THE BLOG

The Day the Circus Comes to Town

02/02/2015 14:45 GMT | Updated 04/04/2015 10:59 BST

Never mind the sporting sideshow, as a media phenomenon the Super Bowl is a mind-boggling numbers-fest.

This year a 30 second advertising slot set advertisers back $4.5million. And then there's the production costs required to fill that airtime. Those start at $1million but can go much, much higher. The spine-tingling Chrysler commercial featuring Clint Eastwood cost a reported $12.4m to make. (Presumably a large chunk of which went towards Mr. Eastwood's retirement fund.)

Can this circus really be worth it, for the advertiser with one eye on the bottom line? To answer that, let's continue with the numbers-fest.

The Super Bowl is the most watched event in the US; 111.5million viewers watched it live last year. Last year's broadcast also inspired 2300 Tweets a second. Even pre-Super Bowl activity pulls in impressive audiences; Budweiser's 2015 teaser has already clocked up six million views.

Someone, armed with a calculator has worked out that it costs around 40 cents per person to reach that audience of 111.5 million. There is simply no other way to connect with 223 million eyeballs so cost-effectively.

So the answer is yes. The circus is worth it.

And now for a small confession: all these stats and numbers aren't really my thing. They were kindly supplied by our Head of Strategy, Simon White. Stats are very much Simon's thing.

For me, to ask whether advertising in the Super Bowl is commercially justifiable is to ask the wrong question. As a Chief Creative Officer, I'd like to ask whether the Super Bowl is culturally worth it?

You see, the thing about the commercials in the Super Bowl is that they represent our industry at its very best. The ads are pure entertainment. There is no hard sell, no offer of a free pen if you request further information.

It is that rare occasion when client and advertising agency put aside their creative differences and unite in a common purpose - simply to be momentous, to be likeable, to move people, to make them giggle and above all to make them feel good.

For the rest of the year we invade people's front rooms and shout at them. We badger consumers and try to irritate them into buying the things we have to sell.

Which is weird. Because there are reams and reams of research that suggest the more entertaining and interesting advertising is, the more commercially effective it is likely to be. But frustratingly we seem to forget that for 364 nights of the year.

One last statistic courtesy of our Strategy Head; a 2010 Nielsen Survey found that 51% of people watch Superbowl for the commercials and not the game.

So consumers are actively opting into the advertising. More than that, they are happily sharing it and Tweeting about it, before, during and after the game. And all because what they are watching is specifically designed to be worth talking about.

Just think how much more commercially potent our industry would be if clients and advertising agencies produced that kind of creative work across the whole year instead of just for this one event?

I don't know one end of an American football from the other. I neither know nor care who contested this year's game. But I love the Super Bowl.

I love it because it showcases the amazing talent in our industry and demonstrates what it is capable of when it is actually allowed to do its job. And that is to produce emotionally motivating creative work that real people actually want to engage with.