicle many brands–digital and brick-and-mortar alike–have put their faith in: the Super Bowl.

The lender, which offers student-loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans, will ramp up a $20 million TV and digital ad effort with a spot during the Feb. 7NFL title game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. SoFi will spend about 20% of its annual ad budget on the Super Bowl push.

Ad prices for the big game have increased about 75% during the past decade, according to ad-tracker Kantar Media. This year, companies are paying broadcaster CBS up to $5 million for 30 second’s worth of ad time.

By comparison, a major campaign on YouTube, when one advertiser takes over all the ads on the site’s home page as well as pre-roll ads before videos, can cost about $500,000 a day, according to an ad buyer.

Digital outlets have had some success luring marketing dollars away from TV, touting their precision at targeting specific audience groups. But with a huge live audience–last year’s game attracted a record 114 million viewers–the Super Bowl still reigns when it comes to blasting out a message to as many consumers as possible.

Nothing could beat the Super Bowl for the “impact of that moment” and the “brand awareness that it offers,” said Ms. Bradford, whose career has included stints at companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Pinterest.

Another problem with launching through digital partners is that it would require creating customized ads for each digital platform, adding to the cost, she noted.

“While they are all fantastic [digital publishers] and I will use them all, not one could stand on its own like Super Bowl,” Ms. Bradford added.

In addition to the big audience, there is another benefit for marketers: Super Bowl ads often generate free publicity and have a longer life online.

The Super Bowl “jump started our brand awareness” and “our awareness among retailers,” said Rob Packard, vice president of marketing and retail for Gildan USA, a unit of Montreal-based T-shirt maker Gildan Activewear Inc., which used the Super Bowl in 2013 to launch a year-long ad effort that included digital ads.

The company spent about $20 million on U.S. ads during 2013, Kantar data shows.

The Super Bowl ad led more retailers to carry Gildan products, making them available in 15,000 stores, up 50% from before the Super Bowl. The result: a roughly 90% jump in sales of Gildan retail brand items in 2013, about 20% more than the company had expected.

Auto maker Kia Motors America will make its seventh appearance in the Super Bowl this year with a commercial featuring actor Christopher Walken.

The company’s Super Bowl ad last year was a major reason that sales of the Sorento, a crossover utility vehicle, surged 13% for 2015, faster than the segment’s 10% growth during the period, said chief operating officer Michael Sprague. The day after the game, sales leads coming through the website were 31% above January’s daily average.

After running a Super Bowl ad last year, car floor mat-maker WeatherTech enjoyed a 46% increase in website visits from February through March, compared with the same period in 2013. Calls to WeatherTech’s 1-800 number also were up 26% during the period, the company said.

But David MacNeil, founder and chief executive of WeatherTech, which will make its third Super Bowl appearance this year, said the benefits go beyond goosing sales “in the hours, days or months” after the big game; it is about making sure a brand sticks with a consumer for years.

WeatherTech’s Super Bowl investment, representing about 7% of its annual ad spending, is its single largest for a specific media.

Pairing a Super Bowl ad with digital ads in the weeks leading up to the game and after is the best way to get the most bang for the buck, ad executives say. The Super Bowl ad “acts as a rock in the pond to stimulate these other activities, if done well,” said Wes Nichols, co-founder, MarketShare, a firm that works with advertisers to measure the return of their ad spending.

SoFi’s Ms. Bradford will run ads on digital channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to support her Super Bowl ad that carries the tagline: “Don’t Bank. SoFi.”

The Super Bowl isn’t a panacea, ad experts say. Last year, Bud Light ran a 90-second commercial featuring a man participating in a real-life game of Pacman didn’t boost the perennial Super Bowl advertiser out of a sales funk.

Even when a Super Bowl ad goes awry, it still can have some benefit. In 2011, a spot for Groupon was slammed for being offensive because it poked fun at a humanitarian cause–the plight of Tibetans. “[The controversy] was hard to go through,” but the ad “did generate a lot of awareness and made Groupon a household name,” said Andrew Mason, Groupon’s founder and former CEO.

Steven Perlberg contributed to this article.

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Source: Google News Super Bowl Commercials

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