Super Bowl: Why it’s the perfect time for film trailers

Brands were reportedly shelling out $5 million for 30 seconds worth of exposure during CBS' Super Bowl 50 ad breaks, and the big movie studios were there fighting to be heard.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
Source: Fox Movies

Super Bowl 50 saw a host of studios air new footage from 2016's most-anticipated films. Disney advertised its live-action adaptations "The Jungle Book" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass"; while Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox opted for popular sequels "Jason Bourne" and "Independence Day: Resurgence" respectively, to pull in loyal franchise fans.

Others capitalized on the continuing comic book movie craze, with upcoming superhero films, "Captain America: Civil War", "X-Men: Apocalypse" and "Deadpool", all making an appearance.

With an average 111.9 million people tuning in to watch Sunday's event, according to Nielsen's preliminary results, it's an audience that film studios simply cannot miss out on.

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"(The Super Bowl is) a perfect place to debut something and get it on people's radar… probably the most captive worldwide audience you'll ever have," Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told CNBC via email.

"You simply can't afford to miss opportunities like that," said Bock, adding that studios can make an even greater mark by debuting something completely brand new, like Universal did with "Jason Bourne".

While $5 million may be a hefty price tag, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, told CNBC it's worth the money, even if it just creates buzz around the film.

"As a very small percentage of the overall budget on most Hollywood blockbusters, for that level of exposure, it's a solid investment," said Dergarabedian, adding that this global audience is "worth its weight in box office gold" and can instantaneously elevate films to a "must see, blockbuster status."

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When it comes to selecting the right audience, it's preferable to pick films that "simultaneously target multiple demographics" rather than films that are "ramping up their Oscar campaigns", said BoxOffice Media's managing editor, Daniel Loría.

Some studios, however, took risks by promoting smaller movies, for instance 20th Century Fox surprised viewers this time with "Eddie the Eagle," however analysts suggest it may have worked because it targeted a sports-orientated audience.

"The Super Bowl attracts a larger and more diverse audience than the usual Sunday sports fan. Non-sports folks are also watching the game, often at parties. For them, the ads are the bigger draw. A smaller movie that might appeal to them will likely stand out in their minds more," said Augie De Blieck Jr., columnist at Comic Book Resources.

"It's riskier, particularly since such a movie likely has a smaller marketing budget, but the upside potential is high," De Blieck Jr., added.

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While film trailers doled out surprises during the broadcast, several brands chose to release their ads early, to spark conversation prior to the Super Bowl.

"Some conversations start well before kickoff" with members of the public curious about the ads, eMarketer's principal analyst, Debra Aho Williamson said in a recent eMarketer report.

"That's why marketers pre-release their ads on platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. They know that if people start buzzing about an ad early, chances are the ad will get more exposure."

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Analysts however believe studios will retain the element of surprise until the Super Bowl advert is aired.

De Blieck Jr., suggests the next thing that can be learned from the TV spots is looking at how to create an ongoing conversation. For instance, the latest Captain America trailer asked viewers to pick a superhero side with the right hashtag, therefore making the discussion last longer.


"Now the viewers are an active part of the experience and the conversation about the movie can continue beyond just the 30 or 60 second ad," said De Blieck Jr.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and Universal.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her @AlexGibbsy and @CNBCi