Despite Creative Executions, Sight, Sound and Motion Distract from Advertisers’ Messages -- In Contrast to Radio's Ability to Communicate More Direct and Personal Messaging

NEW YORK, NY – February 20, 2013 – Despite unprecedented hype around television ads that ran during this year’s Big Game, many viewers said they didn’t watch them – and even when they did, consumer recall of brands advertising during the game was uniformly low, according to a research study conducted by Nielsen Entertainment for the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).  Although the game brings out the advertising industry’s best commercials, the results of the study show the limitations of television ads in selling products and highlight the fact that sight, sound and motion can distract from advertisers’ basic messages -- in contrast to radio, where the audio message is more direct and personal and is not obscured by video or picture.

While ad recall may have been as high as 57 percent, on average, only 12 percent of viewers could recall the type of product being advertised.  Similarly, the brand was recalled by only 14 percent of viewers, on average, but in several cases by fewer than 1 in 10 viewers.  “The strength of radio’s unique audio delivery drives product and brand recall,” stated Erica Farber, RAB President and CEO, “As recent studies have proven, radio performs tremendously to extend brand awareness established on TV and further, impacts product and brand awareness as a stand-alone and when added to a TV campaign.”

For example, of half the ads tested, recall of the types of products being advertised was below 10 percent among viewers of the game.  More importantly, when asked to name the brand of the product being advertised on an unaided basis, most viewers could not link the brand to the ad, even for the ads that had higher recall themselves.  As with recall of the product category, for most ads, brand recall was in the single digits.

The ads not only generated low brand recall, but also had little impact on viewers’ perceptions of the brands.  Additionally, only 15 percent of game viewers said they later looked for the ads or related content online; only 9 percent posted, tweeted, or shared links about the ads; and as few as 7 percent claimed that they actually looked for more information online about the advertised products or brands.

Companies paid an average of $4 million for a 30-second spot during this year’s Big Game, played Sunday, February 3, 2013 between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.  Radio works hard to register a marketer’s message at a fraction of the cost. 

The survey consisted of online interviews conducted on February 6, 2013 with 750 respondents aged 18-54 who said they had watched the game and saw any of the ten ads in question.

Respondents who said they had seen each of the ads in question while they were watching the Big Game were asked to answer the following unaided questions: 

“What type of product or service was being advertised in the TV ad…?"
“What was the actual brand name of the product advertised in the TV ad...?” 

The ads were described as “The TV ad where…” 

  • An animated black goldfish swam around singing “No Diggity”
  • Paul Harvey narrated a tribute to the American Farmer
  • Tracy Morgan from 30 Rock talks in front of a giant flag
  • People were all having a hard time trying to pronounce the month of FebuANY
  • A woman is saved by a lifeguard who punches a shark, then leaves him for an astronaut
  • A man leaving the house realizes his sleeping girlfriend is wearing his favorite t-shirt
  • A wife wins big on a scratch-off card in a mini mart while her husband chokes on a hot dog
  • A young son asks his father where babies come from
  • The celebrities Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are called in to audition for the same ad
  • A man walking down the street catches on fire, grows elephant feet and turns a tanker truck into rubber duckies

About RAB

The Radio Advertising Bureau serves more than 6,000 member radio stations in the U.S. and over 1,000 member networks, representative firms, broadcast vendors, and international organizations. RAB leads and participates in educational, research, sales, and advocacy programs that promote and advance Radio as a primary advertising medium.

Media Contact
Leah Kamon

(212) 681-7219

Meghan Buonocore

(212) 681-7215