Last year people bet $119.4 million on the Super Bowl with Nevada sportsbooks, according to the state Gaming Control Board. Millions more was bet with bookmakers, on websites and in office pools.
It is the biggest gambling event of the year. And there is another way to gamble on this annual ritual besides picking the winner or who will score first or win the coin toss, according to a financial analyst and former professor. Bet on the stocks of the publicly traded companies that have the most likable commercials.
The companies with the most likable ads get a positive bump on the Monday after the game, according to study done by Kenneth A. Kim, who is chief financial strategist for Eqis Capital. At least that’s what happened between 1989 and 2005, the years he looked at.
Kim said the idea for the study came to him as he watched Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears for the championship in 2007. At the time he was a professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo, a post he held until he joined Eqis full-time a year ago. Kim, now based in San Rafael, Calif., has a Ph.D. in finance.
“There are two things people talk about the Monday after the game,” he said. “The game and the commercials.”
He wondered if all the attention, coupled with the large audience (111.5 million last year, according to Nielsen) helped a company’s stock price the next day. Using 529 commercials, he found that it did. He used USA Today’s annual likability survey to measure that quality.
Kim discovered there was a statistically significant improvement in the stock price of those with the most viewer-friendly ads. These companies also had larger trading volume than they had in the week before the big game.
He published his findings in 2007 in Economic Letters in a three-page essay.
What about the companies that aired the least-liked spots? Confirming the notion that there is no such thing as bad publicity, Kim found they also had an uptick, but not a big enough one to be statistically significant.
Kim, who also recently published a book, Mutual Funds Exposed, sees the pattern as an example of “representativeness bias” in decision-making. Put simply, people make an impulse stock buy because they liked the commercial, instead of researching a company’s fundamentals and prospects.
Kim went back and updated his study recently and what he learned surprised him. The pattern did not hold up as much in recent years. Kim has a theory about what happened, though. Recently, the most likable rankings have been dominated by Doritos (owned by Pepsi) and Budweiser (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev). Familiarity has bred indifference, so people have not been as eager to buy the stocks of those companies the next day.
However, Radio Shack, which has not been a part of the telecast lately, did have a likable commercial, and it enjoyed a bump and more than double its trading volume. So, if one wants to play a stock based on this pattern, one should decide the Friday before the Super Bowl which companies that are new to the broadcast will have a likable commercial and buy their stocks, Kim said.