Apart from the worst international tragedies, very few events capture the attention of a global audience the way that the Super Bowl does. For about five hours early last month, the eyes of virtually the whole world were focused on Houston, Texas, as the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the 51st edition of the National Football League’s modern-era championship game. Despite the game going into overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history, a notable percentage of the estimated 111 million viewers who watched could not even say with certainty who won since they were only really watching for the commercials.
As a business law attorney, I understand that the Super Bowl Sunday has become more than the setting for a sports event. It has evolved in the biggest one-day stage for corporate advertising in the history of our nation and, arguably, the world. This year, companies spent approximately $5 million per 30 seconds of commercial airtime—similar to last year’s numbers—in hopes of putting their products and brands in front of tens of millions of prospective consumers.
Dot-Coms and Hashtags
Over the last several years, television advertising come to accept that consumers are increasingly internet-savvy. More than ever, TV ads—including those during the Super Bowl—use web addresses, Facebook references, and hashtags to direct viewers to find the company or product online. For the first time in several years, this year’s Super Bowl ads included more URLs—web addresses—than hashtags, suggesting that direct access may be more valuable than trending discussions.
Of the 66 national commercials that ran during the Super Bowl game, 26 of them—39 percent—included the company’s web address. By comparison, 20 ads or 30 percent included a hashtag. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign—or #—to allow social media networks like Twitter to track topics of conversation. Remarkably, while hashtags were used in nearly a third of the ads, Twitter and Facebook were explicitly included in just five and four ads respectively.
This year’s use of hashtags in Super Bowl commercials is a continuation of a downward trend since 2014. During that year’s Super Bowl—played in East Rutherford, New Jersey—57 percent of ads included hashtag references—by far the most ever. That same year, 41 percent of ads used web addresses, roughly the same as this year. This indicates that the hashtag craze may be coming to an end. While they can be valuable in tracking consumer interest, the fad seems to have run its course. Over the next few weeks and months, it will be interesting to see if the shift from hashtags to URLs pays off for the companies that bought airtime on the world’s biggest marketing stage.
Guidance for Your Company
Your company may not have any interest in ever buying ads during the Super Bowl, but marketing your business should still be a consideration. In doing so, there are many aspects to consider, including whether your message could leave you open to claims of false advertising or consumer fraud. Contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney today to get the guidance you need regarding your marketing strategies. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm.