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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Brand Spanking Brilliance

Super Bowl ads have come a long way. A quick rundown on Wikipedia shows that the cost for an ad during Super Bowl I in 1967 was $42,000. Adjusted for inflation, that price is somewhere near a 1/10th of the cost for an ad today, which is $3 million. Super Bowl ads are like the Black Friday of the marketing world. You spend a hell of a lot of money on an ad, hoping it is clever and brilliant enough to catch the audience’s attention. More often than not, the ad you see during the Super Bowl is never played again.

With the advent of online video sites like YouTube, these ads can live on forever giving a huge ROI for their initial cost to air during the game. In fact, most people don’t see half the ads because of bathroom breaks or beer runs to the fridge. How many times have you gone to refill your plate of nachos only to hear the laughter from the other room indicating that you missed a comical ad? Most catch it the next day online. If the airing of the Super Bowl ad itself is like Black Friday, then the following day is Cyber Monday. Most IT geeks loathe this as their company bandwidth gets sucked dry by employees surfing for and watching ads.

Every news outlet and online blog picks the winners and losers of the night like they were Cojo judging the red carpet fashions from award shows. Websites get revenue dollars from surfers looking for ads while the products themselves get dollars from people clamoring to see the ads. Probably the most notable ad was the Orwellian Apple ad during Super Bowl XVIII. Others are continuing themes in a series of ads that span years like the horses playing football for Anheuser-Busch or the Budweiser Frogs and Lizards. More recent series of ads, that drive viewer expectation, are the racy ones from

With the country in an economic slump, some people might wonder how a company can realistically pay such a high price for an ad when there are financial obligations to be met to their bottom line? To that end, I applaud Miller High Life for buying up one second of air time for their ads. Ok, so I stole the story from The Consumerist. However, instead of just regurgitating what the article states like some area reporters during the tech segments of the local news, I am just using the topic as a springboard.

What do I think about this campaign? To quote Guinness from their Super Bowl ads, “Brilliant!” This does raise some questions, though. Does MillerCoors have to pay for the full 30 seconds or can they pay $100k for one? Will YouTube take longer to load the ad than it does to play it? Will those with slow connections find the effect less than satisfying? Could this be the trend of the recession? Great ad, less money. If every advertiser jumped on the band wagon and produced a one second ad and then ran them back to back during commercial breaks would there be an outbreak of seizures from the mass amount of information flashing on the screen?

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