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The Big Game 2013

How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

Look to radio for reach, receptivity and community

Football fans around the country geared up for weeks before last Sunday's Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers and their opposing coaches—brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, who took sibling rivalry to new heights.

The big game did not disappoint.

From the power outage to the 49ers mounting an almost-comeback to that electric Beyoncé performance—there was no shortage of drama. And the commercials were no exception. 

For marketers, advertising during the Super Bowl is a once-a-year moment of unprecedented reach and consumer attention. Never does advertising have a more captive audience. But most brands can’t afford the $3.8 million it takes to buy just a 30-second spot. What’s more, everyday TV buys don’t come close to generating the awareness of a Super Bowl spot—and in fact, can be a fumble for brands. 

The magic of the Super Bowl ad spectacle is that rare alchemy of reach, receptivity and community. Don't underestimate the power of community; at a time when we are more plugged in than ever through email, Twitter and Facebook, what many of us actually yearn for is to feel really connected. That’s the feeling we get when we’re sitting around the living room with family and friends, engaged in a common experience—like the Super Bowl. But if you want to achieve Super Bowl-sized results all year, radio is the only medium that delivers a Super Bowl kind of reach, receptivity and community year round.

When you were watching the big game, you were likely surrounded by family and friends, quaffing beer, munching on seven-layer dip, and in a great mood (unless your team was being trounced). You were receptive to ads because you were feeling positive, upbeat, connected. For the rest of the year, radio is the medium that can deliver that same receptivity. Research conducted recently by the Media Behavior Institute (MBI) about a redesigned sedan showed that customers were most receptive to its radio message when they were in their cars with their spouses while en route to a vacation or feeling confident and happy. In fact, 75 percent of adults reported feeling positive while listening to AM/FM radio.

The Super Bowl is one of the rare times consumers aren’t flipping the channel when TV commercials air. Viewers then talk about them for days; the best ads are recalled for years. But more than any other medium, radio has the highest retention rate during commercial breaks for myriad reasons, especially entertaining and informative programming. It’s no surprise that consumer research deeply informs radio stations’ programming.

If you’ve just heard a block of your favorite hip-hop or classic rock songs, you are more receptive to the ad messages that follow and more likely to sit through the whole commercial block rather than change the channel. Also, a radio spot is often the last thing consumers hear before leaving their homes or cars and entering a supermarket or other retail environment. And we all know how difficult a catchy ad is to shake. (Who can forget Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius” radio spots some years back?)

A celebrity endorsement is a powerful thing when it comes to advertising in the Big Game.  In radio, DJs play the role of celebrity, but with even more influence. Live personalities make radio an around-the-clock companion 365 days a year, and that combination provides a sense of intimacy with listeners when they’re working an overnight shift, driving late at night or waking up in the morning. In this regard, DJs play a crucial role for artists, listeners and advertisers. These personalities are valued, trusted people in a local or even national listening community. They differ from TV personalities because they are more accessible. They take calls for opinions and song dedications from listeners. If a radio DJ endorses something, it’s like word-of-mouth marketing and can be as effective as a recommendation from a friend.

One important way that advertising during the Super Bowl and on radio differ is cost. Our own in-house research recently found that major quick-service restaurant, automotive and financial-services brands that reallocated up to 15 percent of their media spends from TV to radio achieved better reach and receptivity of ad messages without losing TV reach or increasing their overall media spend. In fact, when a challenger-brand QSR shifted 15 percent of its TV dollars to radio, audience reach increased 12 percent and receptivity to its messages jumped a whopping 84 percent.

In other words, while once-a-year Super Bowl ads tend to garner headlines in January, radio can be a touchdown for any advertiser in any quarter (of the year).

Radha Subramanyam (@radhas2) is evp, Insights, Research and Analytics at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.

 

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