Super Bowl: A Bonanza for Advertisers
Super Bowl: A Bonanza for Advertisers

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas,  will host Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will host Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
The Super Bowl isn’t just the most anticipated football game of the year. For many businesses, it is the most lucrative opportunity for marketing and advertising on the world’s biggest stage.

How so? The Super Bowl is the most-watched event on television, and its appeal reaches far beyond football fans. Studies show that millions of non-sports fans tune into the game every year, in anticipation of new advertisements.

And if you don’t think advertising is important, just ask GoDaddy.com. The internet domain registration company was virtually unheard of a few years ago. After making a splash in securing a 30-second advertising spot in Super Bowl XXXIX (2005), the racy ad it aired—which was a spoof of Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” moment—garnered so much attention and water-cooler discussion that GoDaddy.com is a household name today.

This year, FOX, which owns rights to air the Super Bowl in 2011, is charging up to $3 million for each 30-second spot. Despite the high price tag, advertisers say that showcasing their brands during the Super Bowl is worth it.

"Year after year Go Daddy receives a tremendous amount of traffic Super Bowl Sunday," Go Daddy Founder Bob Parsons said in a statement. "Domain name searches increase in connection with these traffic spikes because of our Super Bowl commercials.”

According to the company, GoDaddy.com now has almost 50 percent market share in the domain registration industry—up from less than 10 percent before its first Super Bowl ad buy.

All advertising spots for this weekend’s game were sold by last October, an indication of the demand from businesses.

Ads a Huge Draw

In many cases, anticipation to watch the new commercials is almost as big a draw as the game on the field. More than 58 percent of potential Super Bowl viewers are eagerly awaiting the Budweiser commercials, according to a new survey by Survey Sampling International (SSI). Almost as much, 47 percent of viewers, is looking forward to the Bud Light commercials, and 41 percent are awaiting the Doritos commercial.

Market research firm Lightspeed Research found in a study that around 44 percent of viewers watch the Super Bowl for its advertisements.

This year’s advertisers will be a mix of old and new. Super Bowl staples PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, E-Trade, and Budweiser are all back with new, eagerly anticipated spots. The auto industry also is shelling out big bucks to entice consumers who have shown willingness to spend more money this year. Online social-coupon website Groupon reportedly snagged the last ad spot after another advertiser pulled out.

Volkswagen of America (VW) is airing two ad spots during the big game, featuring characters from Lucasfilm’s Star Wars media franchise. The ads will promote the upcoming Tennessee-built 2012 Passat and the 21st Century Beetle. The ads can be previewed on Volkswagen of America's website.

“Both spots show the creativity and innovation that people expect from an iconic brand like Volkswagen,” said Mike Sheldon of Deutsch LA, Volkswagen’s ad agency. ”The Super Bowl is unlike any other media platform in the world in terms of its reach and cultural influence.”

“It is tailor-made for big announcements and is the perfect way for VW to engage the American public.”

For those hoping to see a photo of the highly anticipated next-generation Beetle, you'll be disappointed. The commercial only shows a silhouette of the upcoming vehicle.

Social Marketing

Many advertisers incorporate social networking into their marketing strategy, and are looking to move beyond the fan page on Facebook and Twitter accounts giving followers periodic updates.

After watching the commercial on television, viewers can immediately log onto the advertiser’s website to watch the uncut versions of the ads, generating more page views and increasing potential business.

According to Advertising Age, an industry publication, Audi’s new ad will feature a hashtag via which viewers can keep abreast of online discussion regarding the ad on Twitter.

First-time Super Bowl advertiser Daimler AG will feature an ad promoting its new C-Class coupe, with a campaign called Tweet Fuel which is a race to see who can sign up the most followers on Twitter. There will be several teams and individuals, with chances to win a C-Class coupe.

PepsiCo, which opted out of paying for a Super Bowl spot last year to raise awareness for its Pepsi Refresh Project, is back in the fold this year. The charity effort, which disseminated $20 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, was initially launched on Facebook last year.

Other advertisers who used social media in conjunction with their Super Bowl advertising, include online brokerage E-Trade and flower retailer Teleflora.

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