Last year, we here at Tuesday with Tukaiz said that Super Bowl XLVIII was about “Extending the Conversation.” One of the common strategies noted was the use of sentimental themes, and that strategy was utilized even more this year. At the cost of $4.5 million for 30-seconds of air time, many advertisers attempted to tug at the emotional heartstrings of a collective 114.4 million U.S. viewers. NBC received a rating of 49.7—the highest in Super Bowl history—which good news for advertisers as they spent almost $500,000 more for 30- seconds this year than they did in 2014.
As we pointed out last year, television advertising is being used as a springboard for direct engagement with customers. Keeping this in mind, advertisers this year chose to evoke emotional stories to get consumers talking or, in Internet speak, “hit them right in the feels.” Some examples of this were Toyota’s To Be a Dad, Microsoft’s Braylon O’Neill, Budweiser’s Lost Dog made a return, and Dove’s Real Strength, just to name a few. Humor was not absent as brands like Clash of the Clans, Kia, and Esurance used actors often type-cast for certain roles or the popular characters they play to the delight of many fans. Dads were also “in” this year. In the past, father-like characters were often depicted as the butt of the joke in many advertisements. Advertisers are moving to this redirect, citing changing family dynamics as well as the negative domestic violence stories in the news. Still, this is an interesting move as statistics show that more women are watching the Super Bowl each year and that they make 85% of all consumer purchases in the United States.
Keeping in-line with trends we saw last year, many marketers released their advertisements early through YouTube. Extended cuts and previews of commercials allowed them to tell a more complete story and provoke consumers to pay even more attention to the commercial spots during game time. However, this method did backfire on some on some. Perennial bad-boys GoDaddy.com pulled an advertisement slated to air during the game due to an online petition that received over 42,000 signatures.
The cost of Super Bowl advertising is always staggering, but with viewership numbers and social media conversation surrounding the commercials themselves—it is difficult to argue that it is not worth the amount spent. By utilizing more emotional content, advertisers hope to persuade more consumers to get involved in the conversation. Nevertheless, there is a line that advertisers need to consider, where people are turned off. Nationwide Insurance ran an advertisement that upset many viewers; in a press release created shortly after it was aired, they did come out and say “The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.” And to that extent they succeeded.
If you look at the advertising from the past two years, one thing has become clear. While the ads themselves may not have a direct effect on sales, they do have an effect on brand perception. Brand perception has always been an important purchasing factor—especially in highly competitive markets. Through conversation on social media, brands are now able to quantify consumer response and utilize it to more effectively market to their customers.