Written by Zack Lander
It goes without saying that the Super Bowl is one of the most watched television programs every year. For some, it is a big night to support their favorite team alongside family, friends, and beer. For others, it is a big marketing opportunity to get their business to another level. Just like the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages athletes can play on and the Grammys is one of the biggest stages artists can perform on, it is also one of the biggest platforms a business can promote their name on. Your commercial can be viewed by more than 100 million people. That is totally worth it.
Other than the game itself, and even the Puppy Bowl, the commercials are the favorite on Super Bowl Sunday. According to Business Insider, 98.8 percent of people watching the Super Bowl also watch and tune in for the ads. These commercials can range from funny and political to eyebrow raising. Doritos is one of the companies that is known for always having a funny commercial, while over the past few years automobile and insurance companies have raised the bar in emotional commercials, creating high quality ones that always seem to be well received.
One of the commercials that got the most reaction this year was the Lumber 84 commercial. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it right here – Lumber 84 Super Bowl Commercial. This commercial was giving a take on the wall Trump plans on building on the border separating Mexico and the United States. It was about a mother and her daughter traveling to the border to eventually cross over to the United States, but at the end they reach the wall. That ad may have gotten the company a lot of publicity, but no matter what people say, all publicity is not good publicity.
The process that goes into getting a advertising slot for the Super Bowl is as extensive as it is expensive. For starters, according to Business Insider, it cost $4 million to get that spot. It averages out to about $3.5 million for a 30 second slot of air time. This was back in 2012. The price then fluctuates up and down depending on when the commercial is aired during the game. Along with that, another price factor is how many times, or ‘units, your commercial is aired. The third thing that has to do with price is if you bought pre or post game coverage as well or a package deal. All this talk of getting the slot doesn’t even include the costs of shooting the commercial. And clearly a lot of money is going into that to send a message and get everyone’s attention. According to Kantar in the Business Insider article titled Inside the Ridiculously Complicated Process of Buying a Super Bowl Ad, companies put more than ten percent of their year’s media budget into the Super Bowl. From 2002-2011 Anheuser-Busch spent $239.1 million on Super Bowl ads. That includes purchasing the slot for airtime as well as all the production and planning that goes into it. Coming in second is PepsiCo Inc, which spent $174 million followed by General Motors Corp spending $82.9 million on ads.
Is spending all this money really worth it? Is the payoff THAT good? Fortune published two articles in 2016 about this, one the day before the Super Bowl (Feb. 6) and one the day of (Feb. 7). They said that about 80% of Super Bowl commercials don’t increase sales or anything for the company. In another Fortune article, “Here’s What Spending Millions on a Super Bowl Ad Gets You, 87% of people are watching the commercials for entertainment purposes. Following that, only 6% are watching to find out about new brands of products, and less than 1% are viewing these to be influenced.
When website platform developing company Wix advertised in the Super Bowl, they spent about $10 million for their ad, bringing in former football players Terrell Owens, Brett Favre, and Emmitt Smith (Here’s What a $5 Million Super Bowl Ad Gets You). They then saw an increase in revenue from about $200 million to about $204 million. So I think it is safe to say, that although they spent more than it looks, Wix’s revenue increased. There was no deficit so the company benefitted.
In Fortune’s article, “Here’s Why Companies Spend Millions On Super Bowl Ads,” which is an excerpt from a Sports Illustrated article titled “SUPER BOWL GOLD: 50 Years of The Big Game” written by Bill Syken. Super Bowl ads have been known to spark actor’s careers, and companies hope this can happen for them. That’s why they spend so much money on it. The more they pay the bigger the payoff, or at least they hope. Back in 1967, it cost $43,000, or about $300,000 in today’s dollars for a 30 second ad. Fast forward to now, a 30 second ad in 2016’s Super Bowl 50 was $5 million. Running these ads have been known to increase a company’s stock price, even if just for a short while, and movies even do better after running ads during the big game (Here’s Why Companies Spend Millions On Super Bowl Ads).
Gretchen Walsh, senior vice president at advertising company McKinney says, “Win the hearts and minds of America. This is what a Super Bowl ad needs to do.” You don’t want to go too big (even though it’s the biggest stage), and you definitely don’t want to go too small. Walsh says that a company’s goal in producing these commercials is to “create a positive and lingering impression for their brand.” You want it to be remembered in a positive light. You just don’t want your company’s ad to be neutral. If people neither like it nor hate it, they didn’t get it and you didn’t take advantage of what you had. It’s sort of a swing and a miss, and maybe even a strike three if that was a massive investment to get your company to the next level. Unless your company has a groundbreaking ad that will catapult the publics’ knowledge of you , maybe running a Super Bowl ad isn’t the right move for the company, especially financially.