- 1 The Impact of 2021 Super Bowl Ads on ROI
The Impact of 2021 Super Bowl Ads on ROI
In a span of less than four hours, 65 commercials, each costing an average of $5.6 million for a 30-second slot, were broadcasted to an audience of 91.5 million viewers during Super Bowl LV. This data, provided by the market-research firm Kantar Group, underscores the immense financial commitment associated with Super Bowl advertising. The grand total spent on commercials during the 2021 Super Bowl reached an estimated staggering $485 million.
Assessing the Performance of Super Bowl Ads
The pressing question emerges: were these ads truly worth their hefty price tags? Derek Rucker, a distinguished marketing professor at Northwestern University and a seasoned evaluator of Super Bowl ads through the Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review, acknowledges the challenge of precisely gauging return on investment in the marketing realm.
However, Dr. Rucker suggests that there is empirical evidence pointing toward the positive impact of Super Bowl ads on businesses. An exemplar case is that of the startup Death Wish Coffee, which experienced a substantial surge in sales following a 2016 Super Bowl ad. The commercial catalyzed such a significant increase in demand that the company had to relocate to a space almost three times larger than its original facility.
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Evidential Support for Super Bowl Ads
Research conducted by Stanford University and Humboldt University delves further into the matter. The study, which focused on established brands such as Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi, revealed a notable surge in revenue ranging between 10% to 15% per household during the eight weeks following Super Bowl ads. However, this boost is conditional; it is nullified if a competitor advertises during the same game, leading to potential losses rather than gains.
Unveiling the Standouts of Super Bowl Ads
The Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review’s standout choice among this year’s ads was a Cheetos commercial. This 60-second spot featured actress Mila Kunis playfully leaving orange fingerprints while sneaking Cheetos to her real-life husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, in a clever parody of the reggae hit “It Wasn’t Me.”
Dr. Rucker emphasizes the brilliance of this ad, stating, “They transformed a potential negative—dirty fingers—into a positive.” The evaluation of these commercials was conducted in real time by approximately 65 marketing students. The students graded the brands based on their efficacy in engaging the audience, conveying a unique message, highlighting the product’s benefits, and leaving a lasting, favorable impression consistent with the brand’s reputation.
Diverse Responses to Super Bowl Ads
This year’s evaluations resulted in nine commercials earning A grades. Notable among these were the Amazon Alexa ads featuring Michael B. Jordan and the Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade ads, which humorously depicted a series of lemon-related catastrophes. However, not all ads fared as well, with six receiving D grades.
Subpar commercials included those for Squarespace, suffering due to the audience’s inability to decipher their product, and DraftKings, whose forgettable ad impacted their assessment. Other platforms also critique Super Bowl ads, but divergent methodologies often lead to varied rankings. For instance, only four of the Kellogg Review’s top-rated ads matched the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter’s top 10 choices, which employs the opinions of U.S. citizens ages 18 and older as judges.
Sustained Impact and Lessons Learned
Both the Kellogg Review and the Ad Meter laud Cheetos, Alexa, Bud Light Seltzer, and Doritos. However, Rocket Mortgage’s top-ranked ads in the Ad Meter only garnered a B in the Kellogg Review. Notably, an F grade is absent from this year’s Kellogg Review, contrasting with previous years. Burger King, Squarespace, and the U.S. Census Bureau have faced F grades due to messaging confusion or disturbing content, exemplified by the infamous 1999 Just for Feet ad.
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Is the Splurge Worth It?
Despite occasional creative missteps, the question lingers: do Super Bowl ads warrant their substantial expenses? A deep dive into advertising spending shows that advertisers do indeed perceive their value. Gregory Aston, the head of digital-media research science at Kantar Group, points out that Super Bowl advertising surpasses both the NBA Finals and the World Series in terms of spending. In 2019, the Super Bowl attracted $336 million in ad spending compared to $290 million during the NBA Finals and $191 million during the World Series.
While a poorly executed ad can lead to setbacks, the unparalleled visibility offered by the NFL championship, coupled with the potential for significant gains, propels brands to embrace the risk and invest heavily in Super Bowl advertising.