Super Bowl Ad Spend

By Tom Dougherty

25 January 2021

Super Bowl ad spend: Budweiser switches tactics

Super Bowl ad spend: Budweiser switches tactics

Like any football fan, I love the Super Bowl as much as anyone. But one thing I’ve never truly understood: Why do brands fork out such a huge Super Bowl ad spend?

The easy answer is that no TV event attracts more eyeballs than the big game. So, you wanna be noticed? Then get in front of as many people as you can. Or so the thinking goes.

But I’ve always felt the money was better spent elsewhere. Especially because advertisers approach the event like a contest. Which ones are most entertaining? Who wins the popularity poll? And so on.

It’s more like the Emmys than a way to create true preference. Especially with this year’s Super Bowl ad spend reaching $5.6 million for a 30-second spot.

Traditionally, one of the biggest spenders is Budweiser. The King of Beers always trots out a handful of spots. Often figuring into the talk the next day.

But the Budweiser brand won’t appear this year. Instead, it’s pouring its dollars into supporting a COVID-19 vaccine awareness and educational Super Bowl ad from the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative.

Raising awareness with a Super Bowl ad spend

A worthy cause, no doubt. But I think something more strategic is in play. The ratings for the Super Bowl will again be huge. Mahomes versus Brady (again?!) makes for exciting football. The Super Bowl ad spend won’t deter many brands. (Although some reports suggest there is still airtime available. When spots usually are booked around Thanksgiving.)

Recently, though, Budweiser announced it was eliminating many of its brands to focus on the core brand: Budweiser. It is the smart play. The company understands now that rebuilding its signature and most powerful brand was needed in a fractured category.

Super Bowl ad spendOther brands should take note. The Super Bowl ad spend remains too costly for advertisers to put everything into one bucket. The only reason to buy into it is to raise awareness. And most brands don’t need awareness. They need preference.

And the cost is too high for those who do need awareness.

Unless it’s to raise awareness for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The truth is brands advertise during the Super Bowl because their ad agencies want them to do it. It’s how THEY get their profile raised. It’s THEIR awareness (with both potential clients and award committees) they’re worried about.

Awareness is the only value of a Super Bowl ad spend. At least Budweiser is spending money for something that needs it.
 
 

“Awareness is the only value of a Super Bowl ad spend. At least Budweiser is spending money for something that needs it.”

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