Superbowl XLV Commerical Costs

Super Bowl XLV, which will take place on February 6, 2011 in Dallas, Texas will be a big event, not just for the game but for the much anticipated commercials. Super Bowl ads have become infamous for packing a big punch and are one of the most beloved aspects of the big game.

The Super Bowl is traditionally one of the biggest television events of the year. Accordingly, it’s one of the top showcases for advertisers. Companies such as Pepsi, Go Daddy, E-Trade and Career Builder are all past Superbowl advertisers. This year, the roster of advertisers includes Audi, Best Buy, Mercedes-Benz, Pepsi, GM, Motorola and Volkswagen.

According to Reuters, the 2011 Super Bowl commercials will cost up to $3 million dollars for a 30 second spot. Fox will be broadcasting Super Bowl 2011, and all ad spots sold out a while ago.

According to Will Ketchum of Burdette Ketchum marketing agency:

“When you think about the great Super Bowl ads in the ’80s, it was all about the ad; now what the savvy marketers are doing is building a marketing campaign around the 30 seconds. Airing the ad is just a trigger to more engagement.”

According to Ketchum, there are three types of advertisers during the Superbowl:

  1. First, the ubiquitous ones who advertise all the time – Bud Light and Coca-Cola or Pepsi, etc. For these brands, it’s about entertainment value and maintaining a share of brand leadership.
  2. Second are the established brands with news to share, such as a car company promoting a green initiative.
  3. Third, you have the newcomers like Home Away, a vacation home service where you can put your vacation home up for rent or you can rent someone else’s. The third group spends a sizable portion of their marketing budget on the Superbowl hoping that the quick ad during the Superbowl will serve as a trigger for a much larger marketing effort, perhaps one that is more grassroots or viral in nature.

New to this year’s Superbowl advertising lineup is H&R Block. The company hired the quirky Coen brothers, known for their films like Fargo and The Man Who Wasn’t There, to direct their commercial. In the spot, a group of bored workers sit at their desks listening to a man speak endlessly about the new tax laws that go into effect this year.

Another newcomer is Quizno’s,which reportedly paid $1.9 million for a 30 second ad during the first half of the game. According to Quizno’s president and chief executive Rich Schaden “We have a huge opportunity. There’s a very large percentage of those people who don’t know who we are and what we do yet.”

Some companies, such as Pepsi, are using interactivity to drive consumer interest in their ads. In the first half of the game, Pepsi plans to run a 90-second spot featuring clips of its commercials through the decades with pop princess Britney Spears. Viewers can then vote for their favorite Britney ad online, and the winner will run in the second quarter.

The all important question, of course, is, “Are the ads worth it? Are advertisers getting a return on their investment?”

That all depends on what the advertiser’s end goal is. Did the advertiser want to introduce a new product or service, build their existing brand or just simply entertain us?

A few things have been gleaned from Superbowl ads past. First, Superbowl ads pay off if you have a large and diverse target audience, geographically, and demographically.

For example, it’s probably not wise for the local dentist to advertise in the Superbowl. There are much more cost-effective media options to be used by small, local businesses.

Companies like Pepsi and Doritos, on the other hand, have a much greater chance of seeing a return on their investment, as their target audience is scattered all over the United States and makes up varying demographics. Nevertheless, such mature companies must also consider where else their money can be spent. For a well-known brand like Pepsi, spending millions to get its name in front of people who already know it may make little sense.

Luckily, company execs make big bucks to figure out whether or not a Superbowl ad will offer their companies a great ROI. We’re just there to be entertained, engaged, and, possibly, sold!

Enjoy the game!

Published or Updated: April 3, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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