It seems to be a uniquely American experience that many people watch the whole super bowl just to see some of the advertisements. Sure, they’re entertaining. They’re funny. They do crazy stuff. But one thing they don’t do is work.
It’s not their fault though. Most TV ads don’t work. The best they can do is to raise awareness. Maybe they get people talking. But when your commercial focuses on talking animals and crazy antics, you’re usually lucky if you remember what they’re even about. The only product that comes to my mind from the Super Bowl is Doritos. I know there were some beer commercials. Actually, I also remember the Coke one with Mr. Burns only because I’m such an avid fan of the Simpsons.
These ads have a very small impact on consumer decisions. Although, for most of these companies, they have a fundamentally average product and pumping more money into advertising is all they can do. People have really hit their maximum in terms of snacks, soft drinks, and beer intake. So since that market won’t be growing, all they can do is fight for their slice of that pie. There’s a very real sense that if they don’t spend this money, then their market share will erode.
Consumers are faced with more choices than ever before, so they no longer have to simply decide whether they want Miller, Coors, or Budweiser. They have a whole isle of beers to choose from. Most of the other options there are dramatically better as well. That’s a personal opinion, but there’s no need to settle for one of the top 3 when you can choose from hundreds of other options. Same thing for the everything else. We’re faced with plenty of other options for clothing, food, drinks and the like. Chances are that one of them will be something we like more. So the old standbys are left shelling out nearly $3 million dollars for 30 seconds of “hey, don’t forget about us!” It’s all rather pathetic.
It harkens back to how the network channels were overcome by cable channels that serve more of a niche interest. Viewers are free to move to wherever better shows are being shown and usually do. Nobody is loyal to just one channel. Likewise, it seems a bit crazy for companies to expect loyalty when they don’t offer anything worth being loyal to.
So who was the real winner of the Super Bowl ads? Nobody… well, maybe Pepsi.