UVA Darden Professor Kim Whitler Breaks Down Super Bowl Ad ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’

01 February 2019

By Caroline Newman

Like many Americans, University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Kimberly Whitler will tune into this Sunday’s Super Bowl not just for the game, but for the ads.

While the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams duke it out on the field, major companies will compete to see who can make the most of the priciest advertising slots in television.

Thirty-second spots cost about $5 million, and that’s just for the airtime; celebrity guest stars and high production values will run up the tab. In return, companies can promote their brand and message to the biggest live television audience of the year.

Whitler, a Darden Marketing area professor who has led marketing efforts for major corporations like Procter & Gamble, will be watching to see which companies nail it, which companies whiff and what marketing trends the ads reveal.

We spoke with her to learn more about the ads she expects to see this year and her favorites from past years.

Q. Companies pay millions for these 30-second spots. What makes it worth it?

A. The Super Bowl is one of those rare events that millions watch in real time, rather than streaming or watching in different time slots. It attracts north of 110 million viewers, which is astronomical. The next-most-watched television event is about 30 million. If you need to get a message out quickly to a broad group, it’s a great way to make an impact.

The Super Bowl also provides an unusual level of consumer engagement. Viewers don’t ignore ads; they are part of the event. People want to watch them, want to discuss them. Companies also get a lot of free earned media coverage before, during and after the game. Already this week, media outlets are showing ad previews and analyzing them. Companies are promoting their ads on social media and tying them into larger campaigns.

This story originally appeared on UVA Today.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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