I’ll admit it: I like to watch football, I like M&M’s, and I also like Danny DeVito. Lucky for me, I’ll get my fix of all three as I watch the big game this Sunday.
As a professor of Advertising & Marketing Communications at Johnson & Wales University Providence Campus, as well as the JWU College of Online Education, I’ll be watching the 50-plus brands being advertised in this year’s game just as closely as the big game itself.
There’s a lot on the line—and not just for the teams playing.
Starting with the game itself, the members of the winning team will receive $105,000 each, plus bonuses for winning playoff games—that’s over $200,000 for each player.
But the big payday will be for NBC who is getting $5 million for a 30-second commercial.
They’ve sold all of the available inventory and reportedly will rake in $500 million for the day.
But what about the advertisers who invested $5 million?
If you’re M&M’s, that’s a lot of bags of candy you need to sell just to break even for one commercial (a fact of which, I would think, they are abundantly aware).
So, how does this add up?
Advertisers are buying ‘eyeballs’ when they run their commercials. An estimated 110 million viewers will be watching the game and the ads. Brands are betting that viewers would be more likely to have a positive opinion or even purchase their product because they saw their ad on game day.
The truth is that there’s little proof that viewers actually purchase the products being advertised. According to Statista, only 8 percent of those who watched commercials said they were influenced to purchase them.
(Click to expand the Infographic.)
Making a Good Impression
There are those who argue that the viewers are tuned in understate the real audience—or in advertising parlance, the number of “impressions,” meaning the number times an ad is seen by a consumer.
There is some truth to this, and marketers are taking note.
In a report last year by the New York Times, marketers are shelving out at least 25 percent of their total budget for the ad (that would be adding a nifty $1 million to the $5 million price tag) to market it.
That’s right: They are advertising their advertising.
The hype is seen through social media channels such as YouTube, where viewers can watch the commercials before the game and are nudged to vote for their favorites, and Facebook, where commercials are released early through the brands’ fan pages.
Last year, according to Newsday, there were 36 ads released pre-game, most in the week leading to the big game.
The Products Don’t Sell Themselves
Don’t forget, there’s also the cost of producing the ads, which averages another $1 million. Production costs include hiring celebrities like this year’s big names: Danny DeVito (M&M’s), and Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman (Doritos and Mountain Dew), Matt Damon (Stella Artois), Bill Hader (Pringles), and Cindy Crawford (Pepsi).
When marketers are asked to justify all these costs, metrics such as brand equity, brand favorability, and brand lift are commonly used, but seldom are actual sales mentioned.
Perhaps it is just as well. I like Danny DeVito, and I eat M&M’s. It is not entirely impossible that I could be eating a few more bags while watching the game.