For one weekend at least, marketers show they appr
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

For one weekend at least, marketers show they appr

Paul Holmes

How much is public relations worth? There’s still no definitive answer to that age-old question, but this past weekend, at least, marketers implicitly acknowledged that PR—or rather publicity—is worth quite a lot. An ad airing during on American network television during the SuperBowl cost around $3.8 million and delivered an audience expected to be around 110 million. By comparison, an ad on Sunday Night Football, which happens to be the most expensive regularly-scheduled advertising spot on US network television and presumably delivers a very similar demographic, costs a little more than $500,000 and reaches an audience of about 25 million. If the additional audience was the only thing that mattered, advertisers would be paying around $2.2 million for a SuperBowl ad. What accounts for the other $1.6 million? Presumably, it’s the extra publicity that advertisers expect to generate as a result of all the hoopla that surrounds SuperBowl advertising each year. (Super Bowl ads get a "ripple of media that adds up to enormous value above and beyond the spot itself," Tony Pace, chief marketing officer of Subway, told The Wall Street Journal.) I understand that this is a pretty crude analysis. It comes pretty close to assuming some equivalency between the cost of an ad and the value of publicity. But the broader point is this: if marketers are willing to pay $1.6 million for publicity for their ads (and let’s face it, the media coverage generated sells the ads more than it sells the product being advertised), why aren’t they willing to devote a similar proportion of their budget—about 40 percent, in this case—to PR on an ongoing basis?
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