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Superbowl 2014 - The Holy Grail of Advertising

The Super Bowl, one might say, is the Holy Grail of Advertising. This is the big leagues. Since 1967, the between-plays ads have become increasingly coveted spots to run commercials for the nation’s most beloved products. Ask the average American who’s playing in the Super Bowl, and it’s a coin toss as to whether they can tell you. Ask them what their favorite Super Bowl commercial was, and they’ll recount one in detail.

A recent trend is “teaser” commercials leading up to and hinting at the commercial that will air during the Super Bowl. A trailer, as shown below, for a 30-second “movie.” A 30-second movie that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make and will cost FOUR. MILLION. DOLLARS. to air.

Before we move on, let’s put that in perspective:

  • Ready for Hillary’s entire war chest could buy ONE Super Bowl ad.
  • It took $4 million to free Italian journalist Domenico Quirico from Syrian kidnappers.
  • $4 million would buy the most expensive home in Thailand.
  • Instead of a $4 million Super Bowl ad, you could buy this website, and the owner will give you a foot massage.

With half-minute slots selling for that much, give or take $200,000, even the most uninterested viewer has to pause and wonder: Is it worth it?

Advertising is all about building up a customer base. “Hey, look at what we have to sell; you should buy some.” It’s a great way to get your brand name and products out into the market. But look at who’s buying Super Bowl slots:

  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Pepsi
  • Walt Disney
  • Coca-Cola
  • General Motors

Is there any company on that list you haven’t heard of? It’s hard to believe that Coca-Cola’s market share is so tenable that failing to dump $4 million into 30 seconds (Has that been stressed enough? A commercial is 30 seconds. 3-0. The time it takes you to walk to the fridge and grab a Coke = $4,000,000.) of Super Bowl advertising is going to topple their global sugary empire.

As any marketing guru worth their salt will tell you, the coin of the realm these days is shareability. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, company survival depends on whether your customers are telling their friends, posting pictures, and sharing the link to your commercial on their social media platforms.

The kid who’s never eaten Doritos in his life will still laugh at the Doritos Super Bowl commercials and tell his Facebook friends to check it out.

And that, it turns out, is worth four million dollars.

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