- Friday, Feb. 8, 2013
- 0 Comments
Let's do a little musical math, shall we?
As everyone is aware, Super Bowl XLVII ad time was expensive: this past Sunday, CBS got $3.8 million from their sponsors for :30 of airtime, meaning each second equals a cool $126,667. If a composer created a 120 BPM score for that ad, the cost-per-quarter-note (along with everything else going on) is $63,333.50. That means the average four-note sonic logo is part of a package worth $253,334.
Get the picture? In a TV arena where everything is maximally magnified, the choice of music and sound for a Super Bowl ad really counts. The thought that goes into sonic branding--whether it comes from original music, sound design, and/or a licensed track--is high-stakes, and it has got to do its job: reinforcing messaging and memory recall.
A common thread among virtually all of the Super Bowl ads voted "most memorable" is the application of a strong sonic brand. Advertising agencies and their clients labor all year to ensure their spot cuts through the clutter. To be forgotten soon afterwards is a failure. A great ad (and the occasional in-stadium power failure) will not only live on for weeks afterwards at the water cooler, but garner millions more views, for years, via YouTube.
Sonic branding done right demands attention--viewers taking a momentary break from the game will swivel their heads right back when they hear something intriguing, surprising, or beautifully familiar. Sound, more than picture, has the power to draw Super Bowl partygoers back to the screen and re-activate their attention.
Ultimately, the top spots are the ones with a magical mix of three components: story, visuals and sound. On Super Bowl Sunday, where every quarter note represents a big investment, nailing down that sound means so much. It just might be the reason that millions of people remember your brand clear to next February--and for decades to come.
Here's our list of the All Time Top Five Super Bowl spots by sonic branding success, including the best spot from this year's big game--we like to think of them as "Super Sonics":
1) Coca Cola's "Mean Joe Green"--Super Bowl XIII, 1979 (http://youtu.be/xffOCZYX6F8). Mean Joe Greene accepts a cool bottle from a kid, "Have a Coke and a Smile" kicks in, and Super Bowl sonic branding history was made forever. The positive associations from this ad endured for generations, as evidenced by the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII remake for Coke Zero featuring Troy Polamalu http://youtu.be/sjII6F-nJBQ.
2) Chrysler's "Born of Fire"--Super Bowl XLV, 2011 (http://youtu.be/TzdXzb5Bdbk). The darkly tense hip hop track "Lose Yourself" captured the soul of the city, and perfectly reflected the spot's visual imagery. This emotion-stirring "Imported from Detroit" commercial starring Detroit rapper Eminem inspired people to talk about Detroit -- and Chrysler by extension.
3) Budweiser's "Frogs"--Super Bowl, XXIV, 1995 http://youtu.be/WkavReH4LE0. Talk about a watercooler classic - the three frogs croaking "Bud..." "Weis..." "Er" strongly associated an innovative sound design with this iconic American brand. It was funny, and gave the world something they could gladly croak along to.
4) Volkswagen--Super Bowl XLV, 2011 http://youtu.be/R55e-uHQna0. A pint-sized Darth Vader used the Force when he discovered the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat in the driveway. The essential use of John Williams' classic motif from the Star Wars franchise is a huge part of why this ad remains strong in people's minds, two years later.
5) Budweiser--Super Bowl XLVII, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs. The mega-brewer returns with "Brotherhood", the tale of a trainer reunited with a beloved Clydesdale. Fleetwood Mac's emotional "Landslide" was the perfect backing track - its oft-covered status makes it a song choice that spans time. Will people think of Budweiser now when they hear it on the air? We're betting yes.
Stephen Arnold is founder of Stephen Arnold Music, Dallas, TX.