The View From the Couch

Consumers weigh in on the quality, number and timing of Big Game ads

Twenty years ago, the electrifying introduction of Apple’s Macintosh transformed the final showdown of the football season into the greatest advertising event of the year. With one dramatic hurl of a sledgehammer, Chiat/Day’s heroine heralded an era in which the game’s commercials are almost as hyped as the game itself.

Since 1984, the average cost of a 30-second time slot on the Super Bowl—the most expensive advertising event of the year—has ballooned from $400,0000 to $2.3 million. Eager to be a part of the extravaganza, perennial advertisers keep making the hefty investment. Budweiser, the game’s exclusive national beer sponsor for more than a decade, will be back this Sunday with ten 30-second units (see advertiser chart on page 8). In recent years, even pre- and post-game coverage has become a draw for advertisers. This year, for example, Sony will air nine PlayStation 2 spots during CBS’s pregame coverage. While some mainstays of years past, like Nike and Master Lock, now shun the media frenzy, each game brings a host of marketers lining up to take their place. The world’s largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, has finally entered the scene, making its Super Bowl debut with a Charmin spot that touts the toilet paper as the “softest and strongest … for your end zone.” Other first-timers include Staples and Levitra, which along with Cialis promises to deliver a showdown between erectile-dysfunction drugs.

From silly to serious, the game is always worth a watch. At least, that’s what we think. Do consumers agree? We commissioned Opinion Dynamics Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., to find out. These are the results of a national telephone poll of 1,159 adults (52 percent female, 48 percent male) conducted Jan. 16-18 and Jan. 20.

Does it matter to you which TV network airs the Super Bowl?



All respondents 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

Yes 8 9 7 7 6 8

No, 91 90 92 93 93 89

Not sure 1 1 1 - 1 3



In general, do you like watching television commercials a lot, some, not very much or not at all?



All 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

A lot 7 12 10 5 3 6

Some 29 35 35 28 24 27

Not very much 30 27 24 36 32 27

Not at all 33 25 29 31 40 39

Not sure 1 1 2 - 1 1



Do you think ads during the Super Bowl are of a higher quality than ads during regular programming, a lower quality or about the same quality?



All 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

Higher quality 56 70 70 60 49 35

Lower quality 4 2 3 5 2 5

Same quality 25 20 21 22 29 35

Not sure 15 8 6 13 20 25



Do you think there are too many, too few or just about the right amount of commercials during the Super Bowl?



All 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

Too many 45 36 44 51 42 50

Too few 3 4 2 2 1 2

Right amount 36 47 40 34 31 28

Not sure 16 13 14 13 26 20



Do you have a television equipped with TiVo?



All 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

Yes 9 10 8 10 10 8

No 88 88 90 87 86 86

Not sure 3 2 2 3 4 6



If you have TiVo, do you plan to use it during the Super Bowl telecast?



All 18-35 36-45 46-55 56-64 65+

Yes 37 45 43 25 34 44

No 53 48 50 75 58 39

Not sure 10 7 7 - 8 17