SuperBowl Commercials: New Marketing Trend?

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Around this time of year, not only can we all excitedly anticipate the top two NFL football teams of the season battling it out on the field in hopes of winning the Vince Lombardi trophy, but for once we don’t complain about those all-too-often commercial breaks. The 60-70 half-minute slots throughout the course of the Super Bowl are some of the most awaited pieces of advertising, and like most years, the commercials during Super Bowl XLIX did not disappoint. Each 30 second slot this year, according to Wall Street Journal, set a company back about $4.5 million, or $150,000 per second. So why do companies spend absurd amounts on these 30 second commercials during the Super Bowl? That answer is simple: because over 100 million people live-watch the game. Companies make a memorable commercial and now they have 100 million people talking about it the next day.

This particular year, however, brought to light the latest trend in television marketing. Of course there were the comedic advertisements which we always greatly look forward to, such as Fiat’s commercial featuring a 500x Crossover that popped a Viagra pill, and the Esurance commercial starring Brian Cranston as Walter White from AMCs “Breaking Bad.” But what we saw in a greater majority were advertisements designed to make you “feel” something. To name a few, the ad for Always attempting to redefine the phrase “like a girl,” Budweiser’s “best buddies” commercial where the puppy gets lost and the Clydesdale comes to save the day, and the Domestic Violence PSA featuring a woman’s call to 911 disguised as her ordering a pizza. Perhaps the most controversial commercial in that category is one by Nationwide: the “Boy Can’t Grow” ad which shows a young boy lamenting about all of the things that he will miss in life, because as we find out at the end of the commercial, he has died.

An article in Forbes Magazine quotes Derek Rucker, a professor in marketing at Kellogg School of Management in Illinois: “There were lots of ads trying to pull at heartstrings with different levels of success. There was less of your funny, humorous, in-your-face advertising [in this game], and clearly a lot more emotional advertising. That was interesting to see.” (Forbes.com). This new marketing trend begs the question, are these types of advertisements appropriate for Super Bowl audiences? That, too, is a hot topic right now. Some may feel as though these commercials are not suitable for the party mode the viewers are in before and during the game, but others may like knowing that the companies took advantage of these crazy expensive 30-second slots to address popular issues prevalent in society.

Even with no personal interest in the teams competing in the Super Bowl, people will still excitedly turn their TV’s on just to watch the commercials. For weeks, months and years to come, people will still be awe-struck about the fact that Malcolm Butler’s miraculous goal-line interception in the last 26 seconds of the game was quite literally a game-changer. Not only that, but this year’s commercials won’t be easily forgotten either. Whether it is the ones that made you laugh, made you cry, or made you question what just happened and why this strange guy Jeff was “ohm”-ing next to someone’s bed for 30 seconds, it is safe to say the $4.5 million was money well-spent.

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