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Super Bowl ads fell flat in 2014, area experts say

Rochester Business Journal
February 3, 2014

Sunday’s Super Bowl ads fell flat according to area experts.

The one-sided game caused many to miss the fourth-quarter ads, and at roughly $4 million for a 30-second slot, the pressure for advertisers to entertain their audience was real.
“If you were some of those marketers buying spots deep in the fourth quarter expecting the game to be really competitive and everyone to be sitting on the edge of their seat…as soon as the second half started they’re probably not very happy,” said Mark Stone, managing partner and chief creative officer for Dixon Schwabl Inc.

The lean towards the sentimental side, the early release of commercials and the pressure to entertain viewers were some factors that helped national ads such as Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” and local ads such as the University of Rochester’s “UR Medicine” slot resonate with viewers.

“As a whole I thought they were sort of lackluster,” said William Murtha, CEO of Roberts Communications Inc. “There was a change in tone: a lot of serious (ads), a lot of patriotism, a lot of lengthy story-telling attempts not the sort of in your face humor which is a lot of the Super Bowl advertising. I think the game was so bad I think people were hanging in just to catch the ads the sort of enjoyable distraction.”

A team of eight at Roberts Communications Inc. tracked more than 4,000 tweets in Rochester during the Super Bowl for its annual #CustomerBowl research report.

“It’s our understanding that a lot of the second screen that happens during political events and during pro sporting events really centers around Twitter,” said Kyle Psaty, digital content strategist, Roberts Communications. “Another thing that makes it nice for us from a data perspective is that Twitter is wide open. So it’s very easy to kind of cull through and pull out all the data and break it down as opposed to Facebook, which I would describe as more of a walled garden.”

Roughly 57 percent of ads used hashtags, a 50 percent increase since 2013.

Local social media conversations centered around pre-game singer Renee Fleming, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music; the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the acclaimed actor from Fairport; and the popular UR Medicine ad, Roberts Communications said.

“The pressure is on so much to entertain for these things that you’ve got people producing with these celebrities that cost a lot of money, crazy special effects, animals talking or who knows,” Stone said. “If you’re trying to get a prime position you’re in for a very heavy financial track.”

 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail

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