The Super Bowl vs. the Oscars: Celebrity Marketing During Television’s Biggest Nights

5121440257_97940c7038_zWhile the Super Bowl’s commercials get the most buzz, it is the Oscars that pulls in the profit.

There is no denying that Super Bowl Sunday is television’s biggest night. Each year, the event consistently dominates national ratings, with all 21 of America’s most watched programs in history being Super Bowls. They’re a true staple of American culture.

In a rapidly advancing society where people are choosing to forgo live TV for other ad-free options, viewers continue to flock to the Super Bowl for the beloved, wildly entertaining and creative commercials. The participating teams and halftime performers may change every year, but it’s the advertisements that command our attention.

Without a doubt, commercials during the Super Bowl are the most watched ones in the world. Since a 30-second slot can cost up to $5 million, we’re confronted with an age old marketing question: Are the results worth the cost?

For many companies, the attention they receive as a result is worth every penny, but the sheer volume of viewers does not necessarily ensure a massive financial response. People watch Super Bowl ads primarily because of their entertainment value. During the broadcast, numerous brands do their best to leave a lasting impression with consumers, but in the end most merely leave the field overly crowded.

It is a massive audience, but a broad one. People of all demographics watch the game, and though the ads may be fun to watch, most of them apply to only a particular margin of viewers. Not only is it the biggest event on TV, but it has become firmly synonymous with well-made commercials. However, it is not the perfect program for advertisers – that distinction is held by an entirely different but similarly unparalleled show – the Oscars.

With ad prices during the Academy Awards around $2 million and viewership usually about 40 million people, the pinnacle of awards season offers a smaller, more alert audience. Furthermore, viewership during the Oscars tends to skew towards higher income women, making it the ideal option for advertisers hoping to attract that target audience.

Commercials starring celebrities would feel more at home on Hollywood’s biggest night, but it is the viewers themselves who solidify the distinction. A whopping 31.1% of viewers from the 2014 Oscars said that they would be more likely to purchase a product after seeing it advertised during the show. In comparison, only 6.87% of the Super Bowl’s 114.4 million viewers said they would do the same.

If a brand’s goal is simply to increase visibility and social media attention, the Super Bowl is the show for them. To everyone else, the distinctions are clear and the decision is easy. We can watch the Super Bowl to see where the money is being spent – and we can watch the Oscars to see the money get made.

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