The quick answer to that question is: No, you didn’t. Why? Because we didn’t air one. That’s not to say that some of the ads truly helped their brands. But alas, for our clients, the $5 million for a :30 national spot was not deemed to be the most effective use of their 2017 media budget by the experts here at SPM.

That said, it was a great game—possibly one of the most amazing Super Bowl’s we’ve seen in a long time. With nothing less than an amazing comeback and the first ever Super Bowl overtime that culminated in another accolade for 39-year-old Tom Brady. It’s exhausting just thinking about all the excitement!

No Wardrobe Malfunctions or Puppy Monkey Babies?

Even this year’s half-time show met, if not surpassed, the typical network announcer over-hype. And while most of us expected a Lady Gaga “meat suit-like” performance and major political statement during her show, it just didn’t happen. It was well done, entertaining and featured her amazing talents.

Instead, this year’s political statements weren’t made at halftime. They were made during commercial breaks. Where last year’s spots featured the silliness of a Puppy-Monkey-Baby, 2017 launched directly into highly emotive commercials that took a clear stand on the side of equal rights, and the diversity that makes up the fabric of the America.

An anthemic Coke commercial stirred emotions. Audi took on gender inequality head-on. The all-American Budweiser shared an immigrant’s story. Not to mention 84 Lumber’s controversial take on the subject, which turns out wasn’t even their intent. Still, the ad drew over 6 million visits to their website and counting. That’s over 6 million hits to a building supply website… a website that, up until today, had videos with views generally less than 1,000!

And in last night’s environment, even the typical bikini-clad supermodel and the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie seemed out of place… almost.

So does $5 million for :30 make sense?

Maybe.

For Lumber 84, they not only got attention but also engagement from a broader audience than they’ve probably ever reached before. With over 6 million new visitors to their site, that $5 million investment probably has a pretty good initial payout. And yet, 84 Lumber’s ad was mostly misconstrued, and people assumed it took a political stance that it actually didn’t.

It all depends on the marketing objective, the level of risk you’re willing to take, and the clarity of your message or statement you are going to make.

Take the American Petroleum Institute’s first Super Bowl ad ever. The objective seemed to be clear: There is an unknown reality to the positive impact many petroleum-based products deliver. Yet, in this political climate and amid a series of ads like Coke’s or Budweiser’s, the “This ain’t your daddy’s oil” seemed unclear, inappropriate, and poorly timed. Their message missed the mark and came across as a negative reminder of a seemingly non-human, big oil political lobby group force-feeding its agenda to as many people as they could tell it to. All that said, they could probably afford to take that risk.

The Power of Brand

This year, more than most years, the majority of brands used the Super Bowl as a venue to take a clear stand on topics they felt were important to them, their core customers, and prospects. There was a clear move away from individual product advertising and towards a focus on a larger brand story and purpose.

Of course, companies are advertising in hopes that you’ll buy their products. But great advertising goes beyond individual features and benefits, and connects on a more individual relationship level to affect human behavior. That starts with having a clear understanding of what is true, meaningful, and unique to your brand, and what matters most the people you value most—your customers.

Once you understand these keys, delivering a powerful message becomes less risky and more engaging. And this is true whether you’re selling beer at the Super Bowl or healthcare, not at the Super Bowl.

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Bill Tourlas

Bill Tourlas

SVP, Innovation & Engagement at SPM Marketing & Communications
With 30 years of experience, Bill is a recent addition to SPM’s ever-growing firepower. As a member of the leadership team, he drives the agency’s efforts to consistently reach new levels of innovation and engagement and to bring the full power of our ideas to life across traditional and new media channels. In his role, Bill collaborates with strategy, creative, and media teams for existing clients and is an active participant in new business efforts.
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