Advertising Age recently reported that Pepsi might reduce its presence in the Super Bowl because of concerns that it is not a good fit with the new social-responsibility message of the brand. This is one example of hidden costs associated with advertising in the Super Bowl. At one level, the Super Bowl offers a large amount of reach among individuals interested in the commercials. Appearing in the Super Bowl also signals financial strength to some, given the high price tag of making a 30-second appearance. At another level, however, appearing in the Super Bowl might also be interpreted as financial foolhardiness. Indeed, when Under Armour announced it was devoting 10 percent of its advertising budget to the Super Bowl, it invited heavy scrutiny and the company stocks experienced a drop.
GM has decided to opt out of the Super Bowl altogether. Given the pressure the auto industry is already under, it might not only be financially sound, but prudent based on managing expectations with consumers. Of course, the lack of an appearance also means a missed opportunity to reach millions of consumers with a brand message.
This all raises a series of interesting questions to me: Who is “allowed” to advertise in the Super Bowl in the eyes of the public? What brands can safely spend their money and be accepted by consumers? Which ones are likely to invite disdain from the public?
Surely there are several issues at play, such as the company’s perceived reputation in the marketplace, the financial health of the company, and its brand positioning (e.g., socially responsible might be a harder sell when one is spending $2.5 to 3 million on a 30-second spot). What do you think?