Monday, January 25, 2010

Voting and the Super Bowl

Super Bowl advertising continues to evolve both in terms of who is advertising and the nature of the ads themselves. To the first point, it appears that at least to some extent the old guard is out, as venerable Super Bowl advertisers like Pepsi are out this year. The event is becoming a place where lesser-known brands, well, like Hyundai are choosing to make a big splash. In fact that may be what super bowl advertising is all about – creating an impact that otherwise would be difficult to achieve. Aligning a brand with such an important cultural ritual like watching the super bowl can skyrocket brand awareness. is one such brand that comes to mind. But for products like Pepsi, where awareness levels are already quite high, there isn’t much the Super Bowl can do for the brand. Pepsi has, this year, opted for a different route to brand building. To the second point, I’ve noticed the continuation of a trend in Super Bowl advertising that relates to this blog’s title – participatory advertising. There appears to be several if not many opportunities for consumers to vote in and around Super Bowl advertising. For example, in a previous blog post I pointed to as a website where one could vote for their favorite commercial, the winner will air on the Super Bowl. Doritos has been employing this technique for three years and continues with its “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion. Voting is a cultural ritual that we usually think of when considering the election of political candidates. As advertising can also be considered a social practice--another term for ritual which I write about in my book Advertising in Everyday Life--it is perhaps understandable why advertisers want consumers to participate in advertising in a somewhat similar way as another cultural ritual – voting. The ability to step into the polling booth and cast your vote for a political candidate is a form of personal empowerment. This practice – voting – also works in the world of advertising where marketers want to empower consumers, at least on the symbolic level. So, the Super Bowl represents a unique opportunity to step into the polling booth, metaphorically, and vote for your favorite advertisement, becoming an empowered consumer. But to what end, I ask?


Keyan said...

Although it is true that Pepsi really does not have much to gain, it does have something to maintain. Ever since I can recall, every year Pepsi has taken place in the Super Bowl. All of a sudden in 2010 they decide they are not going to advertise during the Super Bowl at all? I feel as if people who are not into advertising, the average Americans, are going to watch the Super Bowl, and say " Hey! wait a minute, there was not one ad for Pepsi, they usually have like... 15?". I think Pepsi has a reputation and image to maintain, and this is taking a major step backwards.

Kristina K said...

Initially I was shocked when I read that Pepsi was not going to advertise during this years Super Bowl game. In my experience I have always felt that Pepsi and Coca Cola compete with each other for a better commercial. Yet now it looks like Coca Cola is going to win without a fight. So naturally I wonder, what is Pepsi up to? It’s no secret that commercial advertising for the Super Bowl is an expensive investment, but with millions of viewers it seems worthwhile. However, Pepsi is reserving itself this year. (perhaps because of budget cuts in this poor economy) Nevertheless, I feel the issue goes deeper. Personally I feel that Pepsi has realized that they have made a ‘Lovemark’ among customers just as Coca Cola has done the same. With this in mind maybe Pepsi has decided not to spend so much on advertising because it will not result in an increase in profit. Technology today allows commercials to be posted on the Internet for free as well as advertise on websites at a cheaper cost than most television shows. This new trend seams to be the rout Pepsi is taking. But will this payoff for them or will they loose some customers to Coca Cola as a result? Or if this new strategy works, where Internet advertising creates more of a profit than television, will other well known companies pull out of the Super Bowl next year?

bpsullivan said...

Super bowl advertisements are highly anticipated by both avid football fans as well as people who could not even name the two teams playing in the game. Commercial time during the Super bowl has normally been filled with big name brands, such as Pepsi. Pepsi has been infamous for their memorable commercials during the Super bowl with big names like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears appearing in their ads. Is it worth it for Pepsi to spend so much money for airtime when their brand is already well known? Pepsi doesn’t need a memorable Super bowl commercial to win consumer approval. They have their dedicated consumers and a pricey commercial featuring a popular celebrity singing a catchy tune will most likely not change that. Lesser-known brands such as are making the right choice to invest in Super bowl airtime. During the Super bowl, people actually pay attention to the commercials and the products have a higher chance of staying with them. The fact that many companies are making their advertisements more “participatory” among their consumers will lead more people to inquire about their product because most people jump at the chance to be on national television.