Every year, millions of Americans ( and others from around the world) tune in to one event that is every marketers dream – The Super Bowl. But, like all good things, Super Bowl ad time does not come cheap. In 2010, a 30-second ad slot cost about $3 million. So what is it that makes marketers dish out such an astronomical amount, for 30 seconds of ad space, year after year? Probably because of the hype, and the expectations, surrounding the Super Bowl.
In America, the day on which the Super Bowl match is played is virtually equivalent to a national holiday, and people refer to it as Super Bowl Sunday. It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. Super Bowl XLIV, played in February 2010, became the most-watched American television program ever, drawing an average audience of 106.5 million viewers. According to Nielsen ratings, the Super Bowl reaches more than 90 million viewers.
But more than all this, what makes it special is the mindset surrounding the Super Bowl. Super Bowl is not just about the game, its about the ads. They normally generate buzz even before being aired, and people always take time out specially for the ads. It was feared that products such as TiVo, which allow viewers to skip over the commercials, might reduce the efficacy of a Super Bowl ad. However, TiVo reported that viewers were pausing and rewinding in case of some of the ads. Once the Super Bowl is done, you only have to click to the net to find every site abuzz with reviews, ratings and much more. With so much attention from an actively engaged audience, its no wonder that marketers love the Super Bowl.
However, its not as if everyone can afford this, or that everyone sees it as being worth the money. With the costs escalating year by year, and having reached their zenith, many advertisers are having second thoughts about advertising at the Super Bowl. Moreover, the Super Bowl caters to a mass audience, whereas many marketers today prefer to reach out to a niche audience, who will be more perceptive to their ads, and give them more value for money. This year, Super Bowl stalwarts such as Pepsi, General Motors and Fed Ex withdrew from the Super Bowl, paving the way for newcomers like GoDaddy and Cash4Gold to make a mass media splash.
But how relevant is this for an Indian audience? Do we have any ‘Marketing Event’ to rival the Super Bowl? The closest I believe is the Indian Premier League (IPL). With marketing and hype galore, the IPL is one event where the ads do matter. Cricket is inherently an advertisers delight, because, unlike sports like Tennis or Football, where you have minimal number of ad slots, in cricket you have ads being shown after every over. In fact, this year, for the first time in history, the IPL allowed ads between the balls being bowled every over, which would be an effective if brute, way of reaching the audience. In a significant move, youtube entered the fray this year, broadcasting matches live, thus taking cricket to another channel altogether. With such exciting developments in the works, I’m sure IPL can be our ‘Marketing Event’.