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Is Super Bowl Advertising Worth the Cost?

Jan. 31, 2012

It depends, according to Kirk Wakefield, Ph.D., executive director of Sports and Entertainment Marketing at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business and sports marketing blogger.

Advertising in sports, just like sponsorships, is only worth the investment in two cases, he writes in the blog, The Migala Report.

"Super Bowl ads are best at achieving awareness due to broad reach, making the game a great buy if that's the objective. Introducing or establishing a new brand (like the monkey-based ads from Career Builders a few years back or Go-Daddy's provocative ads) that draws from a large, diverse audience makes some sense. Similarly, ads for new movies and TV shows can make sense, as awareness is an important goal," he said.

But, what about the brands we already know? Do well-known brands like Budweiser and Coke need more awareness?

"The only real reason those brands should be in the Super Bowl (or any other sports & entertainment arena) is if the venue provides an opportunity to transfer fan passion to the brand," he said.

To transfer fan passion to the brand, fans watching the game must make the attribution that the whole experience is better because of the ad sponsor and viewers must make a concrete connection between the brand and the event.

"Psychologically, the brand and the Super Bowl event must occupy the same space in the minds of fans. When they think of the Super Bowl, they should also think of the brand. When these two things--attribution and linkage--happen, fans will transfer their passion to the brand. That's the way our brains work: If I like the event and this brand is inextricably tied to the event, then I like the brand. To do otherwise creates psychological tension," Wakefield said.

Log on to The Migala Report for more from Wakefield.

Wakefield's research focuses primarily on sports psychology, team sports marketing, entertainment marketing, and fan and consumer response to pricing and promotional tools. He has conducted fan research in almost every venue in sports including NBA, NFL, MLB, and NASCAR.

He has developed the Sports Sponsorship & Sales program and its advisory board of 35 major league teams, and the Music & Entertainment Marketing program with its own student-run entertainment company and record label.

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