By Barry Janoff
January 28, 2015: With NBC charging upward of $4.5 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLIX and a roster of brands including Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kia (pictured right), McDonald's, Snickers, Skittles and Squarespace (pictured below) with an overall buy that could top $350 million, companies are trying to figure out just how impactful their messages can be.
A new survey from global communications firm Burson-Marsteller has some good news and some insightful news for Super Bowl ad buyers and those potential buyers for the historic Super Bowl 50 next year and beyond.
According to the survey, the at-home Super Bowl experience far outweighs that of being at the game — this year in the University of Phoenix Stadium — with 69% of those surveyed saying they would prefer to watch the game in the comfort of their own home, with family and friends. Only 23% would prefer to watch the game in-person.
With so much effort put into making commercials entertaining, marketers will be happy to know that 51% of Americans think of the Super Bowl as a social event or entertainment spectacle, with 49% considering it a sporting event.
That rises a bit when it comes to Millennials, a demographic generally placed in the age range of 18-35, where 55% consider the Super Bowl to be a social or entertaining spectacle as opposed to a sporting event.
Burson-Marsteller also found that Millennials were brand friendly, with 48% of those surveyed responding that they had purchased a product they saw featured in a game day ad during Super Bowl XLVIII.
In addition, 33% Millennials would prefer a boring Super Bowl with great commercials, versus a great game with boring commercials, according to the survey.
How key is this demographic for companies and businesses looking to reach an audience as vast as that on Super Bowl Sunday, when more than 100 million viewers will tune in?
A report released late last year by the White House's Council of Economic Advisors said that Millennials "are now the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S.," comprising nearly one-third of the population in America.
According to the Council report, "With the first cohort of Millennials only in their early thirties, most members of this generation are at the beginning of their careers and so will be an important engine of the economy in the decades to come."
The correlation between Millennials and the Internet and the growth of social media runs deep, which is having an impact on how brands are reaching them during the Super Bowl and other times.
"Millennials are more connected to technology than previous generations and a quarter of Millennials believe that their relationship to technology is what makes their generation unique," according to the White House's Council of Economic Advisors study. "While all generations have experienced technological advances, the sheer amount of computational power and access to information that Millennials have had at their fingertips since grade school is unparalleled.
"Among Millennials, 48% of those surveyed said that they had purchased a product they saw featured in a game day ad during Super Bowl XLVIII."
Among other findings in the Burson-Marsteller survey, 82% of Millennials are expecting to check social media or news outlets during the big game, 37% of them plan to make five or more posts and 69% of Millennials feel that social media brings them closer to the game.
That is in keeping with the recent report from the White House, which offered, "Three-quarters of Millennials have an account on a social networking site, compared with only half of Generation Xers and less than a third of the Baby Boomers."
Also of little surprise is the rise in the number of brands that flag their Super Bowl messages with a hash tag. In 2012, only 25% of Super Bowl commercials mentioned hashtags or social media accounts. In 2013, that doubled. And last year, hashtags or social media were mentioned in 57% of Super Bowl XLVIII ads, according to MarketingLand.com.
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