The New Extended Life of Super Bowl Commercials

football in foreground for super bowlIn the world of advertising, perhaps no event is as highly touted as the Super Bowl — or at least its commercials. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 190 million were expected to tune into the Super Bowl this year, making the four-hour event a prime venue for advertisers. And unlike most events where many viewers use modern technology to fast-forward through annoying advertisements, Super Bowl advertisers have an eager audience. In fact, the NRF reports that 17.7 percent — about 43 million people — say the commercials are the primary reason they watch the game. All that access comes at a price, of course. A 30-second TV spot is expected to cost about $5 million dollars this year.

That’s a big investment, so it shouldn’t be surprising that many advertisers are trading the surprise factor of revealing their big ads during the big game in exchange for prolonged exposure. Skittles is one of many companies choosing to release its ads well in advance of the Super Bowl.

Savvy marketers are finding ways to get noticed before, during and after the big event, using various online channels and social media to get media attention and publicity. By leaking their ads early on Facebook, Twitter, their company website or any other medium, advertisers are not only drawing audiences to their online presence, but also reaching potentially millions of individuals who might not have otherwise seen their ads —because they don’t watch the Super Bowl, don’t watch TV or any other reason.

Even now that the Super Bowl is already fading into the past, the ads from the event are still getting traction in online forums, trade publications and social media feeds.

The content of Super Bowl ads gets ratcheted up almost every year with hilarious and ground-breaking 30-second shorts. Now, however, we’re witnessing the evolution of the delivery of that content through the use of social media and a company’s ever-important online presence. And, as PR pundits have said for years, even negative coverage can be better than no coverage at all when it comes to raising awareness for a brand.

With such a massive audience and huge cost associated with commercial slots, it’s not surprising that advertisers are getting creative with not only their ad content but also the timing and channels of their content delivery. With the stakes so high, the Super Bowl has frequently been a testing ground for new ideas and strategies, and this year is showing us an entirely new dimension of this ingenuity.

Despite the cost and despite the migration away from traditional media in many cases, events like the Super Bowl are likely to continue to command high prices for the opportunity to not only gain a 30-second spot within the broadcast, but to gain the value of leveraging that spot before and after the event.

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