Should creatives root for a blowout?

SuperbowlAdFreak’s readers may tune into the Super Bowl just to watch the commercials. And an item posted here yesterday finds young adults especially keen on the spots. Nonetheless, the latest edition of the annual Eisner Communications Super Bowl Ad Survey detects a decline in the number of people who regard the commercials as the star of the show. Just 7 percent of respondents said they’ll be watching the telecast simply to see the spots—down 2 percentage points from last year and “the lowest number who report they are tuning in just to watch the ads in years.”

Does this mean Super Bowl spots have become less interesting? More likely, it reflects the fact that the games themselves have been more interesting in recent years. In a post-Bowl analysis last year in Adweek’s beloved “Takes” section, we noted a statistical fluke behind the old notion that the commercials are better than the game. In the five Super Bowls starting with 1984’s (when Apple’s “1984” spot established the broadcast as a creative showcase), the average margin of victory was a yawn-inducing 27.6 points; the smallest was 19 points. With blowouts like that, it was easy for the commercials to seem more exciting than the games. By contrast, the five most recent Super Bowls have been decided by an average margin of 13.4 points, and three of those have been decided by 7 points or less. Obviously, a blowout is bad news for any brand that gambled its ad budget on a spot in the fourth quarter. But it’s beneficial for the comparative reputation of Super Bowl advertising in general.

As of this writing, the betting line has the Patriots favored over the Eagles by a touchdown. Ad-agency creatives who have no other rooting interest on Sunday should hope the Pats tack an extra couple of touchdowns onto that margin.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver