The firm says that return on investment is really consequent to how well the spectacle and demographic appeal of the game fits a brand's equity and target.
The score, finally, is based upon "Return-On-Equity," which measures the level of engagement between the media environment and the advertised brand.
"Think of it as identifying how the media environment reinforces--or in some cases degrades--brand values," Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, tells Marketing Daily. "What you want to see is a minimum of plus-seven points to your brand to ensure you're getting a real return on the effort."
And if the firm's sixth annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey is accurate, several of the 26 or so brands shelling out to play in the Super Bowl have numbers so far below that they might have done better to spend their money in Reno.
Passikoff explains that the company arrives at engagement metrics by comparing a numerical benchmark measure of brand's benchmark equity to a second score based on survey queries associating that brand with a particular media environment, such as the Super Bowl. "We compare it to where the brand was absent of any media context; it has to do with whether the brand values are reinforced by the media's values."
By way of example, he spotlights last year's Super Bowl ad for Lilly's Cialis erectile dysfunction medicine. "That was clearly a bad mistake," says Passikoff. "I know their logic at the time was that it's an event that men and women are watching together. But it's not a situation where, during the Super Bowl party, your wife is going to look at you and say, 'Well, here's something you might take'."
Per the survey, a national sample of 1,200 men and women, 18-65 years of age, who indicated a strong likelihood to watch Super Bowl XLII, the odds-on favorites for best ROI for Super Bowl media are Doritos, Pepsi, Budweiser, Coke and Toyota.
The firm gave all of those brands at least a seven-point increase in brand equity, which "always results in increased engagement," per the firm--which says such scores suggest viewers will pay more attention to the advertising, think better of the product and actually go out and buy the advertised product.
At the other end of the spectrum: Rookie Victoria's Secret, Ford and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"Brands that work are the usual suspects: beer, snacks, fast food, the kinds of things for parties, for the tailgate environment," says Passikoff. "Ancillary entertainment stuff also does very well."
The firm also predicts first-time Bowl advertiser Audi will have made a mistake, assigning a minus three score for the Audi/Super Bowl association. Hyundai, which has pulled out, also garnered poor scores.
Says Passikoff: "When you spend $2.6 million on an ad spot, you want to make sure that you are getting a real return. Otherwise, why do it?"