Analysts Seek 'Aha!' Moment In Super Bowl Advertising

Analysts at HCD Research want to know the exact moment in a Super Bowl advertisement that makes consumers talk about the brand. So, for the second straight year the Flemington, N.J. company has set up a two-part quantitative study to calculate human emotions and measure perceptions for ads that air during the game.

The first part of the survey relies on a panel of ad executives--industry professionals like "Cheers" head writer Stewart Kreisman and professors, such as Arthur Kover, the former editor of the Journal of Advertising Research, and Chan Choi, chair of the marketing department at Rutgers University.

Each will view the commercials during the game, ranking the top 20 advertisements. The winners will appear in a Web survey, and will be sent to nearly 3,000 participants. In this phase, researchers look for consumer perception.

An automated response system will allow consumers to indicate their level of interest in half-second intervals as they watch each commercial. The system requires participating consumers to sit at a computer and move the cursor with a mouse to the left if disinterested, and to the right when interested. Results are averaged for each half second to determine the segments that generate the highest and lowest interest levels.



The survey will base 50% of the results on findings from the automated response system, with the remainder split in half between consumer emotion and the likelihood of mentioning the ad the day after the Super Bowl. Results will be posted at Monday morning.

"Most commercials that air during the Super Bowl don't sell anything," says Glenn Kessler, HCD president. "They are done just for entertainment value. They get consumers to remember and mention the sponsors' names the day after, rather than move them to immediately buy something."

Advertisers will spend an unprecedented $2.7 million to secure one 30-second spot during the Super Bowl that an estimated 142 million viewers will watch, according to the Kellogg School of Management. The school suggests that surveys indicate as many as 34% of men and 68% of women enjoy game-day ads more than the actual game itself.

HCD isn't the only company looking to unlock the secrets behind Super Bowl ads. Firebrand, which claims to run the hottest spots from the coolest brands on TV, Web and mobile, plans to launch its own quantitative analysis to find the best ads. The day after the Super Bowl, consumers can go to to view and vote for their favorite commercials that aired during the game.

The top vote-getter will receive the first annual Firebrand Water Cooler trophy, a tongue-in-cheek award to recognize the most talked about commercials the day after the game. "To the ad industry, Monday after the game is the biggest day because that day everyone talks about the brands that ran commercials on Sunday," says Firebrand CMO Shari F. Leventhal.

Voting for the Firebrand Water Cooler promotion opens Feb. 4, and closes Feb 11. Those who vote during the one-week campaign are entered into a drawing to win a cash prize. Firebrand will award one winner $5,000, and five second-place winners receive $1,000.

Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, Firebrand will launch its first national ad campaign, a series of TV spots on cable networks MTV, G4, Sci Fi and VH1, as well as online videos at, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, among others. The TV spots will begin on Monday with "Big Time Athletes."

In December, Firebrand Creative Director Stacy Van Wickler began writing and working with the company's in-house creative team and outside production company PMCD to produce three 30-second spots and a two-minute viral video.

The multimillion-dollar ad campaign depicts characters in football huddles, strategizing in the locker room in an effort to win the big game. The spots feature a parody of some of the most popular commercial icons, including Mr. Clean, Mr. Peanut and the Cavemen, among others.

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