Back in the day – say, 1984 – Super Bowl ads were an excellent surprise.
That classic Apple commercial launched the Golden Age of Adstravaganzas, with the spots reaching for new levels of creativity and impact.
Nowadays, though, Super Bowl ads are more like the booby prize, thanks to all the pre-game hype and the hyper-analysis attached to the Super Bawling.
This piece by New York Times ad columnist Stuart Elliott, which examines the return of H&M (and David Beckham) to the Big Game after a year’s absence, illustrates some of the microscopic attention Super Bowl ads are now getting.
Several surveys released this week suggest little anticipation among consumers for another H&M commercial. For example, the 12th annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey by Brand Keys, a research consultancy in New York, described H&M as among the “ad underdogs” because it was one of eight sponsors with low engagement, which includes interest, among respondents.
And then there’s this:
Also, H&M is not among the top 10 Super Bowl advertisers being talked about before the game, according to data from Blab, a Seattle company that monitors social media in real time.
In a relatively new twist, more and more of the SB ads are getting their own ads – teasers that lead up to the Big Game spot, such as this one for Bud Light.
Volkswagen makes fun of the whole scientific approach to the Super Spots in its own teaser.
As the Times piece points out, the Holy Grail is the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter that runs the next day. At one time, Anheuser-Busch would produce dozens of TV spots, convene a focus group with the same essential makeup as the USA Today panel, and see which ads tested best. Those were the ones A-B would run on the Super Bowl broadcast. (Not sure if the beermaker still does that, but would’t be surprised.)
Regardless, the whole exercise is becoming more of a test-tube experiment than a marketing adventure. Maybe that’s why a recent study by the research group Communicus found that only one in five Super Bowl ads actually sells products. They’re far too busy selling the ads for something as mundane as that.