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PALM DESERT, Calif. — Super Bowl XLVII was a blowout for franchising firms as the industry dominated the game's television advertising. A commanding 74% of Super Bowl commercials were from companies that franchised. Franchising firms outspent all others combined by an estimated record $56 million dollars, according to the 25th annual survey by the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers (AAFD), a non-profit trade association representing the interests of franchise owners and dealers.
These numbers are even more dramatic when 30 CBS network promotional spots and 14 NFL spots were added to the mix (see top green chart). Both CBS and the NFL have franchised affiliates. If the value of these 44 ads is factored in the amount that franchise companies spent balloons to an estimated $173 million. In all, 74% or 91 ads of some 123 ads that aired during the four-hour game broadcast came from businesses engaged in franchising. These national numbers do not include ads run by local affiliates. If the CBS and NFL affiliates are not factored in, then the ads from these core business format and product distribution franchises are matched more head to head each year. But this year, even here ads from this smaller, more traditionally defined group of franchise establishments dominated non-franchises (see bottom chart).
The American Association of Franchisees and Dealers launched an annual survey of franchise establishment commercials 25 years ago, the Advertising Super Bowl. Its chairman Robert Purvin declares, "Super Bowl advertising continues to demonstrate the power of franchising. How else can small business owners afford to share their messages with more than 100 million households at one time?"
CBS reportedly charged a record average price of almost $3.7 million per 30-second spot ($124,000 per second). The higher cost did not impact advertiser demand. CBS reported it sold out all available national network spots. Each local network affiliate franchise sold about 30 local spots. The total number of spots played during the game earned CBS an estimated $292 million dollars.
Yet for a single 30-second spot, the advertising cost for a 25,000 shop chain such as Subway, which aired three spots this year, breaks down to $148 per U.S. store. "The collective marketing power among franchised businesses is formidable," observes Purvin.
Franchisors that manufacture products that are distributed through independent dealer networks, which are called 'product franchisors' in the trade, easily dominated the ad buys. A robust 37 ads were placed by companies that sell cars, beverages, cosmetics and insurance through independent networks.
Business format franchisors, which are firms that establish standardized formats of how stores do business, accounted for 12 commercials. These included spots from McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway, Taco Bell, Century 21, and regional entries.
Product distribution franchisor Budweiser led all advertisers with 4.5 minutes of air time, the equivalent of about 9 spots. After Budweiser, only 6 advertisers ran more than one or two commercial spots. Buying several minutes of ad time, Hyundai was second to Budweiser. That was followed by Pepsi, which ran several spots for its franchised soft drink brands and its non-franchised Doritos brand. Franchisors Kia, Honda, Lincoln, Chrysler and Toyota all ran multiple spots for various brands.
Manufacturer related ads led the non-franchised segment with 18 spots, including electronics, food producers, pharmaceuticals and two highly-regarded spots from Proctor and Gamble for Tide laundry detergent. Entertainment advertisers, primarily motion picture promos and video games, slid to second place with 8 ads. With 9 ads in 2008, retailers fell off dramatically, with just one ad from Best Buy. On the flip side, on-line retailers held steady, with multiple spots run by Cars.com, GoDaddy.com and E-Trade.
During the game approximately 50 different companies advertised. In addition, there were two public service announcements.
This year's crop of ads was generally praised in comparison to recent years. Two of the most memorable ads were touching and inspirational rather than the typically humorous: a Dodge tribute to farmers narrated by Paul Harvey and a Budweiser spot of a Clydesdale that was connected with its trainer from birth. Both ads were from franchising companies.