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January 14, 2004

Betting on the Game's Breaks

Craig Henry notes that thirty seconds of Super Bowl advertising time is going for $2.25 million this year. That's a whole lot o' dough to be banking on a single production. Not only is there the gamble, but it may be that viewers' expectations for the commercials actually diminish their value:

There is also the danger of hyper-awareness. Viewers watch, evaluate, and discuss the commercials as commercials. The underlying product can easily get lost. Often advertisers end up making a "great commercial" rather than one that most effectively conveys their message.

What's worse, perhaps, is the intersection of the gamble and the expectations. I wouldn't be surprised if it were true that Super Bowl viewers are actually more likely to recall the products behind bad commercials, but as an unfavorable impression. Advertisers can't fail much more magnificently than by spending $2.25 million for the privilege of giving that many people the impression that the client let them down.

Somewhat related: I've been surprised, and a little disappointed, at my own susceptibility to marketing strategies. The latest indications of this are MCI's Neighborhood commercials. When Danny Glover was the company's spokesman, I found myself inclined to hiss whenever I saw the telltale yellow and green of the campaign. Now that they've switched to "live" performances of feel-good music — of a variety that I like — that accords with the aesthetic of the neighborhood theme, my visceral reaction has completely changed.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 14, 2004 9:24 PM