Marketers that invested in Super Bowl ads this year will argue that, yes, their multimillion-dollar investment was a smart move.
Especially if you are dog food brand The Farmer's Dog, as it achieved a collective “I am not crying, you are crying” moment during the testosterone-infused event, and ranked number 1 on the USA Today Ad Meter panel. This panel of consumers is nothing more or less than a popularity contest, which is of course important -- even though marketers that scored lower on the ranking will explain that popularity does not equal sales.
These marketers probably look at other rankings, like that of Kellogg School of Business MBAs, who rank on the basis of their strategic academic framework called ADPLAN. Or Forbes, which uses all the rankings to come up with a combined ranking of all rankings.
Spoiler alert: Each source showed a completely different result. You are number one, Farmer's Dog. And you are number one, Google Pixel. And you are also number one, GM/Netflix. And if you want to use the rankings from iSpot, Sprout, CBS or countless others, in the end, nobody loses! Yay!
So back to that all important question: Does being part of the Super Bowl matter for a brand? If you are Dodge RAM and you are looking for a large slice of your target audience because you want to tell them you are finally joining the electric truck offering (arriving in 2024, as the ad clearly stated), perhaps it makes sense as a starting statement. I'm sure the company will follow this up with a campaign in all forms of other media until the actual launch.
All those beer ads? Why buy those ads when by the time you are in front of your screen of choice, the beer is already in the fridge (or gut)? The answer is customer loyalty and brand affirmation. If you are a Busch, Bud Light, Coors or Heineken drinker -- great, they acknowledged you at a time when you were drinking your preferred beer.
I will take issue with celebs outshining the message (who was that Will Ferrell or Sylvester Stallone ad for again?). Especially when the same celeb shows up a few times, shilling for different advertisers (I am looking at you, Serena Williams!). But that is on the marketers, not the celebs.
In the end, TV network executives and advertisers are sighing a collective sigh of relief: Viewer numbers rose for both the Grammys and the Super Bowl. This after a number of years of declines, even during the pandemic when we were forced to be at home and our screens were our only form of entertainment. So it certainly seemed to be a reversal of a trend, and is setting expectations for the Oscars and the Emmys, as well as other upcoming flagship sporting events.
On the face of it, this is of course good news, especially if you are in TV ad sales. It fits with the narrative that live events, sports or otherwise, are the bread and butter of network and cable TV. It also aids CBS’s sales narrative for the 2024 edition of the game. This year the Fox sales price was rumored to be $7 million for a 30-second spot (up from $6.5 million the year before). What do you say, CBS? Do I hear $8 million per spot in 2024?