Thursday, January 24, 2013

How High Is Up for Super Bowl Commercials?

The Super Bowl is our nation's annual day of coming together with a shared interest. It could be the football game. But often, and especially in connection with exuberant parties of friends, the interest turns to the television commercials.

Which commercial is best? Which one made everyone laugh? Which one gave us the warmest tug? Which one gave us a new idea of what advertising can be?

We don't have a BCS committee or a national tourney for advertising. However, thanks to USA Today, we do have that newspaper's annual Ad Meter Survey to provide a metric for the commercials which garnered greatest favor.

Since 1989, USA Today has been gathering samples of Super Bowl viewers to use an "Ad Meter" device to track their "liking" for each commercial. The meter dials range from a high of 10 on downward.

Here is a figure showing the ratings for the top ten commercials since 2002.

Looking to the left-hand side of the the figure, you can see that through 2004 the best commercial topped out at 9 or slightly above. This was true in the earlier years as well.

Then, in 2005, there was a noticeable drop in the top ten ratings. Since 2004 no commercial has passed the 9-point level.

Indeed, the overall trend suggests a curious period of doldrums from which Super Bowl commercials appear to be emerging in 2012.

There are many possible explanations. One is the national controversy triggered by the "Wardrobe Malfunction" during the 2004  half-time show. An understandable aspect of risk aversion may have ensued.

In any event, the Super Bowl advertising question for 2013 is, "How high is up?" Will this be the first year in almost a decade in which the top commercial surpasses the 9-point level?

Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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