Is the Super Bowl still a valuable platform for studios to their promote movies? Maybe not.
According to studies from TiVo, Hulu, Twitter and USA Today that tracked the response of ads that played during Sunday’s big game, not one film wound up on their lists of the most remembered spots.
Paramount’s ad for “The Dictator” scored highest, in the 14th slot on TiVo’s poll. Pic also was the most viewed movie trailer on Hulu’s AdZone poll, followed closely by Disney and Marvel’s “The Avengers.”
Studios bought ads for eight films during the Super Bowl, less than last year, when 13 pics were represented. This year’s figure doesn’t include ads for Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” and Sony’s “21 Jump Street” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” because those spots aired during NBC’s pre-game show.
After “The Dictator,” TiVo, which tracks viewer behavior rather than votes, found that “The Avengers” ranked 33rd as the most engaging and rewound ad of the night, followed by the 3D release of “Star Wars” (38), the upcoming “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (43), “Battleship” (51), “Act of Valor” (56), “The Lorax” (58), “John Carter” (65) and “Safe House” (90).
“What pushes you to the top is rewinding something to watch it again,” said Jonathan Steuer, VP of product and business development in the audience research and measurement group of TiVo.
The company tracked 41,000 households. Commercials that scored above 55 were watched more than the game itself, meaning they tallied lots of repeat viewing.
“Act of Valor” was the final movie spot shown during the game, playing during the fourth quarter.
Movies weren’t among the most tweeted ads, according to Brand Bowl 2012, which ranks brands based on volume chatter (for the second year in a row, Doritos had the most-talked-about ads on Twitter with 48,687 tweets, up from 34,063). And according to USA Today’s Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter poll, not a single movie ranked in the top 20, although “The Avengers” came in at No. 22. The next closest was “The Lorax” and “G.I. Joe 2” at 39 and 40, respectively.
In Hulu’s survey, film ads didn’t fare any better, missing from various categories. “The Dictator” and “The Avengers” were the most viewed trailers on its site.
However, “Star Wars” did stand out, with Volkswagen’s “The Bark Side” and “The Dog Strikes Back” spots, which tied into the sci-fi franchise, ranking high with Hulu AdZone voters in the No. 1 and No. 3 spots, respectively, as the most liked ads. An overall reference to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” starring Matthew Broderick in an ad for Honda’s CRV vehicle, also played well, landing in the No. 2 position.
Doritos’ user-created “Man’s Best Friend” commercial ranked highest with TiVo viewers, landing on the company’s top 10 list again for a sixth consecutive year with its user-generated commercials.
The success of the “Dictator” spot is in keeping with the success of humorous Super Bowl ads in the past. TiVo found comedic commercials to be the most popular ads with viewers since 2003, signaling that studios may want to hype comedies in the future, or take a more laff-oriented approach in their ads.
Film ads, not surprisingly, scored better in polls that focused specifically on movies.
MovieTickets.com found the 3D release of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” ranked as the most popular film-related Super Bowl commercial, although those surveyed said they were most convinced to see “The Avengers” in theaters when it bows May 4. Company surveyed 2,000 active moviegoers, with 63% of them saying they watched the entire game.
Men remembered “Avengers” the most, while women sparked to “The Phantom Menace” and “The Lorax.”
But “Avengers” ranked highest among both genders and all age groups encouraged to see the film in a theater, vs. other films advertised Sunday night.
Analysts pointed to several reasons for the poor showing of most film spots during the Super Bowl.
“The thing about movie trailers is that people know they are available in a million different other places,” Steuer said. Because of that, Super Bowl viewers tend to gravitate toward ads they haven’t seen before or may never see again.
“Every single one of these trailers, except for ‘The Dictator’ and ‘The Avengers,’ I’d seen in a movie theater in the last month. Do something else and promote the fact that you’re showing something you’ve never seen before.”
With the same show-me-something-new sentiment, studios are “running the same ad they would air at 8 p.m. on NBC on a Thursday night,” said Jarrod Moses, president and CEO of United Entertainment Group. “The creative is lame and the buildup is non-existent.”
Instead, studios should consider a campaign that “leads up to a reveal on the Super Bowl” or invest more ad dollars to make the spots longer to buy a bigger impact, Moses suggests. “Make it a mini movie and lead up to it in a big way. You can’t treat movie ads like any other commodity or packaged good. When you do that you ad get lost in the mix.”
A studio may also consider sponsoring the halftime show itself. Both last year’s halftime show and this year’s event were viewed more than the game itself, according to TiVo, with Madonna’s perf generating the highest viewership numbers in the past four years.
Analysts still feel the championship game is an invaluable platform for studios, though, and this year’s Super Bowl again broke viewership records, attracting 111.3 million people.
But in order to stand out, studios need to turn the unveiling of their new movie trailers into an event.
“The medium and the slot of a Super Bowl placement is still the best placement you can buy in the United States and potentially even globally, given the power and impact,” Moses said. “But you have to follow it up with great excitement.”
Volkswagen chose to tease its “Star Wars”-themed campaign online during the week leading up to the Super Bowl after successfully launching “The Force” on the web last year. Honda’s “Ferris Bueller” ad also was teased early to generate buzz.
But “the brands with the top three most watched commercials did not preview their commercials online, proving traditional television debuts of commercials still holds value to rise to the top,” said TiVo’s Tara Maitra, senior VP and general manager, content and media sales.
Sony opted to pass on the Super Bowl and produce its own event for the unveiling of new footage for “The Amazing Spider-Man,” unspooling an extended look at the reboot of the web slinger in theaters in 13 cities on Monday to promote a new trailer bowing online at midnight. Pic bows July 3.
“As we were looking to debut the next trailer, it was important to us to share it with some of our most dedicated fans first,” said Marc Weinstock, president of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures. “We’re thrilled that we were also able to bring our cast and filmmakers together with moviegoers from all over the world to premiere the trailer and give them a special sneak peek at some extended footage.”