This is the time of year is when marketing pundits launch into the inevitable debate of whether it makes sense to advertise on the Superbowl or not. It’s easily the single largest advertising event of the year, and there’s a football game too! Coming a close second to that debate is whether the Internet or TV will become the dominant form of advertising. Both these debates are ridiculous and the reason why is simple. The answer to every question is “yes”.
When i say "yes", i say it to be purposefully vague, because the fact of the matter is that all of the above avenues work, and they work well when you build frequency. In many cases it makes sense to advertise on the Superbowl, and in other cases it doesn't. The same goes for advertising online, or TV in general. For some brands and marketing objectives, they both can be effective or they can both be useless. The debate is a silly one because there’s no right or wrong answer. The decision to advertise on the Superbowl is a strategic decision, as is every other decision a company makes when lay out their marketing efforts.
To advertise on the Superbowl is easy, and in my perspective it can be viewed as a cop out, unless you back it up with other supportive marketing. To advertise on the Superbowl as a one-shot, or as the only element of your campaign, is wasteful. The Superbowl is the ultimate expression of marketing. It is an event, and it is intended to be your crowning achievement for the year or a way to kick-off your campaign. You can reach a significantly larger audience than anywhere else, you generate endless buzz as a result, but if you don't follow that buzz up with some element of continuity through the rest of the year then you're just doing yourself a disservice. It can easily become a waste of money. It's a "one and done" strategy that you hope will carry you through the remainder of the year (hint: it won't).
The debate over Internet vs. Television is similar because it’s a cop-out to think that one or the other will work for you as a stand-alone vehicle for your messaging. You have to use them both and build frequency in the eyes of your consumer. In tandem, the Internet and TV can be a significantly effective one-two punch, and you can generate reach, frequency, engagement and impact in the eyes of your target audience. There is no silver bullet solution anymore, in much the same way that you can't expect to spend your entire budget on a Superbowl ad and expect to drive sales that year.
Integrated marketing is the name of the game, and you have to do it all. In sports you hear that "defense wins championships", and that’s true, but behind every great defense is an offense that is capable of scoring. You may be able to stop the opposing team from scoring, but if you can't score then you can't win the game. The same strategy applies to marketing. You can't focus all your attention against a single tactic and hope it will work, because your audience doesn't operate that way. They’re not one-dimensional, so your marketing can't be one-dimensional either. You need to do your homework, look at the information that’s available to you, and come up with a plan of attack that will balance your messaging against the key metrics of reach, frequency and impact, to drive results. Integrated marketing requires you to come up with a plan that includes multiple avenues to reach your target and do so repeatedly. It requires you to have a back-up plan, and it requires that you build an image in the eyes of your target. You can't do that in one sitting anymore. The days of the Apple "1984" ad are long gone. When that ad ran, the world was a simpler place and a one-time showing could generate impact. These days, that is simply not the case. Your audience is fragmented and there are far more choices for them – you need frequency.
So the simple answer is this; the Superbowl is an amazing advertising opportunity for the right brand, if they’re willing to back it up and support that spot with other components of a marketing plan. It could be Internet, point of sale, even direct mail, but there has to be something to create additional frequency in the eyes of your target audience. The Internet and Television are both important elements of the marketing mix, but you can’t hang your hat on just one single element in the media mix. You have to spread it out.