Thirty Super Bowl Seconds Don’t Last Very Long
Monday February 18th, 2013 - 1:02PM
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Few housewares companies are able and willing to drop $3.5 million for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl.
That was the going rate this year. But it didn’t deter soda machine marketer SodaStream from running its exploding soda bottle spot during the second half of the big game (CBS reportedly rejected a version of the commercial showing the destruction of bottles by two of the game’s big-time sponsors, Coke and Pepsi).
Running a Super Bowl ad is a badge of honor for upstart companies and brands, a chance to proclaim your arrival alongside the world’s biggest ad spenders on the world’s biggest ad stage.
World's Biggest Stage
Some might recall Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil during the 1997 Super Bowl; and colorful George Foreman grills by Salton prancing across the screen during the 2001 game.
Such spots signify major achievements for their companies. They can generate valuable brand awareness and press buzz. But 30 seconds during the Super Bowl don’t necessarily guarantee a sustained consumer response.
Few companies in the housewares arena can afford a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad, or, for that matter, any type of prolonged needle-moving consumer TV advertising campaign. Even the most successful As Seen On TV marketers deploy a direct-response methodology that is considerably more affordable and measurably less risky than the extended outlay required of traditional TV advertising.
Without huge, steady ad budgets required to sway viewers, many of the most successful consumer brands in the housewares business have had to be built on the backs of the retailers who took chances on the brands before any amount of meaningful consumer promotion was in place to support retail distribution.
Indeed, retail shelf space remains the most cost-effective consumer billboard for most housewares companies.
The opportunity to engage the consumer directly has widened in today’s digitally connected universe. Social media has emerged as what appears to be an irresistibly low-cost alternative to traditional consumer advertising.
But what good is starting an online discussion about a product if people can’t find it on the retail shelves? Developing great products and working closely with retailers to get them on the shelves is still one of the best ways to engage consumers in housewares.
That means retailers must share the burden and risk of helping to build the demand for promising new housewares products. The reward for retailers can be a leading-edge stake in the most successful new product; and an even bigger payoff if and when some of those products advance to more prominent consumer advertising strategies.
Kudos to SodaStream and all the housewares companies and brands that have reached the big ad stage. But it shouldn’t be forgotten they earned that privilege on the merit of compelling products and by securing the support of independent and national retailers that embraced the potential of the products before any national TV advertising campaign was in the picture.
That’s what puts most housewares products on the shelves, and that’s what keeps them there. More so than any 30-second Super Bowl commercial.
Dissecting what Ron Johnson got wrong during his brief, calamitous term at the helm of J.C. Penney is sure to be the focal point of retail strategy and tactics lessons for years to come. But Penney’s future could still hinge to some extent on what he got right.