Super Bowl Scores Again

Super Game and Super Ads

With this year's post-game buzz centered on the half-time show-all and the exciting game, advertisers might have believed that Super Bowl XXXVIII didn't deliver the hype of previous years, but the data show that some advertisers made the most of their $2.25 million moment.

Ipsos-ASI has been conducting post game polls for the past three years that compare advertisement recall among men watching the Super Bowl with advertisement recall among men watching other key football games. Again this year, the results show that the Super Bowl is an unparalleled advertising event that promises huge, attentive audiences and offers advertisers a unique opportunity to communicate with hard-to-reach male viewers.

One aspect of the Super Bowl's appeal for advertisers is viewer behavior. The Super Bowl is an entertainment event that attracts not only football enthusiasts (63% of male viewers), but also those who only occasionally watch football (37% of male viewers). While most people watch the Super Bowl, as well as other key football games from home, the Super Bowl is twice as likely to be viewed from someone else's home compared to those other games. Most people watched this year's Super Bowl with about six other people, which is consistent with previous Super Bowl data.

Further, the Super Bowl audience is more attentive to the commercials. Significantly more people watch the advertisements during the Super Bowl than during other important football games. This year, 46% of survey respondents claimed to have watched all commercials during the Super Bowl (compared to 37% who watched all the commercials during the 2003 Super Bowl), while only 12% watched all the commercials during the Sugar Bowl, and just 9% watched all the commercials during the NFC Championship game.

To capitalize on the unique viewer behavior and attentiveness, and justify the enormous expense of a Super bowl time slot, advertisers need to deliver a winning commercial. To this end, the Super Bowl has become a veritable advertising festival, complete with premieres, events, launches, superstars and celebrities. The media spends considerable time and attention to pre-game hype and post-game critiques of Super Bowl advertisements. But the data found that hype doesn't affect memorability--and an effective, successful ad is one that viewers remember.

This year, 89% of survey respondents could remember without prompting the name of at least one of the advertisers in the Super Bowl, compared with only 46% and 43% who remembered an advertiser from the Sugar Bowl or from the NFC Championship game, respectively. The average male viewer could remember unaided 3.5 advertisers in the Super Bowl, the same as in previous years, while male viewers remembered an average of only one advertiser for the Sugar Bowl and NFC Championship games.

Once again Budweiser and Pepsi were the top two most-remembered advertisers, followed by Cadillac, AOL, Chevrolet, and Ford. While the biggest spenders topped the male viewer lists, the most remembered also included several "one ad wonders" (advertisers who only aired one ad during the Super Bowl); Lays, 7-Up, FedEx and IBM.

These scores show how by creating memorable advertising--not necessarily the most popular, funniest, expensive or most-hyped--advertisers continue to get their money's worth out of this increasingly important once-a-year opportunity.

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