It is Super Bowl time in the United States – a day on which 110 million viewers will be glued to their TV sets for the most important game on the American sporting calendar.
And during the breaks a raft of 30 and 60 second commercials will be flighted at an average cost of $4 million (R44 million) for half a minute of airtime.
In theory this sounds wonderful – a massive audience and commercials, all specially created for the event, to add to the entertainment.
In practice, however, there is very little logical marketing strategy involved in all of this but there is a massive amount of corporate ego in the mix.
Research studies quoted by a number of analysts in the USA suggest that on average, about 78% of TV viewers say they are not particularly interested in the Super Bowl advertising.
Other research shows that 82% of Americans don’t actually watch commercial breaks.
However, there is no doubt that the mass media – radio, TV, online and newspapers not only in the USA but worldwide, will be dissecting the Super Bowl ads, ranking them in terms of best and worst and generally adding a huge amount of exposure to the commercials themselves.
But, when it comes to raising ROI data on these ads, the outcomes are all pretty horrendous. Yes, they’re getting noticed, yes they’re getting ‘liked’, but because there are so many of them, so much clutter and most importantly because of the intensity of the passion for this great game among viewers, most messages will not be remembered and probably not even noticed.
Most of the advertisers have already admitted that this is more of an awareness exercise than something actually intended to sell products.
Awareness of what? Of products? Of brands?
That just doesn’t make sense at all because if you look at who is advertising, the vast majority of these brands already have 100% awareness of what they do and what they produce.
A simple audit of any one of those big brand Super Bowl commercials will show the vast portion of that ad spend is completely wasted.
It is nothing more than an exercise in corporate egoism; bosses of big brands terrified of missing out. Wanting to be there. Wanting their friends, families and foes to see them strutting their stuff during the commercial breaks.
But, thank goodness for corporate egos, because without them the global mass media would probably lose something like 20% to 30% of their revenue.
Even here in South Africa, one can see it on an almost daily basis. Advertising created solely to assuage corporate egos. TV commercials that are massively entertaining but don’t make sense because no one can really remember what the brand was because it was only given a fleeting mention at the end of the ad.
Supplements, corporate profiles and inserts in newspapers and business magazines that no one reads, but they do give the bosses and brand custodians a nice warm feeling. One can even see it in government advertising with the major part of a full page newspaper ad taken up with a picture of the relevant minister smiling benevolently.
I am convinced that more often that not, government departments have to make the minister’s picture big enough to appeal to his or her ego, otherwise they would not get the go ahead to advertise in the first place.
Having said that, the amount of money wasted on stupid, egoistic advertising in government is minute compared to the billions of rands that are invested in corporate egos every year.
Which always makes me laugh when business leaders complain about government wasting money. Government is amateurish by comparison.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk