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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

A 30-second spot during the Super Bowl will cost around $4 million. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Super Bowl ads will fuel water cooler talk


Throughout the history of the NFL, the Super Bowl has evolved. In its humble beginnings, it was more about the game than it was about the spectacle it has become.

Musical performances, pyrotechnics, fan experiences and heavy promotion are now parts of what we've come to know as Super Bowl Sunday.

As far as media is concerned, the sports coverage hasn't really changed — there is just more of it. What has changed, more significantly, has been the advertising.

There is nothing better than a live event to bring the most eyeballs upon a single or multiple screens. We have evolved to the point of not just watching the game on TV but are now also interacting with others by use of computer, cell phones and tablets. Savvy marketers who stay one step ahead of the viewing public are so keyed into this that they purposefully leak parts of the advertising campaign on social and digital platforms.

The advertisements themselves have gone from simply serving as campaign launches to ads made specifically for the game. More than half of the commercials that air on Sunday will not be seen again. This move goes against what most marketers and TV critics will tell you about the value of creating an ad for such a high profile event.

The Super Bowl was once seen as the place to launch a campaign, but because of how large it has become, marketers must do something special to get the viewer to notice and retain what just took place.

More than half of the ads that run on Sunday will be forgotten.

"And once again corporations will invest $4 million to put their 30-second spot in front of that audience – the most expensive spots and biggest gambit in the history of advertising," said Brian Bennett, owner of Stir, a marketing firm in Milwaukee.

The gamble is whether the brand, product or service will be remembered without getting lost in the entertainment value of the ad itself. Unfortunately, many advertisers will just follow the trends when making an ad.

"One year, babies were really popular," Bennett said. "Then later, ads with dogs performed really well. Now, we will probably see ads with babies and dogs … and Clydesdales.

"We will see an over-sexed ad using super models, and this year there will be a lot of celebrities."

What Bennett is referring to is the trend we see from advertisers like Go Daddy that had the kiss between the supermodel and the overweight nerdy kid. It was meant to make us feel uncomfortable, and that's why we remember it.

In some of the ads that have been leaked, we know that celebrities are going to play a larger role. John Stamos, the pitch man for Dannon's Greek yogurt line, will be reuniting with some of his "Full House" cast mates in a series of spots. Scarlett Johansson will be featured in an ad for Soda Stream, the company that wants all of us to give up our Coke and Pepsi.

"This is the one annual event in which viewers actively seek out and judge advertising. The rest of the year, it's a bit of an intrusion," Bennett wrote on his latest blog.

"And so, smart advertisers pull out all the stops to please the audience and achieve the coveted positive 'water cooler' review on Monday."

Speaking of Monday, I will join the crew at "Real Milwaukee" on WITI-TV Fox 6 at 9 a.m. We will be going over the hits and misses of those ads and discuss what you'll be talking about around your water cooler.

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