With the 2011 Superbowl in the books, there are many of us who are still talking about it. However, we are not dissecting the main plays and identifying the players who made a difference on the field by helping their team win the championship. No, we are still discussing another, perhaps, bigger battle: the competition we know as the AdBowl.
Without a doubt, the Superbowl ads are one of the main attractions of the yearly event (that and the consumption of guacamole on a grand scale, of course). Brands from a handful of industries spend exorbitant amounts of money to get a brief piece of the coveted audience prime real estate. Some of the ads are funny (the Doritos ones), some are emotive (Chrysler with the Motor City), some of them are borderline raunchy (GoDaddy.com) and some are just plain inappropriate and counterproductive (Groupon).
The objective of this post, however, is not to assess the ads and determine the winners and losers (but just for the record, I really enjoyed the VW Darth Vader one). Many websites have already done that. After watching the ads showcased on SuperSunday, I reflected on their real effect on the consumers, the acquisition of new market share and, more importantly, whether or not they had a significant effect on consumption patterns.
Here is what I concluded: I don’t think that companies get good value for the money they invested. I don’t think SuperBowl ads help in sales conversion and long term revenue generation. There, I said it.
Now, you may want to argue that if companies didn’t get a positive return on their investment, they simply would not spend the money. And that is a fair point. But hear me out for a second. In terms of brand awareness, I think that if the companies are able to advertise during the Superbowl it is because they are already known, worldwide brands. Really, had you never heard of Coca-cola, Pepsi, Chrysler, Ford or Doritos before yesterday?
About the acquisition of new market share, most of the products advertised have a long term relationship with their consumer base and it would be hard for a TV ad to “convert” those who are not already loyal to a product. Would you go out there and buy Chrysler vehicle based entirely on the cool Eminem commercial? Or would you change the beer brand you have been drinking for years because of the funny dude organizing a party with the dogs he is “sitting” in the Bud Light ad? Maybe you would, but I am certain that most people will not.
Call me an idealist but I still think that the purchase decision for most people will lean towards those products and brands that have earned their trust. People will still consume those quality products that they have tried and felt comfortable with. People will stick with those brands they grew up with and watched their parents use, or to those that their buddy told them to try. I strongly believe the power is now with the people and that, through referrals, recommendations and reviews, social media provides a better chance for success for those companies with strong customer service and great products. Times have changed. The best marketing and word of mouth does not come from within the organizations anymore. We are the ones who determine who is good, who is bad and who disserves our money. We are the ones who determined the winner of the 2011 AdBowl. This is our time and it is now.
PS. The ads are still fun and I will continue to watch them next year.