Jane Power
Jane Power
A view from Jane Power

Is $4m for a 30-second Super Bowl spot really worth it? In short - yes

Jane Power, account manager at the7stars, argues that the potential for social sharing and incremental reach is near infinite if brands get their Super Bowl moments right.

The Super Bowl has long been the home of great advertising, a marketing phenomenon that attracts views as much for the ads as for the game itself.

It is the true pinnacle of big event TV – in 2013 more than 108m people watched in the US alone – and combines a rapt engaged audience with the perfect environment for dual-screening. With advertisers forking out an estimated $4m per 30-second ad this year, what can we learn as best practice for making the most of a high profile media spot?

An obvious recommendation to begin: the ad should have the wow factor.

To truly capitalise on the opportunity cost and really resonate with the viewers, the ad should be distinctive, new and entertaining. This normally materialises in two distinct trajectories during the Super Bowl – celebrities and cute things. This year the roll call for starring in a Super Bowl ad will include Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle and John Stamos, alongside countless babies, children and dogs.

Preceding weeks

With a highly engaged audience not only during the Super Bowl, but in the preceding weeks and months as hype builds towards the final, Doritos is a brand that maximises the potential of the $4m ad spot. 

Each year, it treats the high-profile 30-second as the culmination of  ‘Crash the Super Bowl’, a gigantic UGC competition in which consumers are invited to create their own ads and each year, at least one fan-made ad will be aired during the show. In recognition of the global fame and prestige tied to the Super Bowl, the brand has opened up the competition to the 46 countries where Doritos are sold and one winning ad will be picked by fans in an online vote. 

Throughout the campaign, Doritos is ensuring optimum user engagement with would-be filmmakers firstly creating an ad, then canvassing everyone they know to vote for them – ensuring a highly involved, enthusiastic fan base long before the first touchdown.

As the world’s biggest advertising stage, the Super Bowl provides the perfect opportunity to unveil anything innovative or exclusive and enables any brand willing to do this to soak up reams of invaluable PR headlines. 

An exciting, entertaining ad, reaching out to customers and being innovative, all with a $4m price tag to boot – can it really be worth it? In short – yes.

This year’s golden child for innovation is H&M who will be debuting a "technology first" that will allow viewers to instantly purchase products directly from its ad spot, conveniently featuring David Beckham showcasing his new Bodywear collection. While only a fraction of viewers will be able to actually purchase (only those viewing via Samsung Smart TVs), H&M is amplifying the ad by supporting it with relevant experiential activity and a social media competition.

An exciting, entertaining ad, reaching out to customers and being innovative, all with a $4m price tag to boot – can it really be worth it? In short – yes. Done correctly, these ads are events too: content designed to entertain, engage and hopefully be remembered for years. On top of that, if the content is good enough, the potential for social sharing and incremental reach is near infinite. 

Last year, Super Bowl Monday recorded the most amount of shares over the weekend (3.3m) and the percentage of viewers who also shared the ads nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013 – in 2012 it took 57 views to generate one share, in 2013 it took only 31. 

For a front row seat to all the action and, more importantly, all the ads, tune in from 11pm on Sunday 2 February 2014.