Super Bowl Ad Spending: Is it Worth it?

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One of the greatest sporting events on the planet, the Super Bowl brings in 110 million viewers every year – as well as billions in consumer spending.

Back in 1967, the total ad spending for Super Bowl I was around $7 million. 51 years later, total investment stands at a record-breaking $2.042 billion.

The Big Game is big business. But just how much are brands spending on Super Bowl advertising? What’s their ROI? And is the expense worth it?

We take a closer look at Super Bowl ad spending and replay some classic commercial touchdowns and fumbles.

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Super Bowl Ad Spending – Is it Worth It?

One of the greatest sporting events on the planet, the Super Bowl brings in 110 million viewers every year – as well as billions in consumer spending.

 Back in 1967, the total ad spending for Super Bowl I was around $7 million. 51 years later, total investment stands at a record-breaking $2.042 billion.

The Big Game is big business. But just how much are brands spending on Super Bowl advertising? What’s their ROI? And is the expense worth it?

We take a closer look at Super Bowl ad spending and replay some classic commercial touchdowns and fumbles.

 

Super Bowl LI (2017)

 $385 million – Estimated ad spend for commercials

$5 million – Average cost of 30-second commercial

$166,667 – Price per second for a commercial

 

Super Bowl Ad Spending Throughout History

  • $4.9 billion – Money spent on advertising in the first 51 years of the Super Bowl
  • $40,000 ($249,000 adjusted for inflation) – Average cost of 30-second commercial for Super Bowl I
  • $1,333 – Price per second for a commercial during Super Bowl I

 

 

Super Bowl Ad Spend Milestones

The first time the price of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial hit:

  • $100,000 – 1975
  • $500,000 – 1985
  • $1 million – 1995
  • $2 million – 2000
  • $3 million – 2009
  • $4 million – 2013
  • $5 million – 2017

 

Super Bowl Ad Spending by the Decade

Total in-game ad spending:

  • 1970s – $54 million
  • 1980s – $238 million
  • 1990s – $624 million
  • 2000s – $1.554 billion
  • 2010s – $2.419 billion

The Most Expensive Super Bowl Ads of All Time

  • $12.4 million – Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” featuring hometown hero Eminem (2011)
  • $12 million – Bud Light’s “Up for Whatever” (2014)
  • $8 Million – Jaguar’s “British Villains Rendezvous” (2014)

 

Super Bowl Ad Success Stories

  • Apple “1984” (1984) – lead to Apple selling 90% more of its product than forecast.
  • Wix.com “#ItsThatEasy” (2015) – Wix reported a 54% increase in revenue in three months.
  • Monster.com “When I Grow Up” (1999) – Monster reported a spike from 600 job searches per minutes to almost 2,900.

Super Bowl Ad Flops and Fails

  • General Motors “Suicidal Robot” (2007) – featured an assembly line robot envisioning losing its job and taking its own life. GM was forced to edit the ad five days after it aired following complaints from suicide prevention advocacy groups.
  • Lifeminders.com “Self Titled” (2000) – proclaimed itself “the worst commercial on the Super Bowl” and was reportedly created in just three days. The company went out of business within two years.
  • Just For Feet’ “Kenyan Runner” (1999) – labelled racist by viewers, the ad showed four white men drugging a black athlete to put trainers on him. Just For Feet sued its ad agency for $10 million and then filed for bankruptcy 10 months later.

Are Super Bowl Ads Worth the Money?

  • 80% of commercials do not boost sales or purchase intent (Communicus)
  • 87% of viewers watch for entertainment or social purposes (Adlucent)
  • 6% viewers watch to discover new brands, products or services (Adlucent)
  • Less than 1% watch with to influence purchasing decisions (Adlucent)
  • $4.5 million spent on a single 30-second spot could generate roughly 576 million mobile impressions and much greater brand engagement (Fiksu)

 

While brands with big budgets like Coca-Cola and Budweiser use Super Bowl ad spend to defend their long-established legacies and sky-high market positions, newer players should be more cautious.

Surveys show that audiences aren’t particularly interested in a naked sales pitch. For maximum impact in our digital age, advertisers must create all-encompassing campaigns that have the power to generate online views and virality before, during and after the game.