Jan 24 2014, 2:15am CST | by Forbes
This article is by Jeri Smith, president & CEO of Communicus, an advertising research firm that specializes in isolating the impact of advertising and integrated communications campaigns on brands. She has spent more than 20 years at Communicus; previously she spent 15 years at DDB, leading consumer research, planning and marketing information services units./>
At $4 million per 30-second spot, there’s more riding on Super Bowl XLVIII than just the outcome of the football game. With research showing that only 20% of the commercials moved the needle for brands last year, that’s a lot of marketing budget at risk of being wasted. Here’s what historical data tell us about who’s likely to score – or not – with their sizable investments on February 2.
Celebrities are a Super Bowl ad staple. But if the personality has no connection with the brand and the ad doesn’t quickly create a meaningful link, the celebrity thunder thief steals the show but fails to sell the brand.
Thanks in part to a 2012 Super Bowl ad launching the David Beckham Bodywear line, Beckham is firmly linked to H&M. That year, data showed the retailer outperformed most other commercials in generating tangible gains in consumer intention. This year, viewers who own certain Samsung smart TVs will be able to purchase directly from the ad, thanks to Delivery Agent’s technology. This will undoubtedly generate great publicity for IPO-bound Delivery Agent, but H&M needs to sell apparel. The data suggest that, as long as they retain focus on their marketing objectives, H&M’s ad will again build sales and store traffic, and position the brand favorably.
Last year, with a highly engaging commercial titled “Brotherhood,” Budweiser successfully built favorability among adult game viewers. The brand should score again this year with a similar approach, this time focusing on the relationship between a puppy and one of Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales.
Data show that a Super Bowl ad buy, while expensive, is one of the best places to generate broad-based awareness for a new product. If Butterfinger can stoke hunger for their new Peanut Butter Cups, not getting carried away with the ad’s innuendo-laden gag about peanuts and chocolate in couples’ therapy, the safe prediction is that they will be among the big winners in 2014.
This brand, new to the Super Bowl, faces the same problem that plagues many known brands that invest in the big game: Unless you’ve got Clydesdales (or maybe puppies) on your team, it’s difficult for established brands to move the needle in brand attitudes or behaviors with a single spot – even a controversial or entertaining one.
In 2012, John Stamos stole the show from Dannon Oikos’ yogurt. The result: very low brand awareness and no positive impact on the brand. They sat out the 2013 Super Bowl. The teaser for 2014’s ad, featuring a “Full House” mini-reunion, suggests that celebrities will be even more distracting from the product this year.
Because Scarlett Johansson has only recently been announced as their ad star, she isn’t yet linked to SodaStream in consumers’ minds. The key will be to weave her into a brand-focused story that produces interest in buying a SodaStream unit. Last year, SodaStream used a controversial approach (blowing up Coke and Pepsi bottles) that generated publicity but failed to ignite strong consumer interest.
In 2012 and 2013, the keys to success for auto brands were either to be really different (Chrysler’s 2012 “It’s Halftime America,” Dodge’s “Farmer” and Jeep’s “Whole Again”) or to have news, and to communicate it clearly, as Mercedes did in announcing the CLA model in 2013. In 2014, Audi is using a provocative approach to generate attention for the new A3. But the teasers released don’t suggest that a strong link will be made between the creative and the brand. But Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America, tells me the brand is focused on “driving consumers online to view, share and discuss the spot.” Audi’s knack for social media integration could help them pull out a win on Super Bowl Sunday.
Go Daddy rightly credits the Super Bowl with putting the brand on the map. However, after nine consecutive Super Bowl appearances, the effectiveness of their campaign has waned. This year, the brand is refocusing in an entertaining commercial that continues with Danica Patrick and the GoDaddy feisty personality, but tells a story designed to resonate with their small-business-owner target. It might just be what they need to get back in the winners column.
While everyone loves to be entertained, the data clearly direct these advertisers to have laser focus on ROI. With such considerable investments in their Super Bowl commercials, only a game plan that balances entertainment and persuasion will lead to victory.
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