Super bowl commercials still cost a ton and don't add up - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Super bowl commercials still cost a ton and don't add up

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 10:00 am | Updated: 11:43 am, Mon Feb 4, 2013.

A Purdue professor said consumers will still buy Doritos even if they do not watch the Super Bowl commercial.

Richard Feinberg, a professor of consumer sciences and retailing, conducted research two years ago in which he asked 100 consumers what they remember about the Super Bowl commercials between breaks. Approximately 30 percent could accurately recall at least one company with a commercial, but others had no confidence in their memory. Many will remember Betty White being tackled in a Snickers commercial and a talking baby in an E-Trade commercial, but probably not much else.

On Sunday an estimated number of over 100 million viewers will turn on their TV to see the Baltimore Ravens fight against the San Francisco 49ers. But even when fans aren’t screaming at their TV, their laughter and joy will still continue on during the commercials.

Chris Kowal, an assistant professor of consumer sciences and retailing, said the stories within the commercials are probably the reason why people have a hard time remembering them.

“Often the ad is a story that takes us away from the product,” Kowal said. “The ads are entertaining, funny, emotional, but if it does not tie back to the product or brand, then many people forget or don’t even register what the ad is for.”

Consumers also differ in the way they make decisions about what to buy.

“When buying big ticket items, consumers tend to invest time and effort into carefully evaluating and scrutinizing important qualities of that product,” Meghan Norris, an associate professor of consumer sciences and retailing, said. “Ads shown during the Super Bowl rarely have the time to provide the nature of information consumers want before purchasing big ticket items.”

On average, companies will pay around $3.5 million for a short, 30-second spot during the Super Bowl breaks. During regular TV hours, spots cost only about $350,000. Feinberg said it doesn’t make sense economically for companies to pay such a big price tag for a minimal return.

“Since repetition to the right consumer is the foundation of purchases, companies just might be better off with ten $350,000 commercials targeted to specific consumers than one $3.5 million commercial targeted to a lot of consumers,” Feinberg said.

But it seems as though some companies have realized their mistake, and some are now even letting YouTube users to watch their commercials before the actual game.

“It won’t help in consumer memory,” Feinberg said. “If people want to go buy Doritos, they will without seeing the commercial for it.”

Norris said Super Bowl commercials need to broaden their spectrum and realize there are limitations to a short 30-second advertisement.

“Rather than striving for a specific product sale, great Super Bowl ads will give consumers an entertaining and simple short story that can foster positive evaluations of the company,” Norris said.

Sugato Chakravarty, another professor of consumer sciences and retailing, said commercials being funny is good, because it provides the audience with a trigger to remember it later.

“Effective commercials are those that are able to connect with their target audience at a visceral level,” Chakravarty said. “Just glam stuff and technological whiz bang for the sake of it does not work. Sometimes a simple commercial with a well-crafted message can hit home more so than a multi-million dollar mega-production.”

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