The Super Bowl of Advertising

Source: Houston Super Bowl Committee

What is the Super Bowl of advertising?  Why… the Super Bowl, of course!  That’s common knowledge, I know, but every year I’m intrigued by the hype surrounding advertising’s turn in the limelight.  Typically, TV commercials are considered the time to grab a snack from the kitchen, put the dog outside for a few minutes, answer some e-mails, make a pit-stop to the bathroom, throw another log on the fire, or refill your empty glass of iced tea (or whatever you’re drinking).  However, viewers have a completely different perspective and attitude of advertising during the Super Bowl nowadays.

I’m not a big TV-watcher.  I can count the number of TV shows I watch on just one hand, and if I miss an episode, it doesn’t ruin my day.  I can’t sit still long enough to watch a full movie unless it has a really, really, REALLY, totally awesome plot…. and a super good looking lead actor.  🙂

But I do love watching commercials.  Call me weird… it’s OK.  Having a masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications complemented by my love for marketing and advertising has made me this way.  I don’t just watch the commercials…. I analyze them, critique them and rate them. I try to identify the target audience, the underlying message, the voice and tone, and I’m enthralled with commercials do more than just sell a product, but tell a story.  I really enjoy the good laugh when it’s humorous, and the deep emotional tug at the heartstrings when it’s sad.

With all of that said, the Super Bowl is like advertising heaven for me! It’s got everything a marketing freak like me would want. But it all comes at a HUGE cost.

According to AdAge (one of my favorite marketing resources) the average cost of a 30-second commercial for Super Bowl I was $40,000.  For Super Bowl LI, the average cost is an astounding

$5 million for 30 seconds of airtime

Geesh… what I couldn’t do with $5 million!!!  This graphic from AdAge Datacenter really puts the cost into perspective….


However, it’s estimated that over 100 million people will watch the Patriots and Falcons fight it out on the gridiron on February 5th.  Advertisers put a more realistic price tag on a commercial by breaking the cost down per a set number of viewers.  This is called CPM, or cost per thousand.

So, the CPM for a 30-second commercial on Super Bowl LI is $50 for every 1,000 viewers.  (That looks much easier to swallow, doesn’t it?)

Additionally, research shows that 78% of Super Bowl viewers are more interested in the commercial than the game.  Brands know there is a very real chance that the commercial will actually be watched, and perhaps viewers will grab their snack, put the dog out, peek at their e-mail, run to the bathroom, shake up the fire, or pop the top off of another cold one during a first or second down instead. Personally, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. Watch for my Tweets.

Want to learn more about Super Bowl LI and the commercials you will (and won’t) be seeing next week?  Check out the AdAge Super Bowl Report.  You can even sign up for “Breaking News” e-mail updates. But be prepared for continuous, albeit interesting distractions about the Super Bowl of Advertising!!

What do you think about spending $5 million on a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl?  Keep in mind… that’s just for the airtime… it doesn’t include the cost to make the commercial which can be upwards of hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for the production.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Hut…. HUT!! 🙂

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