Super Bowl Ads – 3 Trends for 2013


February 1, 2013

A full shopping cart and a slightly depleted bank account later, you’ve got everything you need. While you’re unloading the tortilla chips, frozen chicken wings, and veggie party trays, you’re still recovering from the madhouse that was Costco before Super Bowl Sunday.

The big game is this weekend. Between all the “WackoForFlacco” and “QuestForSix” hashtags, Super Bowl XLVII is definitely going to be one to remember. Yet, if I were to ask you which team won the Super Bowl two years ago, could you tell me? What about in ‘95? Or how about back in 1984? Any takers?

My guess is that only the most enthusiastic and avid NFL fans could give me the correct answers, but I’m sure the majority of you will fondly recall some of the most famous Super Bowl commercials. Two years ago, Volkswagen made us all smile with childhood nostalgia as we chuckled at the little Vader in “The Force.” 1995 brought the Budweiser frogs, and the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII marked the year that Apple blew everyone’s mind with their revolutionary advertising masterpiece, “1984.” With that being said, it’s pretty obvious that the Super Bowl has become a battle ground for another type of competition—advertising.

What isn’t left on the field is seen in short, but resonating TV commercials. These insanely high-priced ad campaigns, which now run about $4 million for 30 seconds of air time, deliver branded messages into the homes of millions of viewers. But are they worth it?

Absolutely. Last year, 111.3 million people tuned in for the big game. Super Bowl 2012 marked the seventh straight year in which more people watched the game than the year before. Therefore, each new Super Bowl typically becomes the most watched television event in American history. Is 2013 going to be any different? Probably not.

While the amount of viewers is sure to be some astronomically high percentage of the total population, 2013 is a little different. These three trends set this year’s Super Bowl ads apart:

1. Viewer Engagement

Since many marketers invest a large portion of their advertising budget into these TV spots, it’s not always a one and done kind of campaign. Companies are now releasing online teasers and asking for viewer input before the full ad airs during the game, like the CokeChase campaign. Audi even released its “Prom – Worth It” ad, and then allowed viewers choose one of three possible endings for its Super Bowl spot by voting online on January 25th.

2. Longer Commercials

Last year, Chrysler paid a whopping $14 million to run the two-minute, “It’s Halftime in America.” Compared to the standard 30-second commercial, this ad was lengthy to say the least. However, this year, more ads are expected to run longer in an attempt to stand out. “Nearly 20 percent of this year’s ads will go on for one minute or longer” according to the Los Angeles Times.

3. Going Mobile

Given that many people tune into the Super Bowl for the commercials or half-time show, savvy marketers are using their ads to engage those who aren’t fixated on the TV, but most likely have their smartphone or tablet in front of them instead. Target has taken a risky, but innovative approach—they will not run a TV spot during the game. Instead, they’ve released the Snack Bowl mobile app. This virtual living room allows players to fling food—specific brands mind you—into the mouths of characters. Subliminal advertising anyone?

In the end, the true winner of the Super Bowl won’t be the Ravens or the 49ers, it will be the brand with the most memorable commercial. So don’t be ashamed if you’re one of those avid Super Bowl fans who secretly watches the big game for the commercials—it is advertising money well-spent.