Super Bowl Ads – Tough Luck Instead Of Tough Trucks

Charlotte, NC (February 6, 2012) – Sometimes, the economics of professional sports just don’t make sense.

The 46th-edition of the National Football League’s Super Bowl was played Sunday in Indianapolis. The average price of a ticket was $4,000 and a 30-second commercial during the game’s near four-hour television broadcast averaged $3.5 million.

You’re kidding, right?

While there are all kinds of statistics to justify this kind of expense, it’s still hard to justify these numbers especially if you compare it to another professional sport – NASCAR.

Let’s start with the ticket price. Four grand is a lot of jingle to cough up for one 60-minute football game, even if it’s one that has Madonna prancing around on the stage during halftime. Assuming you arrive early and the whole experience plays out around six hours, that’s still about $665 an hour average cost.

For that same $4,000, a fan can buy a ticket to EVERY one of the 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season events in 2012. That’s $111 average price for each ticket and that includes stock car racing’s ‘Super Bowl’ – the Daytona 500.

As crazy as those number are, the Super Bowl television advertising costs are even more mindboggling.

Think about it – $3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime.

That’s insane.

Sure, the stat guys will say the Super Bowl is the mac daddy of all television shows with the last four games ranking among the top-five watched TV shows of all time (only the final episode of MASH in 1983 rates on this list).

And when the final numbers are in for Sunday’s New England Patriots – New York Giants tilt, they will almost certainly eclipse the 163 million total viewers and 53.3 million households delivered by the 2011 Super Bowl game between Green Bay and Pittsburgh.

Still, the fallacy of these numbers is that everyone is going to watch every commercial as closely as they keep tabs on the game. While the ads are generally interesting, commercials in any program – including the Super Bowl – are seen as an opportunity to hit the bathroom, grab a snack or just mute the television depending on how annoying the ads are.

Bottom line – there’s no way everyone watches the entire game and all the commercials. The advertisers know this too. That’s why all of the car companies who purchased commercials in this year’s game – Honda, Kia, Chevrolet, Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, Audi, Acura and Hyundai – posted their ads on the Internet days before the Super Bowl.

So did Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Go Daddy, Pepsi and Career Builder just to name a few.

So much for the ‘suspense’ of waiting until ‘Super Sunday’ to see who had the most clever and effective commercials.

Of course, those who do watch television commercials for a living – and viewers who rate those kind of things – will all weigh in as to who had the best and the worst ads in this year’s event.

Strike a cord with the viewers and the sales bonanza is like manna from Heaven. Then again, Heaven help those companies who come out on the wrong end of the consumer voting as their $3.5 million – and the million or so in creative and production costs – will have heads rolling when the pink slips are handed out.

Boom or bust – either way, it just doesn’t seem worth it to us.

That’s especially true when you consider that same $3.5 million would make any of the companies involved in Sunday’s Super Bowl ad sweepstakes a total winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

For that amount, a company would have a primary partnership role with just about any team in the division for all 22 NCWTS races in 2012. Included in that program would be a corporate color-keyed vehicle with the company’s name/logo on the hood, rear quarters and TV panel.

Additional signage would include team transporter and all support equipment such as the pit and boxes. Driver and team uniforms would be splashed with company logos as well.

Also included in that program would be a full year of driver appearances, a comprehensive public relations effort, website ID and links, social media campaigns, and hospitality events where the company could invite current associates and potential customers to be a part of the action.

And just so we’re clear, there’s also television involved here too.

No, SPEEDTV’s telecasts of all 22 Truck Series races this season won’t come near to delivering the audience that a 30-second Super Bowl commercial might. But with each race telecast averaging about two hours in length, you have a heck of a lot more chances to get noticed.

No one shot deal here.

If you figure in an extra million bucks or so for the creation and production costs of a Super Bowl television commercial, tossing $4-$4.5 million at a Truck Series team for a comprehensive year-long national marketing campaign seems way better bet than rolling the dice on 30 seconds of fame at the big game.

Given the lack of really witty, entertaining and memorable commercials in this year’s Super Bowl, there were a lot of companies who creatively ‘crapped out’ Sunday night.

Call it ‘Tough Luck’ instead of ‘Tough Trucks.’

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