Matt Ryan and Tom Brady say: Don't Short-Change Art for Metrics
Feb 03, 2017
Before the internet, one super bowl ad caused Master Lock sales to jump from $35M to $200M. How do today's integrated marketing campaigns use super bowl commercials?
Can you imagine dramatically boosting sales with a single advertisement that airs only once? Between 1973 and 1994, Master Lock saw its sales jump from $35 million to $200 million. During that time, the company spent almost its entire marketing budget airing just one ad spot during the Super Bowl. And this was before YouTube, so it really meant that audiences only saw the message one time per year.
Are Super Bowl Commercials Worth the Cost?
What would happen to a CMO today who proposed building an entire annual marketing budget around a single commercial? In a world where every video view, page impression, and mouse click is measured, it seems irresponsible -- if not downright insane -- to waste so many resources on one-way messaging that produced results that are, for all intents and purposes, immeasurable.
That logic is difficult to argue with. But a case can easily be made that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Does it make sense to forsake mass market exposure and buzz just because it can’t be quantified? Because awareness and branding can not be tied directly to each and every sale does not mean they don’t impact top line revenue immensely. Buying behavior is largely driven by emotion, and tapping into that is an art. Your marketing mix should incorporate elements of art and science.
What a Balanced, Integrated Super Bowl Ad Campaign Looks Like
Today’s environment makes that more possible than ever before. Case in point: Mars is going to run a live advertisement for its Snickers brand during the Super Bowl this weekend starring Adam Driver. If the spot is only 30 seconds, that will cost $5 million just for the air time -- that’s before the overhead of the production and Kylo Ren’s compensation are calculated. But think about what Mars is getting in return: more than 100 million eyeballs. We’re talking about the Super Bowl here, so it’s unlikely that many viewers are going to DVR it and skip over the commercials.
Already, Mars has a pretty good idea of what its penetration is going to look like even though it won’t be able to quantify how many of those people will go out and buy a Snickers bar as a result. The company doesn’t need data on every single viewer because it’s tying a larger campaign into the ad. You can go to Snickerslive.com right now (assuming you are reading this before the game has started) and view a live stream starring a slew of celebrities leading up the spot and the big game. Once you do that, Mars will know how long you spend watching and give you plenty of opportunities to engage with the brand on its social media channels. That’s highly measurable.
When all is said and done and the NFL champions are in the books, the live ad will start its second life as an online video, with all the metrics that go along with it. If you think a live commercial in front of such a huge audience is risky, what’s the worst that could happen? The lighting is bad, Driver flubs his lines, or a stark raving mad fan runs in front of the camera? Even if something goes astray, that really just gives the stunt even more post-game buzz and increase the number of people who will go back and check it out to see what happened. The downside for Mars is extremely slim, barring a wardrobe malfunction (which didn’t seem to hurt the careers of Jackson or Timberlake in the end).
Super Bowl Advertising Veterans Understand the Impact of Integrated Marketing
The big lesson marketers everywhere can learn from Mars is that metrics and analytics are extremely important aspects of creating successful campaigns; but without creativity and trust in the art of fundamentally immeasurable aspects of integrated marketing, the overall value is diminished. Think about how many people would tune into Snickerslive.com if it wasn’t leading up to a live Super Bowl ad. Not many. The analytical science of the live stream and post-game internet videos marry measurable engagement with the art of a spontaneous live television spot where anything could happen. That creates a campaign which is much larger than either could achieve independently.
The Super Bowl is an excellent annual reminder of the power of branding. Luckily, marketers today have much more powerful tools at their disposal than Nielsen ratings -- but even though Pepsi and Budweiser are never going to know how many more drinks they sold because of their big Super Bowl ad spends, they understand how they fit into the broader picture of boosting sales.
Skimping on the art or science of marketing necessarily impacts the other negatively. Finding the equilibrium ratio of resources to dedicate to each channel is key to optimizing the success of your campaign.