MEDIA WATCH: Super Bowl XXXV commercials were hardly super

The Super Bowl has become an American institution. Not only that, the commercials in the Super Bowl have taken on a life of their own, generating nearly as much hype and anticipation as the game itself. For advertisers, the Super Bowl represents a one of a kind opportunity to get a company's message out to the largest television audience of the year. ABC News (January 29) reported the Super Bowl had an audience of as many as 140 million Americans and as many as a billion people worldwide.

The Super Bowl has become an American institution. Not only that, the commercials in the Super Bowl have taken on a life of their own, generating nearly as much hype and anticipation as the game itself. For advertisers, the Super Bowl represents a one of a kind opportunity to get a company's message out to the largest television audience of the year. ABC News (January 29) reported the Super Bowl had an audience of as many as 140 million Americans and as many as a billion people worldwide.

The Super Bowl has become an American institution. Not only that, the commercials in the Super Bowl have taken on a life of their own, generating nearly as much hype and anticipation as the game itself. For advertisers, the Super Bowl represents a one of a kind opportunity to get a company's message out to the largest television audience of the year. ABC News (January 29) reported the Super Bowl had an audience of as many as 140 million Americans and as many as a billion people worldwide.

You would think that ad agencies everywhere would be able to focus their energies and creative juices into their best efforts for this once-a-year event, especially since companies were shelling out an average of dollars 2.3 million per 30 second ad. However, judging from reviews, commercials aired during Super Bowl XXXV lacked quality compared to previous years. Reviews were varied, with different ads appealing to different tastes, but the consensus appeared to be that overall, the ads rated fair to poor.

The post-game buzz suggested that even this year's best ads lacked that little extra spark that sets a good commercial apart from a great one.

A sports marketing consultant told the Los Angeles Times (January 29), 'This was the least memorable batch of commercials in memory as far as creativity.'

Stories also noticed the absence of dot-com advertisers this year as a marked contrast to last year, when so many Internet companies advertised the game was termed the 'Dot-Com Bowl.' Last year, the dot-coms' ads were criticized for trying so hard to be cool or hip that their respective messages were lost. Even though they're not dot-com's, Accenture, Cingular Wireless and even EDS still received the same criticism. Whether the public thought their ads were good or bad, reviews were nearly unanimous that no one knew what services these companies provide. As Advertising Age correspondent Bob Garfield told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America (January 29), 'There is no way to look at these commercials and divine what their advertiser is actually advertising. It's a very expensive mistake.'

There were only a few reports that claimed advertisers were declaring their ads a hit, justifying the expense incurred. Accenture defended its decision to run its ads during the Super Bowl, telling The New York Times (January 31) that it reached 50% of its targeted audience that night, resulting in hits at its Web site doubling in volume. Accenture did not appear concerned that the public at large was confused about the company as long as its message reached Fortune 500 company senior executives.

All this is not to say that there were no crowd-pleasers among the ads.

The commercials most embraced by the public were Anheuser-Busch (for its Bud and Bud Light ads), Pepsi and EDS. USA Today (January 30) awarded Anheuser-Busch its top spot on its Annual Ad Meter consumer poll for its ad where the excited man accidentally sprayed his attractive date with a foamy beer.

Despite the pressure to create a memorable ad and have the public laugh loudest during your commercial, advertisers need to remember that the point of the commercials is to build sales. Several reviews questioned whether many of this year's ads would accomplish that objective.

Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found at www.carma.com.



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