Why the Super Bowl 2012 is a barometer for marketing

Ruth Mortimer is Marketing Week’s associate editor and a prolific blogger. She won a PPA Award for her forthright and insightful columns on marketing.

The Super Bowl 2012 ads are more than just big-budget, show-off marketing moments for brands. I see the Super Bowl ads as a barometer for the collective psyche of global and American marketers. Each year, companies parade their new campaigns, novel products and big messages during the TV breaks at the sports event.

What do I mean? Well, during the recession of 2009, the trade-in service Cash4Gold took an ad in a slot more often dominated by brands like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the ilk. It was a sign of a shift in economic forces; suddenly, the brands with money were those benefiting from everyone else having less of it.

This year, the usual suspects lined up for their Super Bowl moment: Honda, Budweiser, Audi, Coca-Cola, General Electric and so on. There were a few less high profile names – domain hosting business GoDaddy, tax software business TaxACT and finance company E-trade. But this year was mainly about the big brands.

This seems like a fair reflection of what is going on in the wider world. Brands are focusing on their core businesses and investing in their strongest assets. In the US, there are signs of a slight economic recovery, so companies with large American operations perhaps feel confident enough to put themselves on the Super Bowl stage.

With so many big brands taking part, there is also the message that despite a potential recession in Europe this year, business is continuing as usual. We had a recession in the last few years already and the world did not end. Most major businesses survived and some even made money. It is a tough environment for companies but all is not lost.

But which individual ads got the most views at this weekend’s Super Bowl? At the time of writing, according to online measurement firm Visible Measures, Audi’s Vampire Party lies in 5th place; Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ in 4th; Acura’s ‘Transactions’ in 3rd; Volkswagen’s ‘The Dog Strikes Back’ in 2nd; and Honda’s Ferris Bueller spoof ‘Matthew’s Day Off’ is in 1st position.

You can watch them below.






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