Forget Football: Everyone is Talking about Their Favorite Super Bowl Ads

February 3, 2015

Good, bad or sad – this year’s slate of Super Bowl ads definitely got the attention of consumers and viewers nationwide. Links to watch the game online included separate (and heavily viewed) pages just to watch the ads as they aired, and Forbes stated that “several studies have proven that 50 percent of the Super Bowl audience tunes in just to watch the ads.” According to a recently conducted poll by Crowdtap, a people-powered marketing platform, and shared by Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 85 percent of people said that they “prefer the Super Bowl as it is now, ads and all, to a Super Bowl with no ads.”

As commercials aired, people quickly picked their favorites and tweeted and posted about which were the funniest, the saddest and overall the most compelling 30-second slots. Ranking ads even had its own twitter hashtag again this year - #Brandbowl – with some users stating that “the game was great, but I was really watching for the ads.”

With this increasing interest in advertising, there is also a renewed awareness of how innately valuable marketing and creative engagement with consumers can be. The 2015 Super Bowl drew a record 114.4 million viewers, meaning that those ads have an incredible impact. Translating those numbers into economic impact is easy – according to a recent study by IHS Global Insight, Inc., by 2017, advertising will directly and indirectly foster $6.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity on an annual basis and help support 22.1 million U.S. jobs. Looking at the issue another way, for every dollar spent on advertising; nearly $22 would be generated in the economy.

These facts make the issue of an ad tax, such as those periodically proposed by Congress, all the more problematic. Right now, advertising, like all ordinary and necessary business expenses, can be deducted immediately. Proposals, however, have been put forward to require that 50 percent of advertising expenses would have to be written off over 10 years. This onerous tax has the capability to cost the industry an additional $169 billion over that time period, a staggering sum that would place a heavy burden and brake on the selling process. This tax clearly would undermine the positive impact the advertising industry has on our nation’s economy, at a time when policymakers are focusing on economic and job growth.  

The proposed ad tax would have painful impacts on the companies that advertise, and those impacts last long beyond the short time frame in which ads like those on during the Super Bowl air. For companies advertising a product that is only newsworthy in the near-term, they could face paying taxes over 10 years for a product that might lack relevance in 10 months.

Advertising has long been treated as a necessary cost of doing business, and for good reason. Without advertising built in as an essential ordinary and necessary business expense, most businesses would be severely burdened by these new costs. An ad tax would restrict job growth and would harm our nation’s economy, making the impact on our nation stretch far beyond football. To protect such a productive industry, we continue to encourage policymakers to support the existing tax deduction for advertising, and to commit to continuing to generate millions of jobs across the country annually.

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