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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Ad Buys Break Records, Create Controversy

Super Bowl ad spending is breaking records this year, with advertisers shelling out an average of $3.7 million per 30-second spot. Some companies are paying as much $4 million.

And while the championship between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers is still five days away, some ads are already making the rounds online, and in some cases, causing controversy.

Volkswagen Ad: “Black Face With  Voices”

Volkswagen’s new commercial features a white Midwestern guy, speaking with a fake Jamaican accent, presumably to emphasize his carefree attitude towards life.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow, appearing on CNN, called the ad “black face with voices.” Others thought it was a good-natured jab at Midwestern sensibilities.

Either way, the ad may be doing its job: gaining attention.

Paul Sweeney, senior media analyst at Bloomberg Industries, says the Super Bowl is a huge platform with 111 million viewers expected this year. While advertisers are spending millions to produce and air the spots, they’re more interested in creating buzz than directly increasing sales.

Buzz More Valuable Than Sales

Research shows that sales don’t always spike right after the Super Bowl. But these days companies are counting on the spots to generate buzz online, to introduce new products or to show investors that they’re willing to invest in their brand.

Forbes reported on a study from the Unviersity of Colorado at Boulder that found the stock price of companies rose shortly after the media began to hype the ads’ upcoming appearance. Even if the ad tanked, the stock climbed.

But Sweeney said it doesn’t always work that way, especially for smaller companies who sink their entire advertising budgets into one Super Bowl ad.

“The stock is actually traded down, because people are concerned that they’re not allocating their advertising budget appropriately,” Sweeney said.

Big Night For CBS

Even CBS isn’t guaranteed a direct cash infusion from the Super Bowl.

Sweeney says networks are lucky to break even on the Super Bowl, since the cost of buying the rights has risen so dramatically in recent years.

Instead, CBS is banking on the promotional value of the game.

“They love the Super Bowl because it is a great promotional platform. You’re going to see a lot of promotions for CBS programming during the Super Bowl,” Sweeney said.


  • Paul Sweeney, senior media analyst at Bloomberg Industries.

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  • Errol Wright

    I’m A Jamaican/Honduran/American…… I think the commercial is funny as hell. People need to chill out and stop being so uptight . I’ll bet you most Jamaicans will find the advert funny.

  • Steve

    i’m african-american..i think the it’s great…

  • Bill Marston

    VW ad? Show it; it’s light, breezy and superficially “about” nothing serious or important.

    So that’s also the way to consider it! LIGHTEN UP.

  • Judy Austin

    Favorite ads: herding cats (we have 4, so we identified!) and the Budweiser clydesdale colt growing up.

  • Rachel Flynn

    It’s hilarious — and a complement to the people of Jamaica — pointing out their positive approach to life. 

  • Ross Aldridge

    I think calling it racist because they use a “black” voice forces the concept of that stereotype on people, like myself, who would have never had that thought… Thanks for putting that in my head.

  • AJ

    If I was in Minnesota in January, I would do anything I could to make myself believe I was in the Carribean.

  • RPCV Ja 74-77

    Needed to do more research, should have been  “sticky bun soon come”  and not “sticky bun come soon”

    After living in Jamaica for 3 years and having Jamaican friends I think most Jamaicans will find it humorous.

  • Bryan

    Love it

  • Art Lopatka

    Another great VW commercial.  Onward.

  • Lavada

    Who cares? The big diversion for the American people returns on Sunday to entertain them from all the BS from our politicians. On Monday, its back to the same old schitt.

    The American people are sheep. They’re comfortable, rich, working. It’s like the Romans,they’re happy with bread and their spectator sports. The Super Bowl means more to them than any right. Jack Kevorkian

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