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Volume 24 No. 132
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First Time Super Bowl Advertisers Have Different Reasons For Getting In The Game

For first-time Super Bowl advertisers, the decision to "play" in the Super Bowl is an indication that their brand or their category has come of age. The companies have reached what they believe is sufficient critical mass to justify what this year is at least a $3.5M investment to connect with what is almost always the highest-rated TV show of the year. Awareness is relatively easy if you have a TV audience of 160 million watching. Still, in addition to using the Super Bowl as a launch platform, brands employ it as a coming-of-age message. "It was an easier decision for our marketing guys than our finance guys," laughed H&M North America Dir of Marketing & Advertising Steve Lubomski, whose company is launching a line of David Beckham "bodywear" underwear with a second-quarter ad. Lubomski: "It is the largest stage in the world and, after 11 years and 239 stores in the U.S., we really wanted to make a big brand statement."

YOGURT MAKES ITS DEBUT: Dannon's ad for its Oikos Greek Yogurt is a first for the category, within which greek yogurt grew to account for 30% of sales last year. Mindful of the company’s European ownership, Dannon CMO and Senior VP/Marketing Sergio Fuster noted that per capita European consumption of yogurt is three to four times that of Americans. "There's huge room for growth in America, and the fact that it (yogurt advertising in the Super Bowl) had never been done before definitely appealed to us," he said. "We were looking for something to give us a huge spike in awareness and if you want to make something part of the American diet, you do this to become part of (the) fabric of America." The Super Bowl ad buy also helped Dannon gain incremental retail display space. Fuster said he will be looking at a combination of social media buzz, ad meter ratings, and sales to determine whether the ROI was worth it. "Both the cost and the reward of the Super Bowl can be very high," he said. "We decided it was worth the risk."

IN THE WORKS FOR OVER A YEAR: Even for an established brand, a Super Bowl ad can be an important monument. In planning its 40th anniversary marketing programs, Century 21 brass made the decision to advertise in Super Bowl XLVI even before Super Bowl XLV was played. The spring home selling season begins in March, and even a brand with 90% or better awareness is hoping to use of the power of the Super Bowl to tweak other important brand metrics. "We're looking to build consideration, preference, and brand affinity," said Century 21 CMO Bev Thome. The company has more than a dozen ads in the NBC pregame show as a prelude to a third-quarter ad featuring Deion Sanders, Donald Trump and Apolo Ohno. Thome: "The timing just seemed right for us and it’s a time when everybody gathers in their homes, which is what we're all about. Was there skepticism at first? Of course. But now that we are in the middle of the frenzy and realize so much more visibility and conversation, you get that part is not part of the media buy price tag.”

SEEING A SALES BOUNCE: Skechers is running a Super Bowl ad for the third consecutive year, and Fitness Group President & CMO Leonard Armato recalls being handed a Super Bowl ad assignment just after joining the company three years ago. He now refers to it as a rudimentary ad, but sales of the toning shoes being advertised rocketed. "Having great creative on this ultimate mass-market platform is the Holy Grail," he said, "but having a good story to tell is more important. By now, we have learned additionally that it's all about the pregame buzz with a lot of social media integration," Armato said.

STAKES ARE HIGH: Shortly after BBDO, N.Y., President John & CEO Osborn started at the agency in ‘92, he was thrown into the fire, coordinating the shooting of three Pepsi Super Bowl ads, directed by the talented, but volatile, Joe Pytka with stars as bright as Ray Charles and Joe Montana. Early on, Osborn learned that, as on the field, the Super Bowl has a different level of expectations that comes with competing on the world's biggest stage. “The stakes are so high there's kind of a nerve-racking, healthy paranoia," said Osborn, whose agency has ads for M&Ms and GE in Sunday's game. "It is a deep intensity that really cannot be duplicated."