The Rise Of The Local Super Bowl Spot

You probably aren’t thinking about the 2013 Super Bowl today. Hell, you’re probably still half-lit from yesterday’s party and promising that you’re never drinking/eating that much ever again. But there is one group of people that are: Marketers.

Advertisers that bought a spot in the 2012 Super Bowl are pouring over more analytics than you could shake a stick at. Teams of people are working on arguments (both for and against) to present to the CFO. Some will show a positive ROI, others won’t go near this game ever again. But the machine doesn’t stop. The decision to invest millions of dollars doesn’t come lightly. And the planning for next year’s game beings now.

Did you notice that pretty much every ad sucked? Well, maybe sucked is too strong. Sucked in comparison to your expectations. Most, if not all, of the spots were better than the average commercial you’ll see watching some random college hoops game tonight on ESPN. But while the baby in the sling shot got you to chuckle and the M & M’s :30 was pretty clever… none of them gave you that ‘OH SHIT’ did you just see that feeling you had from a Super Bowl spot 10 years ago.


Because it’s too expensive to gamble.

Just like it’d take a special kind of crazy to go into a casino and lay down every dollar you had on the chance that you could double your net worth by going red on the roulette table, the same holds true for companies. 3.5M dollars buys a ton of advertising, especially in a down economy. And while you’re not going to have half the country watching any other event at the same time (the Olympics opening ceremony will come the closest), it’s easier to justify pounding various messages for longer periods of time than it is to blow the company load in :30.

Even worse, you could be like Century 21. You think a slapdash spot that cost millions to air and at least a million more for Deion Sanders & Aton Ohno is easy to explain away to real estate agents this morning? Worse, was that spot memorable enough to get you to consider them for your next home sale?

No. The answer is no. Century 21 went all in on a middling spot. And because the agents won’t get into their offices with multiple messages wanting their desirable home listed, they’re going to be pissed their company siphoned off a portion of their ad exposure in the local paper to do get that exposure yesterday.

The layers of people making the decision to advertise in the Super bowl are thick. And those layers don’t want to risk their investment in humor that is aspirational. If they did, why not give Louis CK 500K to make a spot? They want focus groups and survey testing. That’ll turn up the same tropes: dogs, babies, monkeys… exactly what you saw.

But. And this is a big B-U-T… the opportunity to still get people worked up is in the Super Bowl. It’s just in the local buy. Every year the local NBC, CBS or FOX station has inventory to sell in the game. Generally it’s large local companies putting a generic message out there to remind them that they’re the leader in (fill in the blank) and people at the party go: “Hey (fill in the blank) spent 3 million on a Super Bowl spot?” and the one guy that knows TV says “No. That’s a local spot.” And then people move on.

But this year? At least in St. Louis, we had a standout local spot.

Ray Vinson, love him or hate him, knew that St. Louis responds to nothing like the Cardinals. So putting Tony LaRussa and a fake Albert Pujols in a spot was genius. Watch it now:

Again, put your feelings for the guy or his business aside and just focus on what got people talking yesterday in St. Louis during the Super Bowl. Chances are it wasn’t the latest Avengers trailer or the extended Hunyadi spots they can see on YouTube. It was Tony LaRussa watch a fake Albert Pujols walk off into the darkness.
The marketers are already busy planning for next year’s crop of underwhelming ads. But locally? There is still home.

Cheers Ray. You saved the Super Bowl ad, improbably.


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