Monday, February 4, 2008

Superbowl Ads: Were They Worth $2.7M?

Even though Canadian football fans (and by that, I mean football, not "soccer") get to enjoy the Superbowl in all its glory, the same doesn't go for the much-hyped about commercials, which only air in the States. But thanks to the Internet, we can often times view every ad online the next day.

Before we delve deeper into the ads themselves, I thought I'd point out how funny it is that, on any given day, people spend so much time trying to skip by commercials using devices like PVRs, or strategically-timed bathroom and snack breaks. But once Superbowl Sunday arrives, we're on the edge of our seats anticipating the commercials just as much, if not more, than the game itself.

And advertisers know they've got this extremely captive audience, which is why many of them are willing to pay enormous amounts of money for a coveted spot. The Associated Press reports that a 30-second ad during the Superbowl can cost upwards of US$2.7 million! Go big or go home, as they say. This probably explains why when checking Google News for the term "Superbowl" this morning, there were more stories related to the ads than were to the actual game. The Giants won, but on to more important subjects: how were the commercials?

With that said, YouTube has a dedicated Website where all of this year's commercials can be viewed and voted on: So how did they fare this year?

There was the usual selection of obvious advertisers: the ones selling everything from beer and cars, to showing off scantily-clad girls, and goofy upcoming movies. But there was also a surprising amount of commercials from Web-based businesses that are obviously bigger than many of us realize. That, or they spend an entire year's ad budget in one spot!,, and are just a few, along with E-trade, which, according to a study conducted by TiVo, won the hearts of viewers with its talking baby ad. Sure, it was mildly humorous, but it didn't exactly have me keeled over laughing.

Typically, we can always count on Budweiser for a barrel of laughs. TiVo says Bud usually dominates its top ten list, often accounting for at least three spots. But this year, the beer company's commercials didn't reach anywhere near the level of hilarity they have in the past, which was a bit of a let-down. The funniest of the lot was probably the Cavemen attempting to "invent the wheel" to help transport some Bud to a party; or the wine and cheese party where the hubbies inconspicuously snuck in their Bud Light and mini TV.

Of the bunch that I watched via YouTube, Life Water's commercial featuring geicos dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller made it tough not to crack a grin; while Planter's Cashews take on how much men love snack nuts had me laughing. But overall, the commercials just didn't have the water-cooler power that they did in past years. My first indication was that not one co-worker called me into his office to see one; nor did I receive an e-mail with a link, or a compressed version of one of the ads as an attachment, and the obligatory "you gotta see this" subject line. If they were that funny, people would have wanted to share the laughs.

On a related note, TiVo used a sample of 10,000 anonymous users of its service to gauge the top Superbowl commercials: the best of the moderately okay, I guess. Based on this measurement, E-trade's talking baby ranked tops, followed by a Pepsi Commercial featuring pop sensation Justin Timberlake; Doritos "Mouse Trap"; Coca-Cola's "James Carville and Bill Frist"; Ice Breakers ad with Carmen Electra; Bridgestone's "Headlights"; Bud Light's "Cavemen"; Vitamin Water's "Horse Race"; "Witch Doctor"; and Life Water's "Thriller".

Whether good or bad, one thing's for sure: every company that forked over dough to grab that massive audience's attention for a mere 30 seconds-1 minute will get something out of that money, even if just a spot in history as a company that overpaid for exposure.

Which was your favourite?

1 comment:

SC said...

I don't know if I had a 'favourite' this year. Like you said, they were pretty mediocre. I almost felt ripped off that I had spent the time looking them up and watching them online.