The Super Bowl is always a contest in brand exposure. Last night’s half-hour power failure scrambled the equation for broadcasters and advertisers as well as the two teams. Here’s a Monday morning breakdown of who won and who lost the reputation game.
Mercedes-Benz: In 2011, Mercedes-Benz USA convinced its German parent, Daimler (DAI:GR), to do something it had never done before: agree to a naming rights deal at a U.S. sports venue. The company, according to the Times-Picayune, paid $50 million to $60 million over 10 years to put its name on the Superdome in New Orleans. Last night, according to Eric Smallwood, an analyst at Front Row Marketing Services, the carmaker got more than half of its money’s worth. Front Row’s tracking of logo appearances and name mentions during the entire two weeks of TV coverage showed airtime worth nearly $33 million for Mercedes. The game alone accounted for $26 million. Smallwood says the company got an extra $3 million from the power outage, when the broadcast repeatedly showed a logo on the inside of the dome’s roof that would otherwise almost never make it on the air. Dim lights are probably not the association Mercedes had in mind, but it’s all gravy, says Smallwood: “The car is about luxury and moving fast. It’s not so focused on headlights.”
Nabisco (MDLZ): When the lights went dim on the Superdome roof, Oreo’s digital marketing services, 360i, had this tweet out 10 minutes later. The fast-thinking quip echoed through social media via nearly 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 Facebook (FB) “Likes.”
SodaStream (SODA): The fizz maker is a small fish when it comes to Super Bowl ad buyers, but Chief Executive Officer Dan Birnbaum decided to splurge for a 30-second spot. In the end, he scored twice: once with an ad that, as the company told the world, was banned by CBS (CBS) for its sharp attack on Coca-Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) (and has now racked up more than 3.8 million views on YouTube (GOOG) as the “Unaired SodaStream Ad”), and again with a slightly toned-down version that aired during the game. It was both guerrilla and old-fashioned marketing all at once.
PepsiCo: SodaStream got its jab in, but don’t cry for Pepsi. The company’s return to sponsoring the halftime show, after a five-year stint for Bridgestone (5108:JP), netted nearly $7 million in exposure, according to Front Row. And that doesn’t count the goodwill Pepsi earned when the “finger flashlights” it gave out to fans turned out to be especially handy.
PBS: The broadcaster’s Sunday night turn-of-the-century soap opera Downton Abbey has been a ratings godsend, but even as counter programming it stood to take a hit from the gargantuan game. The ratings numbers aren’t in yet, but the power interruption could well have softened the blow. Dim light in New Orleans must have reminded at least a few fans of the beautiful lamps they were missing.
CBS: As Will Leitch noted over at Sports on Earth, America’s most-watched network’s response to the power interruption was amateur at best. At worst, it brought to mind a Saturday Night Live “Wake Up and Smile” sketch. The network that brings us 60 Minutes should have covered a story breaking literally overhead with a little more skill.
Go Daddy: The domain host has long made a strategy of using crass Super Bowl ads to boost name recognition. They did it again last night in an ad premised on the preposterousness of a chubby dork being found sexually attractive. Participants in USA Today’s Ad Meter gave it the lowest rating of the night. Maybe that was the plan, but Go Daddy still deserves to be included with the losers.
BlackBerry (BBRY): Piling on the mobile-phone maker as it tries to slow its steady slide into irrelevance with a name change and a new celebrity creative director might be a cheap shot, but the company didn’t help itself with a mediocre ad showcasing what its new touchscreen phone can’t do.