It’s finally here. Football fans everywhere have spent the last year counting down to Super Bowl Sunday, the main event for the NFL. But advertising and marketing executives have spent the last year actively planning for Super Bowl Sunday. And let’s face it, a lot of people who are not football fans watch the Super Bowl for one thing: the commercials. The ads typically dominate water cooler conversation the next day, and now take over social media and traditional media as well – for many, the final score doesn’t even matter.

In ad land, Super Bowl Sunday is a holiday. A lot of us are like little kids on Christmas – only we’re glued to the television instead of staring at the chimney waiting for Santa to slide down. Year after year, brands deliver. The ads are creative, hilarious, inspiring. We talk about them for a year after they air… until the next Super Bowl. Which brand do you think will have the most popular ad this year?

The Way I See It

  • For advertisers, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year. I see brands paying millions of dollars for 30-second spots during the Super Bowl and investing in ads that they hope will draw lots of sales and big returns.
  • I see brands using Super Bowl commercials not just to entertain, but increasingly to engage the consumer offer by incorporating social media or mobile elements to their TV ads.
  • I see each brand that advertises trying to push the envelope with creative spots that will stand out to consumers – helping the brand to achieve a coveted spot as one of the top ads of the year, but also boosting sales for the brand.
  • I see advertising executives from all ends – creative, compliance, consumer, privacy, legal – coming together to create ads that define their brands, attracting consumers and creating buzz – and making sure that the buzz around an ad translates into buzz around a brand, which is often easier said than done.
  • What is the lesson for advertisers from the “blackout in New Orleans”? How do you protect yourself when there is a problem at a live event? I see advertisers thinking about integrated campaigns not just on the positive side – how they can all work together, but on the negative side – what happens if something goes wrong.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Jeff Klein, Senior Director of Marketing at Frito-Lay to discuss advertising during the Super Bowl and the importance of the NFL’s biggest game for the advertising industry.

Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” has become one of the most anticipated consumer contests of the year and is very successful, having won the USA Today ‘Ad Meter’ polling in three of the last four years. On a larger scale, consumer engagement through the use of contests, giveaways, and social media engagement, has become a huge trend for brands around the Super Bowl. Do you think consumers now have different expectations about the types of initiatives that brands will launch around the big game? How has consumer engagement with Super Bowl advertising evolved in recent years?

I think expectations of brand communication and activation have evolved considerably regardless of the communication medium, but they are certainly amplified at the Super Bowl. The days of talking at your consumer and expecting some sort of action are long gone. It’s more about consumer engagement – how can you continually engage your target in a conversation that goes well beyond the 30-second ad. How do brands achieve this on the world’s largest advertising stage? That depends largely on a brand’s narrative, but you can bet there will be innovative ways to extend their messaging beyond the game. Doritos literally invented the crowdsourcing model around the Super Bowl, and a few brands have been inspired to take similar approaches. It works for Doritos because it’s authentic. It’s not just a Super Bowl campaign, it’s part of our brand’s DNA.

90% of Super Bowl ad spots were sold by early September 2012 – just over five months before the game airs. What makes so many brands look to invest in this expensive space year after year? What is it about the Super Bowl and its viewership that holds such importance for brands?

For brands, it is absolutely a huge investment, but it also offers a unique communication opportunity in today’s fragmented media environment. From a pure eyeballs perspective, no program comes even close to the reach Super Bowl offers. There are few opportunities better in the year to drive awareness of a brand’s positioning, innovation, or programming – and the timing of the game allows you to set the tone for the year. Beyond this, it’s important to understand that not all Gross Rating Points (GRPs) are created equal. It’s very easy for consumers to avoid a brand’s messaging with technology. Not only is the Super Bowl virtually DVR proof, but people actually tune-in FOR the commercials.

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