These Ads Could Flop on Super Bowl Sunday

February 6, 2016, 3:30 PM UTC
Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival - Day 2
FRANKLIN, TN - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Tyler performs onstage during Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on September 27, 2015 in Franklin, Tennessee. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival)
Photograph by Erika Goldring — Getty Images

Between bites of chip and dip, people will be glued to their sets for Sunday’s big game. Why is the Super Bowl so important to marketers that they’re willing to spend $5 million per 30-second ad? Because 110 million viewers that the Super Bowl is expected to draw are engaged. They are willing to view and evaluate ads at parties, at sports bars or in social media polls — real time. In effect, it is the People’s Choice Awards for marketers. And for once, consumers are interested and paying attention.

In recent years, marketers have shifted ad spending to social media and digital marketing. These tools, while effective at promoting engagement, haven’t been able to concentrate viewers. Today, the average YouTube video draws far less than 10,000 views. Some of the top categories include entertainment (9,816 average views) and how to/style (beauty tips – 8,532 views). Autos, a category that spends big on TV, averages 5,673 views per video.

This translates to producing the equivalent of over 11,000 videos per year to aggregate the audience of one Super Bowl commercial. Even Internet sensation PewDiePie averages 232,000. YouTube views (at the height of popularity) would need to make 481 videos to aggregate the audience of a Super Bowl ad. Moreover, marketers don’t know how much audience duplication there is per online video. With the Super Bowl, advertisers know they’re getting over 100 million discrete viewers.

In today’s competitive landscape, advertisers are turning to celebrities more than ever. This year, celebrities promoting brands will range from comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen for Bud Light and TJ Miller for Shock Top to actors Liam Neeson for LG Electronics and Christopher Walken for Kia (KRX)and musicians Steven Tyler for Skittles and Lil Wayne for

Read more: Why GoDaddy’s Offensive Ads Worked

While the most advertised categories have been autos, beer and soda, there are always new entrants. This year, with (GDDY) bowing out of the Super Bowl for the first time in years, their spot will be filled with two website building companies, and Both feature high-profile celebrity and movie tie-ins. The Square Space ad features comedians Key & Peele as bumbling sportscasters who will also provide live commentary during the game. integrates its brand with the Kung Fu Panda 3 movie to promote its website building service.

A lot can change between now and game day, since companies might still edit or swap ads out for others that haven’t been shared with the public. Based on the previews we’ve seen, some ads could flop, including Skittles’ Super Bowl ad featuring Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler. It is a bit forced but aligned with Skittles’ quirky marketing strategy

The star-studded MINI teaser ads featuring celebrities like Serena Williams, Tony Hawk and Harvey Keitel seems to take a more serious tone. These celebrities discuss their personal journeys of defying labels while highlighting the line-up of MINI cars. This reminds me of Nationwide Insurance’s Super Bowl ad last year that alluded to death; it turned off viewers, as most serious ads do, unless they’re driving a deeper message.

The most anticipated ads will feature celebrities, and they’re expected to be the big favorites, similar to Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad in 2012 featuring Clint Eastwood. This year, comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen will likely win viewers with their Bud Light party ads. Hyundai (KRX) is betting big on humor, highlighting innovative car features with spots featuring comedian Kevin Hart and actor Ryan Reynolds.

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Ads that should perform well that don’t feature a celebrity come from Doritos, Unilever’s AXE Body Spray and Audi. This year marks the 10th year Doritos relies on consumers to produce and vote on the ad that will air during the Super Bowl. These user-generated ads have always been a fan favorite and one of this year’s winners features zombies. The Audi-R8 ad is a strong multi-generational ad featuring the “Starman” soundtrack from the late David Bowie, which gives it emotional appeal. Finally, AXE grows up and delivers a fast paced, cheeky brand repositioning urging young men to “own” their own uniqueness.

And there are the newcomers. This year, nutrition drink Bai makes its debut as well as General Motor’s (GM) Buick, which will target millennials with an ad featuring New York Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham and actress Emily Ratajkowski. Bai’s ad is still under-wraps. However, given their “None of This Makes Sense” slogan, expect something unusual and quirky.

Miro Copic is a professor of marketing at San Diego State University.


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