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Will $4M Super Bowl Ad Prices Open Doors For PR?

Last year's Samsung Super Bowl ad starring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd.

Last year’s Samsung Super Bowl ad starring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd.

Super Bowl ads have gotten so huge that a large portion of the population will actually put up with a football game to watch them. Knowing the demand is high and the supply limited, Fox is said to be charging $4 million for each 30-second spot. That price is so exhorbitant, it’s giving some marketers pause. Despite the exposure — the pre-Super Bowl buzz when the ads are “leaked,” the 100 million-plus people tuning in (Nielsen put the number at 108.4 million this year), the replaying and ranking of the ads the next day — some companies are opting out.

Century 21, Subway, and Cars.com are choosing to sit out this Super Bowl because, they say, they’d like to get the international audience offered by the Winter Olympics, which will kick off five days later. According to a professor from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern who spoke on the topic with MarketWatch, in terms of budget, a marketer can advertise several times during Winter Olympics for the same price as one ad on the Super Bowl. And with ads becoming more elaborate for the Super Bowl, there’s the cost of production to consider. If you don’t have a big message, why bother?

It makes you wonder if the Winter Olympics is fixing to steal a little bit of thunder from the Super Bowl. That $4 million price tag should come with a bit of longevity. With the Winter Olympics coming so quickly on the heels of the big football game, attention will quickly move on. Though there’s some risk there too because of backlash against Russia’s homophobic new law.

If you’re a marketer, you might opt for a strategic PR program that will generate buzz — perhaps alongside an ad buy of some sort — and get you through the two-plus weeks of all of the sporting events. This is an opportunity for publicity to show the power of a strong social media program; to showcase what YouTube can do at a time when lots of people will be checking out the ads on that site, to create a Vine video (or a series of them) that encapsulates how the brand fits into these historic events, and this is a time where getting fans to send in their brand-related images and ideas and showcasing them online or in a less expensive Olympics spot might be a good way to go.

This doesn’t even take into account the things that can be done on the ground. No doubt, some companies are sending their PR reps to unleash some magic for guests at the actual events.

This isn’t to say the Super Bowl won’t be tremendous. It most certainly will. And there are companies that will gladly fork over that steep asking price. But the situation this year leaves the door ajar for alternatives. Wily PRs have a chance to slip through with a gold medal idea. (Sorry.)

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