Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Super Bowl Advertising Worth It?

Every year we are asked our opinion in regard to the value of Super Bowl advertising.  This year, though the mainstay CPG companies are maintaining advertising on the big event, at least seven advertisers from 2010’s game aren’t returning – including Papa John’s, Intel, Monster, Dr. Pepper, Denny’s, Universal Orlando and KGB.  The published cost of a 30-second spot on Fox’s telecast is $3 million.

Companies have always justified the expense for many different reasons – some logical and some merely to feed the ego of a CEO or CMO by participating in one of television’s biggest televised sporting events.

For this year, the non-advertisers have publicly mentioned several reasons for not advertising.  Papa John’s strategy is to increase the number of consumers registered on their website by enticing them with free pizza if the game goes into overtime.  (Note:  Super Bowl Sunday represents the highest sales day for delivered pizza in the United States.)  KGB stated that they are shifting to a “social media strategy”, Intel is going in “new directions”, Denny’s has new leadership and a new agency, and Monster.com is “moving beyond building awareness” (looks like they aren’t concerned about maintaining awareness).

The biggest reason why we aren’t seeing any new advertisers is that many marketers have nothing new to say.  Nearly all companies have had to downsize their investments in product development and innovation and simply aren’t prepared to launch new ideas into the consumer market.

For the remaining advertisers, Super Bowl advertising can simply be justified on the basis of traditional media analysis that is looking for delivery in both reach and frequency against a general consumer audience.  The Super Bowl delivers outstanding viewership only second to the World Cup – global marketers grab these opportunities whenever they can.  (Note:  Fox sold out the Super Bowl in October – advertisers negotiated a much lower per spot cost or negotiated tremendous value-added making the investment extremely worthwhile.)

With all that said, can the tremendous investment be justified by any marketer beyond a mainstay consumer brand?

Here are our criteria for any marketer thinking about advertising on the Super Bowl:

1.  Have something to say.  Unfortunately, many marketers make the investment hoping that the advertising creative gains the attention of the audience versus the actual message.  The main objective is not to entertain the audience, but to distinctly get your brand, product or service message across supported by good creative.  Many advertisers forget this critical point of all successful marketing campaigns.

2.   Make sure it’s the right audience.  If increased brand awareness with the general audience does not give you an advantage, don’t advertise.  Keep in mind that the Super Bowl telecast is a global audience – if you are not investing in your international markets, it may not be a wise choice to advertise.  Noting this advice, there are certain considerations that can make a significant impact with niche or trade targets using expensive sports media as a communications tool.

Here’s an example:

Several years ago, we had a client that had produced an impressive television spot and was interested in gaining as much exposure to the spot as possible.  Unfortunately, their core target audience was residential builders – not consumers.  We developed a unique strategy where we placed one commercial spot on the NCAA Final Four.  Before the telecast weekend, we sent a direct mail promotion to the client’s list of 70,000 builders.   The call-to-action asked builders to watch the Final Four telecast and when they saw the client’s single commercial, right down the names of the competing teams and the actual score of the game at the time of the commercial on a return reply card.  The builder’s card that was randomly selected with the correct teams and score won a free trip to the following year’s Final Four Championship.  We received nearly 17,000 entries or a 24 percent participation return.  More importantly, a large number of builders were informed that the client had a new advertising campaign to support their marketing efforts.  Finally, the increased consumer brand awareness helped launch a successful annual advertising campaign.

3.  Make sure it’s the right budget.  If a Super Bowl investment accelerates your reach and frequency goals while you still have a budget to maintain frequency after the big game – go for it.  Depleting your entire advertising budget on one telecast will not give you the return in terms of brand awareness increases or maintenance.

4.  Make sure you can creatively compete.  Super Bowl Commercials are now viewed more for the entertainment value than the marketing message.  It is a very competitive arena where the majority of viewing consumers automatically become advertising critics.  If you are not capable of delivering your brand or product message in a way that stands out from the competition – don’t advertise.

5.  Ensure your investment has legs.  Since it is a major advertising investment, make sure you also budget for integrated support in terms of channel events, sales promotion, public relations and employee communications.  In short, make the most out of your investment and ensure that critical audiences have the opportunity to engage and participate in not just the Super Bowl, but in Your Super Bowl Event.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mark Buckley Joins Avant Marketing Group

The Avant Marketing Group announces the addition of Mark Buckley as partner in the market planning and research firm.  Buckley has extensive marketing and brand communications experience across a wide spectrum of industries including agriculture and food production, animal health and nutrition, energy, hospitality, financial, manufacturing, technology and government categories.
Buckley complements Avant’s expertise in marketing, creative strategies and business development.  Previously, he was founder of Swing Shift Creative, his own marketing communications creative consultancy.  He has also held key leadership positions for advertising agencies, design firms and marketing companies including Fiserv, ProWolfe Partners and Osborn & Barr Communications.
Buckley earned his B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Commercial Art from Drake University.  He currently sits on the boards of the AIGA/St. Louis Chapter, the Lupus Foundation of America/Heartland Chapter and The Center for Women in Transition.
“We are extremely pleased to add Mark to our expert staff,” commented Mark Vogel, Avant senior partner.  “He brings with him a wealth of strategic marketing experience and out-of-box creative thinking that will further assist us in solving client marketing problems.”
Mark Buckley can be contacted at buckleym@avantmarketing.com or by visiting the firm’s website at http://www.avantmarketing.com/.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Has Your Market Changed?

There are definitely strong signs that the economy is on a comeback.  Marketers, who previously reduced planning and implementation budgets, are now initiating marketing investments focused on growth strategies.

But has your customer or consumer changed their buyer values as a result of the recession?

Research shows that consumers, and even b-to-b purchasers, have redefined their core values.  They are making a distinction between wants and needs and are more discriminating in product and brand choice.

Today’s consumers are seeking long-term relationships with their brands that share in those common values.  

As Philip Kotler puts it, “The post-crisis consumer, already highly marketing-savvy and armed with the leveling powers of social connection and critique, is now an even more potent and unpredictable force in the marketplace.  People are looking for value and values.”

Through this evolution, brands are even more important.  Technology now allows us to make purchase decisions not only based on product attributes, but company attributes and values.  The marketing firewall between a product’s image and company image has virtually been dismantled.

Marketers can find new forms of competitive advantage by understanding and sharing in the values that have become more important to consumers.  With the proper market research and planning, marketers can claim newly defined competitive advantages that meet the economic, functional, economic and social needs of today’s marketplace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Avant Marketing Group Named Branding Agency for City of Salinas, California

Salinas City (California) Council on Tuesday named the Avant Marketing Group to lead a unique campaign set to help the city improve its image.
Citing its strength in experience and more significant track record, city staff and an ad-hoc branding committee recommended Avant Marketing Group over Salinas-based TMD Creative Marketing by Design company.
“They were both good proposals,” said Jeff Weir, economic development director.  "But (Avant) had a much stronger proposal.”
Stemming from an idea brought to the council in April, the city sent out a request for proposals to find branding consultants – local and national – willing to lead the effort in marketing the city’s strengths and positive attributes.
According to the scope of project, the initiative will include:  conducting research, hosting informational meetings, identifying markets to target, tradeshow development and creating a logo, and addressing negative perceptions, including crime and the perceived “lack of things to do” in Salinas.
Several key advantages for Avant were cited in the evaluation of proposals including the agency’s extensive market research, brand platform components and proprietary “Living the Brand” training which will be implemented with Salinas community leaders.