While many of the 2011 Super Bowl advertisers will return to this year’s game to air ads, HomeAway is sitting out entirely; instead, the vacation home rental company will buy time on the Oscars, the Grammys and the 2012 Survivor finale.
This isn’t a surprise.
HomeAway had a rough experience in 2011. The company ran a piece of advertising that the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review panel and others found rather confusing and very disconcerting. The ad featured a baby being thrown into a plate glass window. This resulted in a major backlash from customers, with the company eventually pulling the entire campaign and issuing an apology.
After that experience, it isn’t surprising to see the company focus on other, less scrutinized advertising venues. HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples explained that the Super Bowl garnered the company a lot of exposure, but proved to be very burdensome. Speaking at an event at the University of Texas, Sharples said, “It worked out great…but after the experience last year I don’t have the stomach for it.”
The Super Bowl is a high-stakes event for companies and executives. The issue isn’t just the expensive media time, which can be hard to justify. The issue is that a weak Super Bowl spot can damage a brand and even one’s career.
HomeAway discovered just how risky it can be. I understand why they wouldn’t return for another try this year.