Sneak peek at Super Bowl ads may not be good business

When you watch the football game Sunday are you watching for what’s on the field or the commercials? Many of this year’s Super spots have already been released online, possibly diluting their potential impact.

It’s a tough choice for Eagles fans this Sunday.  As a football fan, you’re practically bound by duty to watch the big game.  Yes, there is a push to opt for Downton Abbey on WHYY instead, but if you do watch the game, there is an inherent dilemma:  Giants or Patriots?

The Giants represent one of the Eagles’ fiercest rivals in NFC East, and there’s never been love between Philadelphia area fans and any New York team.  The Patriots on the other hand represent something similar to the evil empire with multiple Super Bowl wins, spy-gate, and those ugly cut-off sweatshirts coach Bill Belichick always wears.

So if you’re watching the game while hating both teams, what’s left to cheer for?  Good advertising.  

The commercial alternative

For companies spending $3.5 million for thirty seconds of airtime, making their commercials entertaining is key to making them pay off.  “It would appear that almost everyone is going for humor,” says University of Delaware business professor John Antil who studies Super Bowl advertising.  “There is kind of a formula for getting humor and that emotional attachment.  People like babies, they like animals.  So, if you can put an animal in, a little humor, you’re probably going to have success at least in terms of entertainment value.”

While this year will feature the traditional animals, babies, and former big-time stars going back to the role that put them on top (I’m looking at you Ferris), a new trend this year unrelated to the content of ads is the posting of numerous commercials online.  Antil says as many as 15 spots have been posted in full online.  Even though the Honda spot featuring a grown up Ferris Beuller has been watched more than 10-million times on YouTube.  “I think it’s probably a mistake to show the entire ad prior to the broadcast,” says Antil.

He says the trend started over the past few years with teases of the commercials being released leading up to the big game.  He says that built the anticipation for the spots, but now that anticipation is being squashed by the complete ads being shown.  “Showing the entire ad ahead of time does cause a certain amount of reduction in the surprise factor, and it could actually even lead to some disappointment when it’s viewed in the broadcast.”

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