Let’s face it: the ads are as big a part of the Super Bowl as either the game or the half-time show.

And EVERYBODY has an opinion on them.

From which ones were the best or worse to whether the extraordinary cost of a Super Bowl spot — reportedly $7 million for 30-seconds — is worth the money.

But let’s ignore the chatter and get down to brass tacks:

How can Super Bowl advertising improve your advertising?

Why Super Bowl Ads Can Be Worth It, and Why That Matters

Audience size only contributes to the real value of a super bowl ad.

There are cheaper ways to reach 90 million people.

The intense audience focus on the ads matters as much as audience size, but is also only a contributor to the real value of a Super Bowl spot.

No other advertising venue can guarantee audience attention on the ads the way the Super Bowl can.

Where else can you expect your ads — which are normally an interruption to the desired content — to be intently watched, dissected, and judged by your audience.

Then again, there are other ways to ensure an audience pays attention to your ad.

The real reason a Super Bowl spot is worth a cool $7 million can be summed up in one word:


A Super Bowl spot is a chance to enter the national conversation, to be instantly known and talked about.

Your Brand, its key positioning, and an ear-wormy brandable chunk could become instantly known.

And with the right strategy, you can transform that fame into sales.

For example, there’s Apple’s legendary 1948 Super Bowl ad, that allowed apple to basically sell out of Macintosh stock immediately upon launch.


And there’s Masterlock’s Super Bowl spot that established it as the premium brand in its category.


But what does this have to do with your advertising?

Lesson 1: The Interchangeability of Time and Money

Super Bowl spots promise instant gratification. So they cost a fortune.

Those willing to wait 4-12 months to achieve “local fame” can buy the same result for a fraction of the price.

And those looking to do it on a local scale can further reduce the price by an order of magnitude (depending on the size of your locale).

Are you a longer-term thinker? Are you willing to invest in delayed gratification?

Then your brand can become locally famous with a consistent mass media branding campaign over the course of a year.

And, yes, the right strategy can transform that fame into increased sales and market share.

Of course, if delayed gratification ain’t for you, you can always get back on the pay-per-crack treadmill.

Or you can scrounge up the money for a Super Bowl spot.

Lesson 2: Balls Beats Budget

3-d advertising Give me outrageously creative ads and powerful messaging with a small budget, and I’ll beat competitors outspending you ten-to-one.

Because even guaranteed attention — as with a Super Bowl spot — fizzles with a dud ad, while completely disinterested audiences can be won over with high-impact advertising.

When Chick-Fil-A was still local to Atlanta, the company couldn’t even afford radio or TV. So The Richards Group created amazing, attention-grabbing 3-D billboards for them.

And on the basis of that Cows campaign, grew the company to overtake Kentucky Fried Chicken as the largest and most profitable fried chicken fast-food chain in America.

And Poo-Pourri was able to launch it’s sales and brand fame into the stratosphere with Harmon Brothers’ outrageous funny online-only ad:


Why? Because balls beats budget.

Lesson 3: Story Beats Spectacle

Every Super Bowl has at least a few ads with massive special effects, a celebrity spokesperson or appearance, even a 60-second or longer run-time, and ZERO storytelling strategy.

You watch these ads and either scratch your head in confusion, or shake your head in wonder that anyone would approve an ad that didn’t actually tell or advance the brand story.

Creativity is great, but creativity that doesn’t sharpen the message fails every time.

Whereas a seemingly low-key ad that holds the audience’s attention through strong storytelling wins every time.

A classic Super Bowl example of storytelling over spectacle is Dodge’s “So God Made a Farmer” ad:


So while hard-hitting creative ads are great, it’s a “must-do” to ensure the creativity is based around sound storytelling — with extra persuasion points for character-driven ads.

What About YOUR Advertising?

  • Are you planning for long-term success, or are you paying through the nose for instant gratification?

If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding “Hell, yeah!,” you should seriously rethink your advertising.

Because even if you’re not quite spending Super Bowl money on your mass media ads, they still represent far too much of an investment to squander.