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Super Bowl Ads Notch Boffo Nielsens

Posted by: Jon Fine on February 08, 2007

I kind of hate to put myself in the position of defending something as quaint as the 30-second TV ad, but when data comes over the transom showing just how many people saw this year’s Super Bowl ads, well, it gets you to thinkin’.

Says Nielsen in a detailed press release (forgive me, I can’t find it online):

The average commercial aired during Super Bowl XLI received a national television rating among persons older than age two of 32.1 and was viewed by 92.8 million people, according to The Nielsen Company, which today issued a summary of Super Bowl-related advertising measurement results from its media tracking businesses.

I would like to point out that any TV producer would gladly amputate a limb to get these ratings for their actual shows.

Other data:

The big winner: HP’s motorcyling ad, which was seen by 99.5 million people.

Tied for number #1 in most-played back: The consumer-generated Doritos’ ad, specifically the one set at a cash register. Which pokes another hole in the arguyments about “professional” versus “amateur” content. (I do not like this argument. My next column touches on it in a broader look at—bad term alert—user-generated ads; will link to it when it goes up online.)

Getting Nielsen data on which ads get watched is going to make things very interesting.

As for me: I watched the Super Bowl. I also went through the commercials again via DVR. And, I gotta tell you, I don’t even remember seeing the HP ad. Not at all.

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Reader Comments


February 9, 2007 12:26 PM

The HP ad was a classic ad mistake. I watched the ad and kept thinking "Orange County Cycles, Orange County Cycles, Orange County Cycles...." No wonder you can't remember it.

And regarding professional vs amateur:
1. The Rodney King video was arguably the most important video of about 3 years back in the 1990s. It was amateur.
2. Thinking about what would make good movies or tv or music is the hobby of about 15 million teenagers in their bedrooms in front of a mirror. One of them is going to hit gold without getting a communications degree first. These aren't even good odds, it's just guaranteed to happen.

Maybe when everyone has HDTV the cost for HD cameras will be prohibitive, but right now people can cheaply make something that looks good and then spend their otherwise free time on WRITING IDEAS which is the key issue, is it not?

And ideas are not only free, everyone has one.

Akin Arikan

February 12, 2007 10:03 AM

Millions of people seeing ads is nice. Remembering the ad is even nicer. But at $2.3 million for a half minute of TV time, the ads had better do more than spin positive buzz. Doesn't matter whether they were consumer or pro generated.

Being in the internet marketing industry myself, specifically analytics, I never understand how the traditional broadcast media get away with such vague metrics while we in internet marketing always have to deliver hard facts on conversions and sales resulting from internet ad spend.

If you're going to take the risk and expense of doing a superbowl ad in the first place, why not build in a better way for measuring results? Doritos idea of backing their ads up with online web 2.0 content is an awesome step forward. Web marketers can measure the engagement with ads much more closely and provide their offline colleagues with insight on What messages or products engage viewers, which don't? What geographic areas did you reach? Did those same geo areas show a lift in store sales that you can attribute back to the engagement?

Akin Arikan from Unica Corporation

Michael Bellavia

February 13, 2007 01:01 AM

Ha - I'm laughing on many levels. Just read your article in the February 19th edition about the impact of "Citizen Ads." In that same issue there is a big article on Kodak, our client, for whom we just launched a (hopefully) disruptive advertising and marketing campaign in support of the pending release of an equally disruptive inkjet printer. [Disclosure - I am the GM of Animax Entertainment] On behalf of Kodak, we launched and some funny videos on YouTube in conjunction with a live event held at the SNL Studio (see the Business Week photo on page 49) on Tuesday, February 6th. By that Saturday, February 10th, a regular citizen had already produced and edited a video of his own in a style similar to our "viral" videos As opposed to the Doritos Super Bowl campaign you wrote about, we hadn't even solicited such submissions from the general public so it was a nice surprise. To us, this kind of un-invited "Citizen Ad" is as close as it gets to "Citizen Kane." :)


February 14, 2007 12:37 PM

Excellent article this week Jon.

Hopefully, the success of this year's Super Bowl
"Citizen Ads" such as Dortio's excellent "Check Out Girl," means Americans are growing tired of lame "professional" commercials whose main gag is showing a male getting struck in the nether region.

I wonder if most "professional" advertising today accomplishes what it is supposed to do... sell product! Most ads seem to be a failed attempt at an amusing 30-second bit that just happens to be sponsored by product X.

"Professional" television commercials have become increasingly predictable and annoying. Some of the "Citizen Ads" proved to be the best, most memorable bits of content during the Super Bowl (aside from Rex Grossman tripping over himself during the game).

"Professional" ad creators should take notice because the rules are changing. And hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard!

Will Waugh

February 15, 2007 07:29 AM

Uh, wasn't Rodney King something like 15 years plus ago?

Anyway, the numbers for the Super Bowl were phenomenal, viewer recall was high, people were hooked to the TV....but the big criticism is that advertisers missed the boat on the online executions (except Nationwide in particular)

Your thoughts on this? What they could do better?

Rick Short

February 26, 2007 07:07 PM

I liked your article in BW (19 Feb, p24, WHAT MAKES “CITIZEN ADS’ WORK). I am very interested in this topic, and actually spoke on it a bit at a B2B Marcom forum in Tampa last week.

I particularly appreciated your statement that “pro” isn’t always better. I am an electronics assembly materials supplier (B2B) who has embarked on the production of our industry’s first online video ads ( , all created in a very NON-pro manner. They have had a very positive reaction (last week they were the talk of our industry’s largest trade show (

So, while I am not a “user”, I am creating content in the same manner, in the same spirit – and it is working quite well.

As for your question about whether or not consumers get excited about soap, we do have consumers, in our B2B realm, who get very excited about electronics assembly materials. You can see evidence at Dr. Lasky’s blog .

Rick Short
Director: Corporate Communications

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